<span style=""> <span style=""> <span style=""><span style="">Landover, Md.</span> –<span style=""> <span>K Garrett Hartley made his fourth field goal of the day his biggest one, as his 18-yard effort in overtime helped the Saints improve to 12-0 and erase a 30-20 fourth quarter deficit in the Saints' 33-30 victory.
The Saints captured the NFC South earlier in the afternoon when the Eagles hammered the Falcons, while the Saints continued their magical run, although it was severely tested and looked to be in doubt with just over three minutes left in regulation. But a fortunate break for the Saints occurred when Washington kicker Shaun Suisham, who had converted 18-of-his 20 field goal attempts this season, pushed a 23-yard field goal to the right with 1:56 left in the game. The score remained 30-23 in the Redskins' favor, but that, too, would be short-lived, as QB Drew Brees drove the Saints 80 yards in five plays in just :33 seconds and capped the comeback drive with a 53-yard touchdown pass to WR Robert Meachem to tie the game at 30-30 with just over a minute to play. Thus forcing the game into overtime, but that too, was in doubt when linebacker Jonathan Vilma intercepted a pass late in regulation time and lead to a long-distance field goal attempt by the Saints in regulation.
The Saints' defense, and even their offense, capitalized on all of their two forced fumbles and one interception. It would be hard to quantify any of the turnovers as more important that another. WR Robert Meachem turned in perhaps the most unusual one in the NFL in recent memory, when he tracked down Washington defensive back Kareem Moore, who had swiped a desperation pass from Brees late in the second quarter, only to have Meachem sprint past blockers, spin Moore around and yank the ball out of his hands, and then turn and race 44-yards for a touchdown that made the score 17-17 right before halftime.
"Our defense is always doing that to us in practice," Meachem said after the game. 'It becomes contagious and you learn how to get your hands in there and strip the ball. Once I turned and didn't see anyone there and just took off."
Vilma's interception came at the end of regulation, and with the Saints and Redskins knotted at 30-30. The Redskins had the football with over a minute and some change and had moved to near midfield after a completion and facemask penalty against the Saints. But then Vilma, from his middle linebacker spot, read a route in the flat and undercut a pass intended for tight end Fred Davis. It represented Vilma's second pickoff of the season and thwarted any potential attempt the Redskins would have at offering Suisham a chance for redemption. "Davis is a big fast tight end and they had some success in getting him the ball throughout the game," Vilma said. 'I saw the play developing and just took off and tried to get to the spot, keep my head up and get my hands on the ball. It would have been great to take it to house and end it right there, but my momentum carried me out of bounds."
The final turnover of the game came in overtime and with the Redskins in possession of the football. The Campbell-led "Skins had started the drive with a 10-yard completion to the left flat to the speedy and elusive Santana Moss, and the Saints, just like last week, were without their top three cornerbacks (Jabari Greer, Tracy Porter and Randall Gay), but it was Chris McAlister, a former Baltimore Raven, who made his presence felt. McAlister came up to meet rough and tumble fullback Mike Sellers after a short completion and upended the runner, causing him to fall awkwardly to the ground and lose control of the football. "That was a huge play," said safety Darren Sharper. "Seller's a load. He goes about 280, I don't care what the roster says, and when he is moving it is a challenge to get him down. But C-Mac (McAlister) took him on and somehow got the ball out and then was able to recover it. Hey, a different guy seems to be stepping up each week. We'll take it, obviously."
Saints quarterback Drew Brees completed 35-of-49 passes for 419 yards with touchdown passes of 40 yards (Marques Colston) and 53 yards (Robert Meachem) and never let the Redskins rest easy. "He's something else," Saints Head Coach Sean Payton said of his quarterback. "He has a very strong will and never panicked."
"I would be remiss is we didn't start the press conference by crediting the Washington Redskins," said Head Coach Sean Payton after the game. "They had us on our heels and we were fortunate to hang in there. The missed field goal was huge and gave us life and Drew (Brees) marched us right down there and made some big plays."
"There is a lot of confidence in the team right now and they wouldn't quit and just kept clawing their way back in there," Payton said. "I am proud of the way they just kept battling."
"The missed field goal gave us new life and there was sort of a feeling of destiny on our side," said S Darren Sharper. "It still came down to having to make plays, but getting a big break like that was huge and we capitalized."
Brees threw for over 400 yards in the Saints' win, and Meachem made several plays throughout the game that kept the Saints close and found the end zone twice, once on a 44-yard fumble return after he stripped the football from Washington S Kareem Moore, and then added a 53-yard touchdown late in regulation to tie the game at 30 all.
The Saints' defense forced three turnovers, including a huge forced fumble and recovery in overtime by Chris McAlister on FB Mike Sellers.
The Saints started the opening possession of the game at their own 34-yard line after a 20-yard kickoff return by Courtney Roby. Drew Brees, lined up in a shotgun, hit Pierre Thomas for a 13-yard gain on a screen play, picking up a huge block from Car Nicks on the play. DE Andre Carter, though, stopped Thomas, for a four-yard loss on the next play and then Brees, trying to find Reggie Bush after the quarterback scrambled, threw an incompletion. Brees and Thomas connected on a 10-yard screen but the Saints were unable to pick up the first down. P Thomas Morstead came on and hit a 41-yard punt that was downed at the Redskins' six-yard line that was downed by long snapper Jason Kyle.
QB Jason Campbell hit TE Fred Davis on an out-route for a gain of nine yards on first down, which was followed up by a four-yard run by RB Rock Cartwright. DE Will Smith was hit with a personal foul facemask penalty after the play, which gave the Redskins 15 more yards. Washington continued to pick up big chunks of yardage when CB Malcolm Jenkins was nailed with a pass interference penalty that cost the Saints 31 yards and moved to football to the Saints 34. Cartwright then carried for a yard before being stopped by LB Scott Shanle, then was stopped on second down after a gain of two yards by a host of Saints defenders. Campbell hit WR Devin Thomas for a gain of ten yards, followed by a cutback run by Cartwright to the Saints' five. On first down from the five DT Remi Ayodele swarmed under Cartwright for a loss of three yards to the eight. Campbell's second down pass attempt into the flat sailed out of bounds and after breaking the huddle on third down, Campbell got to the line of scrimmage and quickly called a timeout. Campbell, though, came back and hit tight end Fred Davis crossing across the middle of the field and turned the corner and into the end zone of the opening score of the game after the 94 yard drive. The Redskins led, 7-0 after kicker Shaun Suisham's extra point.
The Saints then started their second possession at their own 29 and Brees hit TE David Thomas in the flat for a gain of six yards. WR Devery Henderson then took an end-around for a gain of three yards to the 38. On a third-and-one RB Mike Bell was upended by DT Kedric Golston and stopped shy of the first down markers. Morstead then hit a 31-yard punt that was fair caught by Antwan Randle El at the Washington 30. Campbell hit Davis for a gain of 12 yards on first down, then backup running back Quinton Ganther for a gain of 13 yards to the New Orleans 44. Campbell hit Randle El for a gain of 10 yards, then Campbell once again found Davis for a gain of 15 yards to the Saints' 19. The Redskins continued to pass, this time on a six yard pass to WR Marko Mitchell for a gain of six yards. The Saints' defense pressured Campbell into incompletions on second and third downs, but the Redskins converted the drive into a 32-yard field goal by Suisham.
New Orleans, trailing 10-0, began their third drive at their own 34 and picked up 11 yards right off the bat on a completion between Brees and WR Robert Meachem. Bell then was stopped for a one-yard loss, but Brees and Pierre Thomas hooked up for 14-yards on a screen for a first down. Thomas then managed a yard on a handoff and Brees hit RB Reggie Bush for gain of two yards before being upended. Brees converted a third and seven with a ten yard gain to WR Devery Henderson. Brees then found TE Jeremy Shockey over the middle but Shockey was flagged for a pass interference call that docked the Saints 10 yards back to the 39. Brees, though, found Pierre Thomas for five yards then Shockey in traffic over the middle for a gain of 15 yards and a first down. Brees and Meachem connected for a short gain of three yards, but Brees' efforts on second and third downs missed their marks and K Garrett Hartley came on a got the Saints on the scoreboard with a 34-yard field goal, his first points of the season.
The Saints' defense pitched a three-and-out on their third defensive possession and forced the Redskins to punt, with Hunter Smith hammering a 51-yard effort to that was fielded by Reggie Bush. The Saints set up shop at their own 13 yard-line with 10:01 left in the first half. Pierre Thomas started the drive with a five-yard carry; then Bell picked up four yards and converted the first third down of the drive with a hard earned carry of three yards to the 25. After a Brees pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage on first down, Brees hooked up with Henderson for a gain of 14 yards and a first down to the Washington 39. Brees then used a timeout as the play-clock ticked down, knocking the first timeout of the half off of the clock for the Saints. Brees then tried a deep shot play to Henderson but it was broken up by S LaRon Landry near the Redskins' 10. Brees then hit Meachem for a gain of 10 yards and first down, then Thomas came right back with a nifty gain of 11 yards to the Washington 40. On the next play Brees bought time in the pocket and fired a deep pass into the end zone for a wide open Marques Colston, who hauled in the aerial and after Hartley's extra point the game was tied at 10-01 with 5:34 left in the first half.
The Redskins started at their own 27 and used short passes to take the ball near midfield. On a third-and-two Campbell aired out a pass to speedster Santana Moss for a gain of 38 yards to the Saints' 17. A six yard carry on the next play set up a six-yard completion to Moss on the next play with a football coming to rest on the Saints' five. New Orleans called a timeout with 2:27 left in the half, their second timeout of the first half. A first down pass intended for Moss was batted down by LB Troy Evans but the Redskins came back with a misdirection pass to WR Devin Thomas for five yards for the score and once again regained the lead, 17-10, after Suisham's extra points.
The Saints, once again trailing by a touchdown, set up shop at their own 21-yard line with just over two minutes to play. Brees hit Bush for a nine-yard gain to the 30 and the clock hit the two-minute warning. Brees then stumbled as he was stepping into a throw and misfired on an attempt to Colston. Bush was stopped shy of the first down and the Saints elected to punt. Morstead hit a wobbly punt off the side of his foot but bounced off of the shoulder of Redskins defender Kevin Barnes. S Usama Young pounced on the free ball at the Redskins 41. The Redskins were then guilty of an offsides infraction and Brees hit Bush over the middle for a gain of eight yards. A first down pass for Shockey was incomplete, as was a second down pass intended for Bush, but G Jahri Evans was flagged for an illegal man downfield and the Saints were pushed back five yards. Brees was then sacked by a blitzing Landy for an 11-yard loss to the Saints' 44. The Saints took their third and final timeout of the half with :43 left. Brees then scrambled, backed up and threw a desperation pass over the middle to Shockey. A diving interception was made by S Kareem Moore, who then got up and started to run to his left, WR Robert Meachem tracked down Moore and stripped the football from him and returned the ball 44 yards for a touchdown, and after the extra point the game was tied at 17-17 with :22 left in the game. The officials reviewed the play with instant replay equipment and determined the ruling on the field stood. The Redskins took the kickoff and downed the ball and headed into the locker room tied.
Washington stared the second half at their own 25 and on first down got a five-yard carry from Cartwright. Campbell's second down pass intended for WR Malcolm Kelly was incomplete as Courtney Roby/Mike McKenzie.aspx">Mike McKenzie had tight coverage down the sideline. Campbell, though, scrambled out of the pocket and connected with Randle El for a gain of 12 yards and a first down. Campbell then went up top and laid a perfect pass into the hands of WR Devin Thomas for a gain of 29 yards. The two then hooked up on second down for a gain of five yards. Cartwright then cutback for a seven-yard gain and a first down. A first down pass intended for Moss very nearly was intercepted after Moss juggled and then dropped the pass. Campbell hit Cartwright on a checkdown route for a gain of six yards. On third down the Saints blitzed and forced Campbell to throw the ball away, with Suisham coming in to boot home a 28-yard field goal.
Courtney Roby returned the Redskins' kickoff to the Saints' 48. Mike Bell had three consecutive carries of two yards, seven yards and was stopped on third-and-one at the 42. The Saints, needing about a foot, elected to go for it but Bell stopped for no gain in the backfield after the Redskins got into the backfield and the Saints turned it over on downs.
Washington took advantage of the good field position and immediately went up to the air again, with Campbell launching a deep pass to Devin Thomas for 40 yards. Three plays later the tandem hooked up for a 13-yard yard touchdown pass that put the Redskins ahead 27-17.
Starting at their own 21 the Saints gave the ball to Bell for a gain of seven yards then came back with a completion over the middle for a gain of 12 yards. Brees and Shockey then connected for a gain of eight yards. On second down at the 46 Bell was stopped for no gain. On third down Brees hit TE Dave Thomas for a gain of 21 yards to the Redskins 26. On the next play Brees hit a sliding Henderson for a gain of 15 yards to the 11. Pierre Thomas then picked his way through the line for a gain of three yards to the eight. Brees tried to hit Colston in the back of the end zone but Landry and Fred Smoot broke up the pass. A third down screen play o Henderson was snuffed out and the Saints called on Hartley to close the gap to within a touchdown. Hartley hit a 28-yard field goal to make the score 27-20 in the Redskins' favor.
The Redskins then marched 63 yards in nine plays, taking 4:44 off the clock before settling for a 28-yard field goal by Suisham that made the score 30-20. The biggest play of the drive was a third down pass from Campbell to Randle El that picked up 44 yards.
The Saints, starting at their own 21, used shorts passes to Meachem, TE David Thomas, a screen to Pierre Thomas, Shockey an a 29-yard third down completion to Meachem that took the ball deep into Redskins territory with just over eight minutes left in the game. Bell then tried the left side of the line but was stopped for a loss of one. Redskins DT Kedric Golston was injured on the play and the clock stopped with the football on the Washington 12. Brees hit Pierre Thomas on a screen but the running back appeared to slip as he was making a cutback and managed two yards to the 10. Brees called a timeout with 6:59 on the clock and the Saints facing third-and-nine from the 10. A third down pass intended for CB Byron Westbrook broke up Colston and Hartley came on and banged a 27-yard field through the uprights, closing the deficit to 30-23.
Following a 39-yard kickoff return by Thomas, Campbell hit FB Mike Sellers for a 16-yard gain, then Ganther picked up seven yards and quick out pass to Malcolm Kelly picked up seven yards. Campbell hit Thomas for two-yard loss, but CB Chris McAlister was flagged for a personal foul face-masking penalty. Ganther picked up two yards to the Saints' 14 and then added seven yards on second down to the Saints' seven. Ganther picked up three yards on a third-and-one to the four and the Redskins kept the ball on the ground with a gain of one-yard to the three. The Saints took their last timeout with 2:46 left on the clock and were able to stop the Redskins shy of the end zone and force a 23-yard field goal attempt by Suisham from the Saints' four. Suisham's 23-yard field goal, though, sailed wide to the right and the Saints with the ball on the 20.
Brees hit Thomas over the middle for a gain of four yards. Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth was shaken up for the Redskins and the Redskins were charged with a timeout with 1:43 left on the game clock. Brees then hit Henderson on a comeback route for a gain of 11 yards and a first down at the 35. A first down pass intended for Colston over the middle of the field was incomplete but Brees came right back and hit Meachem for a gain of 12 yards and the receivers curried out of bounds and stopped the clock. On the next play Brees hit Meachem down the seam for a 53-yard touchdown pass after Meachem got behind three Redskins defenders. Hartley's extra point tied the game at 30-30 with 1:19 left in the game.
Washington took over at their own 24 and managed to drive near midfield but Campbell was intercepted by Jonathan Vilma at the Saints' 46. Campbell attempted to hit TE Fred Davis in the flat but Vilma stepped in front of the pass and was carried out of bounds by his momentum. A holding call on Jermon Bushrod pushed the Saints back 10 yards, and a pass on first down to Henderson was incomplete. A second down pass to Meachem gained 15 yards to the 49 with :18 left. The officials reviewed the play to make sure Meachem had both feet down and the ruling on the field stood. Brees then hit Bush out of the backfield for a gain of nine yards. The Saints ran one more play to try to get a few more yards but Brees's pass was knocked down by DE Andre Carter. Hartley's 58-yard field goal attempt was short and the ball was returned a short distance by Fred Smoot.
The Redskins won the coin toss and elected to receive and they set up shop at their own 20 to start overtime. Campbell hit Moss on a quick turnaround for a gain of 10 yards and a first down. On second down Ganther picked up six yards and a pass on second down to Sellers picked up three yards before being decked by McAlister. The officials elected to review the play, as it appeared the football was coming loose from Sellers' grasp after the caught the ball and took two steps. Evans and sellers battled for the ball, though McAlister came up with it at the Redskins 37. The officials ruled, after the review, the Saints recovered the ball and were given possession of the ball at the 37.
Brees then hit Henderson for a gain of 13 yards to the 25 and Bell then took a carry for a gain of one yard. Brees then hit TE David Thomas for a quick gain of four yards to the Redskins 20. On third-and-five from the 20 Brees hit Colston for a gain of six yards to the 14 and a first down. Payton then sent in Hartley and the field goal unit to attempt a 32-yard field goal but the Redskins called a timeout and Payton sent the offense back in and Bell hammered a nine-yard run to the five. Bell then added a four-yard run to the one and on second down was stopped for no gain after somersaulting behind the line. The officials elected to review the play and the call on the field was upheld. On second-and-one from the one, Hartley came on to try an 18-yard field goal and drilled it through the uprights as the Saints improved to 12-0 with the 33-30 overtime win.
Saints Inactives: K John Carney, WR Lance Moore, CB Randall Gay, CB Tracy Porter, CB Jabari Greer, LB Marvin Mitchell, LB Scott Fujita and G Jamar Nesbit.
Redskins Inactives: QB Richard Bartel (3rd QB), CB Justin Tryon, CB DeAngelo Hall, RB Clinton Portis, C Edwin Williams, LB Alvin Bowen, G Paul Fanaika and DE Renaldo Wynn.
The Saints made the following changes to their starting lineup: Troy Evans started in place of Scott Fujita at strong-side linebacker. CB Courtney Roby/Mike McKenzie.aspx">Mike McKenzie started at left cornerback in place of Jabari Greer and CB Malcolm Jenkins started at right cornerback in place of Tracy Porter. The Saints' captains for the game were Drew Brees, Pierson Prioleau, Troy Evans, Mark Brunell and Jonathan Vilma.
Notable statistics: Brees had a passer rating of 102.3 and for the season own a passer rating of 111.3. Brees, in 2009, has completed 69.1% of his passes (271-of-392) for 3,536 yards with 29 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Brees has only been sacked 15 times this season, with one coming this afternoon.
Running Back Mike Bell had 16 carries for 34 yards, while Pierre Thomas had six carries for 18 yards. The Saints' defense limited the Redskins running backs to 88 yards on 25 carries.
Meachem led the Saints in receiving yards (142-a career high) on eight receptions. Meachem and Pierre Thomas led the team in receptions with eight each, with Devery Henderson adding six for 61 yards, Jeremy Shockey registering four for 47 yards. Reggie Bush chipped in with four for 28, David Thomas adding three for 31 yards and Marques Colston adding a pair for 46 yards, including his big 40 yard touchdown pass.
Defensively the Saints were by rookie cornerback Malcolm Jenkins' eight stops and one pass defensed. DT Sedrick Ellis had six stops, including one for a loss, DT Remi Ayodele had six stops and one for a loss, Vilma had five stops and the interception in the fourth quarter, while Troy Evans, who filled in the injured Scott Fuijta at outside linebacker, had five stops and a pass defensed. Sharper had five stops and LB Scott Shanle added four stops.