- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2018

After Drew Brees became the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards Monday, the game stopped momentarily.

The Saints quarterback had just completed a 62-yard touchdown pass to receiver Tre’Quon Smith — and the crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome erupted.

Brees, who needed just 201 yards to break Peyton Manning’s record of 71,940 career yards, greeted and thanked his teammates. He went over and celebrated with his family — cementing a moment he’s likely to remember for the rest of his life.

The Redskins, however, would rather forget it.

Washington had no answer for Brees and the Saints Monday in a 43-19 loss, allowing the quarterback to throw for 363 yards while completing 89.6 percent of his passes for three touchdowns. Brees’ quarterback rating? Nearly perfect.

The Redskins (2-2) were embarrassed, stumbling through an inept performance that was especially baffling, given that the team was coming off a bye.

“Overall, our whole team played poorly and that’s a reflection of myself,” coach Jay Gruden said. “I think everybody in that locker room, hopefully, will say they need to play better. And I absolutely understand the coaches on this staff have to coach better. And that’s the only way we can look at it.”

The Redskins couldn’t get out of their own way early. On the Saints’ first drive of the game, Washington seemingly made a stop on third down that would have forced a three-and-out — but cornerback Josh Norman committed a holding penalty that allowed the Saints to extend the drive. New Orleans took advantage, later scoring on a two-yard rushing touchdown from Mark Ingram.

Washington needed to respond and did, to a point, marching down the field and answering the Saint’s touchdown with a field goal. Quarterback Alex Smith’s 23-yard strike to Paul Richardson set the Redskins up in the red zone, but a third-down sack led to a 37-yard field goal for kicker Dustin Hopkins.

On the next series, it got worse.

First, a Ryan Kerrigan sack, his first of the year, was all for naught as safety Montae Nicholson was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty after shoving a Saints lineman. Then, on the same drive, Quinton Dunbar was called for defensive holding in the end zone — and Brees hit tight end Josh Hill for a one-yard touchdown instead of the Saints settling for the field goal.

“Communication, man,” defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said. “Communication was horrible. I mean, it’s worse when you beat yourself. … They did beat our [expletive], but we didn’t help our cause having guys run wide open, not getting pressure, not stopping the run, not everything.”

To get back in the game, the Redskins needed to be perfect. They weren’t. Washington’s vanilla offense couldn’t keep up with the pace set by Brees and his elite unit and the Redskins defense couldn’t stop it.

The Redskins’ lone first-half touchdown came on a four-yard quarterback draw by Smith after a rare Saints’ mistake, a fumble deep in their own territory scooped up by linebacker Pernell McPhee.

Down 26-13 at the half, the Redskins tried to make adjustments in the third quarter.

Coach Jay Gruden benched Norman to start the second half, opting to play rookie Greg Stroman — who was subsequently burned en route to a 35-yard touchdown from Brees to Smith. Norman returned later on.

Smith, meanwhile, was off-target almost all night, overthrowing open receivers or zinging passes into the turf at their feet.

In the third quarter, he committed two costly turnovers, throwing an interception that was returned for 77 yards and losing a fumble as he was sacked for a loss of seven.

The 34-year-old quarterback finished the game just 23 for 39 for 275 yards.

Certainly I think we’re all disappointed with a bunch of uncharacteristic things, I felt like. Myself included in that. What we did tonight,” Smith said. “Hats off to them. They came out and were rolling from the get-go and continued to do that all night. Offensively, couldn’t get started offensively, early found ourselves in a hole and were one-dimensional and still couldn’t get much from that.”

The Redskins were without Josh Doctson (heel) and Smith’s offensive line gave up three sacks.

Washington didn’t have the same rushing attack as it did in its two wins. Running back Adrian Peterson (knee) was hurt on the second play of the game, and while he returned, he was limited in the second half. Trailing for all of the game, the Redskins also abandoned the running game.

Peterson, who had just six yards on four attempts, said in addition to the knee injury, he “dislocated” his shoulder in the second quarter.

With the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants all losing a day earlier, the Redskins entered the game with the chance to extend their lead in the NFC East to a game and a half.

Instead, the Redskins will now have to regroup on a short week to be ready for the 3-1 Carolina Panthers.

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