<span> <span style="text-decoration: underline;">NEW ORLEANS SAINTS SEEK TO CLINCH NFC SOUTH ON ROAD TRIP TO WASHINGTON </span>
Facing the challenge of a short week of recovery and preparation following a 38-17 victory over the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football, the New Orleans Saints will seek to clinch the NFC South and at least retain their one game lead atop the conference standings when they travel to the nation's capital to face the Washington Redskins (3-8) at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.
The Saints enter the matchup against the Redskins with an 11-0 record. The Saints and the Indianapolis Colts are the only unbeaten NFL teams remaining entering week 13. The Saints put up 480 yards of offense against the Patriots on Monday night, while defensively they forced QB Tom Brady into one of his toughest days of the season. QB Drew Brees enjoyed one of the finest performances of his career, completing 18-of-23 passes for 371 yards with five touchdowns and a passer rating of 158.3, the first time in his career that he had a perfect rating. Brees also became the first quarterback to throw five scoring passes in a game against a club coached by Bill Belichick.
Brees spread the football around to seven different targets with five different players, RB Pierre Thomas, WR Devery Henderson, WR Robert Meachem, TE Darnell Dinkins and WR Marques Colston each catching touchdowns from him. Colston (121) and Henderson (116) each posted over 100 receiving yards in the contest, the first time two Saints reached the century mark on the same day since the duo did so together previously in 2006. A steady rushing attack complemented the passing game as RB Pierre Thomas carried 11
times for 64 yards and Mike Bell had 13 rushes for 50 yards.
Defensively, the Saints allowed a high-flying Patriot offense to successfully convert only 4-of-13 (31%) attempts on third down and to allow them to score only two touchdowns. CB Courtney Roby/Mike McKenzie.aspx">Mike McKenzie made his 2009 debut as a Saint and recorded four solo tackles, a first quarter interception and three pass defenses, including a critical fourth down pass intended for WR Randy Moss deep in Saints territory that thwarted a Patriots scoring opportunity. S Darren Sharper picked off Brady and returned it 38 yards later in the game for his eighth interception of the season, which pulled him back into a tie for the NFL lead. Sharper now has a 355 interception return yards on the season and needs only four return yards to set a single season NFL record. DE Will Smith led a relentless Saints pass rush. Smith recorded four solo tackles and 1.5 sacks. This performance capped a month where Smith had a league-leading 7.5 sacks. With ten takedowns through 11 games, he is one-half sack shy of his career-high of 10.5 set in 2006.
Brees and the Saints top-ranked offense will face a stiff challenge against a stingy Washington defense as they try to punch their ticket to the postseason. Despite their struggles in the ultra-competitive NFC East in 2009, the Redskins are ranked seventh defensively and are the top-ranked club in the NFL versus the pass.
DATE: Sunday, Dec. 6
TIME: Noon (CT)
SITE: FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland
WORTH NOTING: With a win, New Orleans would have their third 12-win season in club history. The Saints went 12-3 in 1987 and 12-4 in 1992...With a New Orleans win or tie or an Atlanta loss or tie on Sunday, the Saints would clinch the NFC South...New Orleans ranks first in the NFL in offense, fifth rushing and fourth passing the ball...New Orleans is ranked 16th defensively, 20th against the run and 18th versus the pass. The Redskins are ranked 25th offensively, 21st rushing and 20th passing...Washington is ranked seventh defensively, 25th against the run and first against the pass...Sunday's contest will be regionally televised on FOX (WVUE locally) with Sam Rosen handling play-by-play and Tim Ryan serving as color analyst...The game can heard regionally on the Saints Radio Network (WWL 870 AM and 105.3 FM locally) with Jim Henderson handling play-by-play, Hokie Gajan serving as color analyst and Kristian Garic reporting from the Saints sidelines...A Spanish language broadcast can be heard on WFNO 830 AM with Emilio Peralta handling play-by-play and Marco Garcia serving as color analyst.
Saints coach Sean Payton has posted a record of 36-23 in the regular season and 1-1 in the postseason. He is the lone head coach in club history to open a season with 11 straight wins and post an 11-game winning streak, and has the top all-time winning percentage (.610) for a Saints head coach. His 19-11 (.633) home record and 17-12 (.586) road mark are both the top winning percentages in club history. Payton has recorded a 27-16 (.628) mark vs. NFC opponents. In 2006, he took the Saints to the NFC Championship and was named the NFL Coach of the Year by most major media outlets. Payton was hired as New
Orleans' 14th head coach on January 18, 2006, after serving on the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff from 2003-2005. He has successfully overtaken a rebuilding project by reshaping the majority of the team's roster, with only nine players remaining from the 2005 campaign.
Prior to joining the Cowboys, Payton served on the New York Giants staff from 1999-2002, including the final three seasons as offensive coordinator. His tenure was highlighted by a Super Bowl berth in his first full season in New York as offensive coordinator. Payton's prior NFL coaching experience came as quarterbacks coach for the Philadelphia Eagles from
Washington head coach Jim Zorn is in his second season in charge of the Redskins and leading an NFL club. Zorn joined the Redskins from the Seattle Seahawks where he spent seven seasons (2001-07) as quarterbacks coach. He joined the Seahawks after serving in the same capacity with the Detroit Lions from 1995-96, where he started his NFL coaching career. Zorn spent eight seasons in the collegiate ranks at Boise State, Utah State and the University of Minnesota after an 11-year NFL playing career, nine seasons of which were spent with the Seattle Seahawks. Zorn is second all-time in most major passing categories for the Seahawks with whom he played nine years of his NFL career. Zorn's head coaching currently is 11-16.