Landover, Md. – The New Orleans Saints had a wild ride Sunday, Oct. 10 at FedEx Field. Their 33-22 victory over Washington had enough swings to last a handful of games, but the Saints (3-2) finally were able to separate because of several standout performances.
OFFENSE: Jameis Winston completed 15 passes for 279 yards and four touchdowns, including a career-long 72-yard pass to Deonte Harty. And running back Alvin Kamara couldn't be contained even though he was the obvious focal point of the offense (16 carries for 71yards and a touchdown, five catches for 51 yards and another score). Kamara is a brilliant player. But second-year receiver Marquez Callaway came up with the play of the game, a 49-yard, Hail-Mary, jump ball catch as time expired in the first half to give New Orleans a 20-13 lead. It was an unexpected jolt of adrenaline, and Callaway finished with four catches for 85 yards and two scores, the second of which gave the Saints a 27-16 lead in the fourth quarter. New Orleans needed someone to step up and help Kamara, with Harris (hamstring) and Taysom Hill (concussion) out. Callaway answered the call.
DEFENSE: Cornerback Marshon Lattimore picked up a pass interference call in the end zone. It'll be hard to locate another mistake he made against Washington. Lattimore was at his lockdown best Sunday, with half of New Orleans' 12 passes defensed. Time and again, WFT tested Lattimore and six times, he got a hand on the ball. It was an incredible display of coverage, the kind that shows how dominant Lattimore can be in the secondary. No Washington receiver was exempt from his smothering presence and if he continues to play the way he has in his first four starts this season, he'll be earning the accolades that go along with that level of play.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Maybe, punter Blake Gillikin will be named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Probably, he should. Gillikin punted five times for a 53.6-yard average, but more, it was the placement of his booming kicks. Three were downed inside the 20 – two bounced out of bounds and the third was downed by gunner Ty Montgomery. His 60-yard punt in the second quarter took a hard turn and bounced out of bounds at the 1-yard line. It turned out to be pivotal; the Saints' defense produced a three-and-out and after Kamara's 14-yard punt return, Winston threw the Hail Mary, 49-yard touchdown pass to Callaway to end the first half. Gillikin was as valuable on special teams as a punter can be in a game, and the Saints needed him to be on Sunday.