- The Washington Times - Monday, December 7, 2009

FIRST QUARTER

What happened: Fred Smoot dropped a sure interception on a broken play. Another screen left the Saints short of a first down. A perfect punt buried the Redskins, who came out throwing. On third down, Fred Davis caught a crossing pass from Jason Campbell for the first touchdown of the day. Shaun Suisham nailed a 32-yarder when the drive stalled, giving the Redskins a 10-0 lead.

Analysis: For perhaps the first time this season, Washington’s defense and offense showed up at the same time, ready to go at the opening whistle. The return of Albert Haynesworth made an obvious difference, and the Saints were getting nowhere on the ground (minus-1 yard on the quarter). The Redskins, meanwhile, did a nice job of protecting Campbell.

SECOND QUARTER


What happened: Drew Brees picked apart Washington through the air on a nine-play, 87-yard drive that ended with a long pass to Marques Colston. Washington quickly seized the momentum back with a nine-play touchdown drive of its own. A New Orleans punt bounced off Kevin Barnes on its way to Antwaan Randle El, and the Saints recovered. Then Kareem Moore intercepted Brees but had the ball stripped by Robert Meachem, who returned it for a touchdown.

Analysis: After a slow start, New Orleans regrouped and got its explosive unit rolling. But the two touchdowns Washington allowed must have been painful to watch from the sideline - one on a long play from Brees to Colston, the second on the strip of Moore. The mix of two blunders and a long replay review had the ability to suck the air out of a team and stadium.

THIRD QUARTER

What happened: Campbell continued to attack through the air before the drive stalled in the red zone; the Redskins settled for a 28-yard field goal to reclaim the lead. After another long kick return, New Orleans answered with a three-and-out, then got stuffed on a fourth-and-1 play. Washington made the short field significantly shorter when Campbell hit Devin Thomas for a 40-yard gain. Two plays later they hooked up again for a 13-yard touchdown. New Orleans fell short inside the 10 and settled for another short field goal.

Analysis: Washington regrouped well during halftime; it answered with consecutive scoring drives before New Orleans got settled. The Saints came out attempting to establish the run, and that attempt failed - just as it had in the first half.

FOURTH QUARTER

What happened: Washington got another field goal, making it a two-score game again. New Orleans answered with a 12-play drive but settled for a field goal. With good field position, the Redskins’ drive slowed when they attempted to run out the clock. Suisham’s field goal attempt sailed wide right. With the Redskins playing soft defense, the Saints needed only five plays to punch it in on a 53-yard pass to Robert Meachem.

Analysis: The Redskins seen during much of the first half re-emerged in the second stage of the fourth quarter, with drives quickly drying up, the quarterback getting rushed out of the pocket and turnovers at the worst time. It let a team the Redskins had dominated ultimately get back into the game.

OVERTIME

What happened: Campbell completed a pass for a first down, then handed off to Quinton Ganther. But on the next play, Mike Sellers fumbled after catching a pass, and the ball was recovered by Chris McAlister. After another long replay review, Brees led the Saints to the Washington 1 before they settled for the game-ending field goal.

Analysis: Sellers lost control of the ball right before hitting the ground, which the replay booth noticed after New Orleans wisely called a timeout. Washington almost got the play off. Instead, New Orleans got the short field and a quick path to victory.