The New Orleans Saints were defeated by the Washington Redskins, 40-32, on Sunday in both team's first regular season contest of 2012 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The loss comes after the Saints earned an 8-0 record at home in the 2011 regular season.
The Black-and-Gold fell short of a fourth quarter comeback as QB Drew Brees was intercepted on a hail mary pass in the endzone as time expired.
"Our fans deserve more than what we gave them today," said Offensive Line/Running Game coach Aaron Kromer. "We didn't play well enough to win. We need to play better this week."
Brees completed 24-of-52 passes for a total of 339 yards through the air. He connected on three touchdown passes and threw two interceptions.
WR Lance Moore caught six passes and racked up 120 yards receiving and was also able to add one touchdown. TE Jimmy Graham also caught six passes for a total of 85 yards and one touchdown.
RB Darren Sproles caught five passes for 35 yards and one touchdown while also adding 117 return yards for 152 total all-purpose yards, aided by a 48-yard kickoff return.
DE Cameron Jordan finished with a career-high 11 tackles (five solo) and S Roman Harper recorded nine stops (seven solo). CB Patrick Robinson recorded one sack that led to a loss of nine yards.
The Redskins outgained the Saints 464-358 overall and 153-32 on the ground. The Saints had possession of the football for 20:50 (35%) while the Redskins logged 39:10. Both teams were penalized 12 times.
The Saints won the toss and received the ball to start the first quarter.
Brees led the Saints onto the field but they went three and out and punted the ball away to the Redskins.
Rookie QB Robert Griffin III started his first career NFL game and began his first drive from the Redskins 32-yard line.
Griffin completed a short pass to WR Pierre Garcon on his first attempt before rushing for 12 yards and a first down. On first down, Griffin completed his next pass to Garcon for a gain of 12 yards. Griffin then connected on his third consecutive completion, all to Garcon, for a pickup of nine yards to move the ball deeper into Saints territory.
Then, on third-and-five from the Saints 25 yard line, Griffin moved the ball for a first down with a completion to WR Brandon Banks to move the ball inside the red zone. Griffin fumbled on first down and the Redskins were forced to take a five-yard loss.
Washington was unable to pick up another first down. Cundiff connected on a 37-yard field goal and the Redskins took the lead, 3-0, with 7:05 remaining in the first quarter.
After a touchback, Brees and the offense took the field for their second drive of the game. RB Pierre Thomas picked up six yards on the ground before Brees hit TE Jimmy Graham over the middle for a 23-yard completion. RB Mark Ingram rushed the ball to midfield and Brees connected on a screen pass to Thomas for a gain of 12 yards before the running back was chased down by LB Brian Orakpo.
A penalty moved the Black and Gold further downfield and set up a 20-yard strike from Brees to Graham for a touchdown. Hartley connected on the PAT and the Saints went ahead, 7-3, with 3:49 left in the first quarter.
Redskins began their drive from their 12-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Griffin connected on an 88-yard touchdown pass to Garcon. Cundiff made the extra point and the Redskins took a 10-7 lead with 3:28 remaining in the first quarter.
The Saints weren't able to get anything going on their next drive. Two penalties moved them back into their own territory and P Thomas Morstead booted the ball 49 yards to the Redskins 43-yard line.
RB Alfred Morris rushed on first and second down for the Redskins and brought up third-and-six from the Washington 47-yard line. On third down, Griffin kept the snap and ran to the right. He picked up five yards and was just short of the first down marker. On fourth-and-one, FB Darrel Young was able to push through the middle of the line and gain a first down inside New Orleans territory. A one-yard rush by Morris ended the first quarter.
Griffin completed his first pass of the second quarter to TE Fred Davis for a 26-yard gain. Griffin took off on second down and picked up seven yards and moved the Redskins to the Saints seven-yard line. Morris rushed for four yards and a first down at the New Orleans six yard line. On third-and-goal, Griffin connected on a six-yard touchdown pass to WR Aldrick Robinson. Cundiff made the PAT and gave the Redskins a 17-7 lead with 11:33 remaining in the second quarter.
Ingram carried on first and second down for the Saints and picked up a total of five yards. After a penalty, Brees was faced with third-and-ten and was sacked by CB DeAngelo Hall for a loss of seven yards. Morstead punted the ball 59 yards but Banks returned the punt 20 yards to the Washington 48-yard line. After two short gains on the ground, Griffin completed a pass on third down for a gain of 27-yards. The Redskins were moved back to the New Orleans 31 yard line after an illegal block above the waist. On second down, Griffin rushed and picked up eight yards. He ran again on third down, but was stopped short by LB Curtis Lofton. Cundiff connected on a 41-yard field goal to give the Redskins a 20-7 lead with 6:08 left in the first half.
Brees completed his first pass of the next drive to RB Darren Sproles for a gain of five yards before connecting with Jimmy Graham through the air for a gain of 20 yards. Brees then tossed another completion to Graham for four yards and moved the ball to the New Orleans 49-yard line. Ingram was able to move the chains and the ball into Washington territory with a six-yard rush to the left side. Brees then hit Graham for the third time of the drive, this time for six yards that brought up third down. On third-and-four, Brees connected with WR Marques Colston for a 14-yard gain and Colston's first catch of the night. A rush by RB Pierre Thomas brought the two-minute warning with the Saints at the Washington 22-yard line. On third down, Brees completed a pass to Colston for a gain of 19 yards. CB Cedric Griffin forced a fumble quickly after the catch and the ball went out of the back of the end zone for a Washington touchback.
On first down, Griffin was brought down for a loss of two yards by DE Junior Galette. The Redskins carried on the next two plays but were unable to pick up a first down. Wilson blocked the Washington punt and the ball was recovered Roby who returned the ball for five yards and a touchdown. Hartley made the extra point and reduced the Washington lead to six points, 20-14 with 40 seconds remaining.
The Redskins took a knee and ended the first half with a 20-14 lead.
Banks returned the opening kickoff of the third quarter 22 yards to bring Griffin and the Redskins offense back on the field. Griffin came out firing, connecting on a 14-yard completion to WR Santana Moss and a 21-yard gain through the air to WR Joshua Morgan. Griffin also completed a 12-yard pass to Davis to move the ball to the New Orleans 33-yard line. On fourth-and-one, Griffin rolled out to his right and threw a deep pass to the end zone. The pass fell incomplete but S Roman Harper was called for pass interference, a 32-yard penalty that gave the Redskins the ball on the Saints one-yard line. Morris carried the ball into the end zone. Cundiff made the extra point and gave Washington a 27-14 lead with 11:24 remaining in the third quarter.
After a touchback, the Saints offense took the field for the first time in the second half. A holding penalty quickly moved them back ten yards. After three incomplete passes, Morstead punted the ball away 54-yards to the Washington 36 yard line.
Rookie RB Alfred Morris was able to break off an 18-yard run to move the ball inside New Orleans territory to the 46 yard line. After two short rushes and an offensive holding penalty, Griffin completed a pass to Robinson who moved the chains for the Redskins while picking up 29 yards. Morris rushed on first and second down for a total of seven yards before Griffin threw an incomplete pass on third down. Cundiff connected on the 37-yard field goal and gave the Redskins a 30-14 lead with 7:10 remaining in the third quarter.
On first down with New Orleans getting the ball back, Thomas was able to break a tackle and rush to the right for a pickup of nine yards and Ingram was able to move the chains behind his offensive line in a two yard gain. Brees then completed a pass to WR Devery Henderson who was able to move the ball 11 yards for another Saints first down. After two incomplete passes, Brees connected on consecutive strikes of 25 yards to Colston and nine yards to Sproles to move to the Washington 25 yard line. On second and one, Brees threw a pass intended for WR Lance Moore but the Redskins were called for pass interference to bring up first down for the Saints at the Washington eight yard line.
Brees' first attempt was blocked at the line. His second throw was caught by TE David Thomas for a gain of five yards. Sproles was unable to catch a third down pass from Brees and Hartley connected on a 21-yard field goal attempt to bring the game to 30-17 with 1:50 remaining in the third quarter.
Griffin fired deep down the field on first down and the pass was almost intercepted by CB Patrick Robinson. Morris carried on second down for five yards and Griffin was unable to complete a third down pass. The Saints had 12 men on the field on the play and gave Washington a new set of downs. Morris carried two times for 13 yards to end the third quarter.
Morris rushed for ten yards on the first play of the fourth quarter. After an offensive penalty, Griffin completed a pass to RB Roy Helu Jr. for a gain of 21 yards. Morris then rushed twice for two yards and Griffin threw incomplete on third down. Cundiff made a 45-yard field goal to give the Redskins a 33-17 lead with 10:59 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Sproles returned the kickoff 48 yards to the New Orleans 39-yard line to begin the drive.
Brees threw incomplete on first down before the Saints were called for an offensive holding penalty. On second-and-20, Brees was sacked for a six-yard loss by LB Ryan Kerrigan. Bress was incomplete on third down and the Saints punted the ball back to the Redskins. LB Will Herring forced a fumble on the return, but Banks was able to recover for the Redskins.
Morris rushed on first and second down for a short gain before Griffin complete a third down pass to Moss. The Redskins fell short of a first down and punted the ball back to the Saints after going three-and-out. The Saints took over from their 25-yard line.
Brees completed a 12-yard pass to Moore before hitting Colston for a 13-yard gain. Brees threw incomplete on his next three throws but completed a 33-yard touchdown strike to Moore in the corner of the end zone. Sproles was able to run the ball in for the two-point conversion to bring the Saints within one score. The Redskins still hold the lead, 33-25, with 6:19 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Morstead kicked the ball away for a touchback and Griffin took over for the Redskins.
Griffin completed a first down pass to Robinson for 13-yards for a new set of downs. Morris rushed for three yards on first down. On second down, Patrick Robinson sacked Griffin for a loss of nine yards to bring up third down with 16 yards to go. Griffin was pressured by the Saints defensive line on third down and scrambled for a pickup of 12-yards but it was not enough for a first down. Washington punted the ball back to New Orleans.
Sproles returned the punt nine yards to give the Saints the ball on the New Orleans 27-yard line. Brees was intercepted on first down by CB DeJon Gomes who returned the pick 49 yards to the New Orleans 3-yard line.
Morris carried the ball in for a score on first down from the three yard line. Cundiff made the extra point and the Redskins took a 40-25 lead with 3:18 remaining.
Brees completed a pass for 12-yards to Graham on the first play of the drive before connecting with Moore for a gain of 17 yards. After a penalty against the Redskins, Brees completed a 17-yard pass to Moore before hitting Sproles for a 17-yard catch and run that brought to the Saints to the two-yard line. Faced with fourth down after three incomplete passes, Brees completed a pass to Sproles for a touchdown. Hartley made the extra point to bring the score to 40-32 with 2:25 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Saints drove 80 yards in ten plays over only 53 seconds.
Morris rushed on first down but was brought down by DE Will Smith for a loss of three yards. On second down, Griffin completed a 22-yard pass for a new set of downs. Morris carried again, this time for no gain, to allow the clock to tick down to the two-minute warning. After two more carries for short gains, the Redskins punted the ball for a touchback with 22 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Brees attempted to lead a comeback with no timeouts remaining. He completed a 15-yard pass to Moore who was forced out of bounds. Brees then connected on a 26-yard strike to Moore over the center of the field before Brees was able to spike the ball to stop the clock with two seconds remaining. On the final play of the game, Brees was intercepted by S Reed Doughty on a hail mary pass in the end zone, guaranteeing the win by the Redskins.