January 19, 2021

Washington Redskins: Cousins takes advantage of bad Saints defense and score most points since 2005

In a “must-win” game for both the Washington Redskins and the New Orleans Saints, both sides faced off on a beautiful fall day at FedEx Field. Although Drew Brees still can orchestrate one of the most elite offenses in the league, Washington knew they would have their chances to put up points as well against a bad Saints defense. After an early shootout that resulted in a tie game, 14-14, the Washington Redskins scored 33 unanswered points

Things got off to a rocky start to say the least for Washington. Kick returner Rashad Ross made the cardinal sin of reversing his field, multiple times, and ended up running about 60 yards to get out to the eight yard line before a penalty moved the ball back to the four. Then after a big run by Alfred Morris was called back for a hold on Morgan Moses, Washington might have been looking to simply give Tress Way room to punt.

(Photo by: @Redskins)

(Photo by: @Redskins)

On a third-and-4 from their own 10, the return of the real DeSean Jackson was felt. Jackson smoked Keenan Lewis off the line of scrimmage and Kirk Cousins dropped it in the bucket for a 42 yard gain. Alfred Morris had one of his most productive drives in a long time with 26 yards on the ground and 11 more receiving. His effectiveness in the ground game helped the Redskins sell a strong bootleg that resulted in a dump off to Jordan Reed who took it 16 yards to the house for an opening drive touchdown.

Defensively, the Redskins had a chance to keep and get even more momentum by forcing a three-and-out as the Saints were facing a third-and-2. DaShon Goldson had a chance to drop Mark Ingram short of the line to gain, but did not wrap up and the former Heisman winner went for 70 yards to the Washington 5 before a hustling Will Blackmon delayed a touchdown. Two plays later, Brees hit Brandin Cooks on a quick slant route to beat Bashaud Breeland and tie the game.

After it was Morris’s time to shine on the first drive, Matt Jones made his presence felt on the second. After picking up 20 yards on a third-and-2 to prevent a quick three-and-out, Jones also took advantage of a well schemed screen pass for a 29 yard gain into the red zone. On the very next play, Cousins continued his perfect start with a strike to Jamison Crowder for another Redskins touchdown.

The Washington defense responded after giving up a huge play by forcing a three-and-out on the next Saints possession. After forcing New Orleans to fall behind the down and distance with a negative run on first down and short pickup on second, Washington’s Stephen Paea got his first full sack of the season on third down. After picking up one first down on Cousins’s 10th consecutive completion, the Redskins had to punt it right back. Cousins threw incomplete on back to back throws with the latter nearly being picked off were it not for Crowder playing good defense on third down.

(Photo by: @Redskins)

(Photo by: @Redskins)

It did not take long for Brees to get his team back in it. After back to back double digit yard gains, Brees had time to throw deep to an open Cooks for an easy touchdown. Ryan Kerrigan nearly got home but was a split second too late to prevent DeAngelo Hall, playing safety, and Breeland from getting burned. The shootout would continue as Washington came back with a touchdown two plays later on a 78 yard screen pass to Jones. For the second straight time, there was excellent blocking from all involved. Brandon Scherff and Josh LeRibeus helped Jones pick up the first down, then Derek Carrier, DeSean Jackson, and Trent Williams (30 yards down the field) helped Jones breakaway.

After having just one sack over the previous three games, the Redskins were bringing pressure and it started to pay off. Trent Murphy and Chris Baker met at Brees for the team’s second sack that eventually forced a Saints punt.

Washington opened up their next drive with two more big plays from their running backs. Cousins dumped it off to Jones as a checkdown, but the Florida product turned it into a 24 yard chunk play. On the very next play, with Alfred Morris in the locker room for a ribs injury, Chris Thompson got a carry that where he turned on the jets for a huge 38 yard gain. Things nearly turned into a disaster as Cousins tried to throw across his body to the “tight end” Tom Compton which after a deflection turned into an interception. Luckily Jordan Reed, Cousins first option, drew a holding penalty to keep the drive alive. Things eventually stalled on third down when Reed was double covered in the end zone, but a Dustin Hopkins field goal made it 24-14 in favor of Washington.

Besides a couple of big plays given up by the defense, they did a solid job protecting the lead as they forced a three-and-out after the Saints again got behind the down and distance because of an offensive pass interference penalty. Washington almost gave the ball right back at the end of the half, but a defensive illegal contact penalty on third down kept the drive alive. The big play offense would continue after Thompson picked up 23 yards on a dump off and then a 31 yard pick up on a Crowder screen with more effective blocking. Cousins wasted a bit too much time by not spiking the ball, which made the Redskins settle for a field that put them up 27-14 at halftime.

The Saints methodically began to move it down the Redskins throats and the quick tempo pace started to wear down the defensive players. Hands were on their hips and probably all Redskins fans were worried about another third quarter collapse. The tide started to turn as soon as Breeland was able to push Marques Colston out of bounds less than a yard short of the first down. Then Washington stuffed former Redskins back Tim Hightower and Sean Payton made the decision to bypass a 48 yard field goal attempt from former Redskins place kicker Kai Forbath to go for it on fourth-and-1. For the second straight play, the Redskins front seven got excellent penetration led by veteran defensive tackle Kedric Golston and Chris Baker and forced a turnover.

Morris would immediately flip field position with a 28 yard rush over the left side. Matt Jones would then pick up another first down on great individual effort on third down, but the Redskins would again see their drive stall just outside of the red zone. Luckily for Washington, Saints would continue to shoot themselves in the foot with an offensive penalty that would lead to a quick three and out.

Washington would capitalize on the great field position starting with back to back 14 yard gains from Alfred Morris and Derek Carrier. Then when facing a third down in the red zone, Kirk Cousins recognized the zero coverage blitz the Saints were bringing and killed to a hot read, which he had not just before halftime. Jordan Reed won his one-on-one matchup with Brandon Browner and Kirk Cousins got the ball out quick for his fourth touchdown of the game, Reed’s second.

Things got even better for the Redskins defense on a third-and-9 play where I am sure Gruden would have been happy to simply force a punt. Brees delivered high to Benjamin Watson who was covered well by Will Blackmon. Watson deflected the ball into the waiting arms of DaShon Goldson who high-stepped it back into the end zone for a pick-6.

Things would only get better for the defense as they looked to have forced another three-and-out for the Saints. Drew Brees waived the punt team off the field and decided to go for it on fourth-and-4 from his own 22 yard line. Surprisingly, the Redskins defense stayed poised and focus and forced a check down short of the line to gain after good coverage deep. Washington would tack on another chip shot field goal to make it 47-14.

During garbage time, things got every more out of control for the Saints. After moving the ball into Redskins territory, Brees under threw Watson down the field and the recently criticized Perry Riley Jr. made an incredible interception through the offensive pass interference. Even though the Redskins punted, the Saints were unable to put up any points during garbage time and Washington won 47-14.

The Washington Redskins scored their most points since dropping 52 on the San Francisco in 2005 when Clinton Portis was still around. They are still a long way from making the playoffs, but in the muddled NFC East there is always a chance. Unfortunately, they will have to travel to the undefeated Carolina Panthers next week.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.


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