LANDOVER -- The New Orleans Saints improved to 3-2 on the season after knocking off The Washington Football Team on Sunday. Sean Payton's team showed a little bit of everything in their road performance, but they were able to put together an encouraging road victory as they prepare to go into their bye week.
New Orleans called heads on the coin toss, but it was tails. Washington deferred the kickoff to the second half, and placed the Saints on offense to start.
The Saints went very pass heavy to open the game, as Jameis Winston had five straight throws on the opening drive. However, his fifth attempt was intercepted by Cole Holcomb. It looked like Winston was hit as he threw in the leg area on a pass intended for Taysom Hill. Washington couldn't do much on the drive, but did cash in with a 45-yard Dustin Hopkins field goal to take an early 3-0 lead with 12:27 left in the opening quarter.
It appeared The Football Team had some momentum after stopping the Saints on their first two offensive plays on the ensuing drive, but on 3rd-and-7, Winston found Deonte Harris on a bomb play where he left defenders in the dust to get the Saints on the board on a 72-yard touchdown to make it 7-3 with 11:13 left in the first quarter.
The Football Team responded by putting together a 12-play, 72-yard drive that took 6:18 off the clock. The series saw big plays to Adam Humphries and Terry McLaurin, while runs to Curtis Samuel and Antonio Gibson also helped. However, when it counted most, the Saints defense stood tall and was able to force another Hopkins field goal to make it 7-6 with 4:55 left in the first quarter. A big 3rd-and-Goal pass breakup by Marshon Lattimore in the end zone on Ricky Seals-Jones also helped.
The next New Orleans offensive possession looked promising to start, as Winston found Alvin Kamara on a very well-designed screen play to open that went 20 yards. However, a couple of plays later, Winston was sacked by Chase Young and was stripped of the football in the process.
The Saints defense ended up holding and forcing a punt after some good plays, but a Carl Granderson roughing the punter call kept Washington on the field, and they immediately benefitted from a defensive pass interference call on Bradley Roby, who appeared to replace Paulson Adebo. Two plays into the second quarter, The Football Team took the lead after an Antonio Gibson rushing touchdown from 5 yards out.
The next Saints drive got a little of everything. We saw Deonte Harris missing from the kickoff, as Ty Montgomery was back deep. He was not spotted on the sideline, and the offense went to work. Taysom Hill got involved from the start, picking up 11 yards on the first play of the series. A couple of plays later, Winston found Marquez Callaway for a 10-yard pickup.
Following a timeout from pre-snap confusion, Taysom Hill would get hit in the head by William Jackson III and go down on the field. He ended up sitting up, but was carted to the locker room. Alvin Kamara handled the rest of the drive, as he had a 12-yard screen play and then followed it up with a 23-yard rushing touchdown. Cody Parkey missed the extra point, and we were tied at 13-13 at the 11:05 mark of the second quarter.
The next WFT possession saw them get into Saints territory quickly, and it appeared they were set to put some points on the board. Their 8-play, 69-yard drive ended with rookie Paulson Adebo getting a pick near the goal line, giving the Saints back the ball at their own 2-yard line. Unfortunately, being deep in their own territory didn't yield any results, as New Orleans had to punt following a three-and-out.
The Football Team took over at the Saints' 47-yard-line, and ended up being aggressive on their drive. With the shorter field, they elected to go for it on a 4th-and-10 play, but New Orleans could not do anything with it on their next series. However, Blake Gillikin ended up pinning Washington at their own 1-yard-line.
The Saints defense held strong and was able to force a Washington punt with a small time left for the offense to do something with it, and they did not disappoint. It took one play, but Winston launched the Hail Mary ball and connected with Marquez Callaway on a 49-yard score with no time left.
As Washington took the kickoff, the Saints defense forced a quick three-and-out, and New Orleans returned the favor. Blake Gillkin dropped another outstanding punt, this time pinning The Football Team inside their own 3-yard-line. After picking up a first down, their drive would stall out and a great play by Marshon Lattimore on 3rd-and-2 forced a punt. Unfortunately, New Orleans gave it right back, as they had a real big play to Alvin Kamara on a wheel route that he could not come up with.
Washington would take advantage on their next drive, going on a 14-play, 69-yard drive that took 7:20 off the clock. The Saints defense would respond and tighten in the red zone, forcing an easy field goal for Hopkins to make it 20-16 with 1:53 left in the third quarter. On the series, Washington was able to run the ball effectively, and the Saints were eager to help with some bad tackling. However, they'd escape with just allowing three points.
New Orleans was able to run a few extra plays on their next possession, but punted back to Washington and once again pinned them deep thanks to Gillkin with a little help from Ty Montgomery. The Football Team ran three plays, and their 3rd Down one was disastrous. Taylor Heinicke threw a ball that shouldn't have been thrown, and P.J. Williams was too eager to pick it off and return it for a few yards. It took the Saints four plays to get into the end zone, as Callaway got his second score of the day, this time from 12 yards out.
Washington refused to go away, as they piloted a touchdown drive of their own to make it 27-22 after the 2-point attempt failed with 7:51 left in the game. It was an 8-play, 75-yard drive that took 4:21 off the clock and was aided by some penalties. However, you have to give The Football Team some credit after going for it on 4th-and-14 from the Saints' 49-yard-line and picking up 26 yards. Taylor Heinicke followed that up with a 16-yard scramble, and Antonio Gibson took it in a few plays later from a yard out.
New Orleans took over and ended up putting together a statement drive, one that ended up sinking Washington. It was an 8-play, 75-yard drive that saw the Saints be aggressive and go for it on a 4th-and-1 from their own 34-yard-line. Winston followed that up by hitting Adam Trautman for a 32-yard gain that put them into Football Team territory. A few plays later, Winston hooked up with Kamara for his 12th passing touchdown of the season, a 19-yarder.
Washington made things interesting, immediately connecting on a 27-yard hookup to Adam Humphries that put them across midfield. However, the Saints defense would stiffen and get some more great play from Marshon Lattimore, as the Saints got the ball back on downs with 2:45 to play.
New Orleans was able to bleed the clock down to zero, and earned a hard-fought road win. The Saints will be on their bye week for Week 6 action, as they hope to get some players back for Week 7's big Monday Night meeting with the Seahawks.