- The Washington Times
Sunday, November 19, 2017

NEW ORLEANS — Nothing is ever easy for the Washington Redskins. On a day when the Redskins seemed poised to win despite losing star running back Chris Thompson, Washington ended up letting the Saints steal a 34-31 overtime win.

The Redskins melted down — allowing two touchdowns within a span of two minutes of game-time. With 1:53 left, the Saints marched down the field and scored a touchdown and the two-point conversion to tie the game.

In overtime, the Redskins went three-and-out and the Saints had just a three-play, 51-yard drive to set up a 28-yard field goal from kicker Will Lutz.

The Redskins defense squandered any momentum the offense built after Thompson went down with an injury.

Moments after Thompson left the field on a cart in the third quarter, Washington successfully pulled off a fake punt.

Already backed up at their own 20, the ball was directly snapped to tight end Niles Paul, who rushed for a 5-yard gain. The play was so quick — so surprising — that those in the stadium had barely time to process it.

The Redskins, already leading by fourth at that point, continued to move down the field with urgency — capping it off with Kirk Cousins finding a wide open Ryan Grant for a 40-yard touchdown. Cousins was drilled by an all-out blitz, but delivered a perfect ball to an uncovered Grant, who literally walked into the end zone.

The fake punt to Paul was the type of aggression the Redskins had demonstrated all afternoon.

In the second quarter, the Redskins went for it on fourth-and-6 from New Orleans’ 36-yard line instead of going for a field goal. Cousins threw a perfectly timed pass to tight end Vernon Davis for 26 yards. The gutsy call helped set up a 1-yard touchdown from Samaje Perine, giving the Redskins a 17-10 lead.

After all, the Redskins couldn’t afford to leave points on the board.

In each of Washington’s losses, there were moments where the game spiraled out of control because of a failure to capitalize on opportunities. Last week, for instance, the Redskins botched a two-minute drill against the Vikings which led to a costly 14-point swing.

The end-of-the-game collapse against the Saints was even more dramatic.

Early Sunday, the Redskins appeared to be on the same path against the Saints. Safety D.J. Swearinger picked off Drew Brees on just the third play of the day at the 49-yard line, but the Redskins‘ drive stalled outside the red zone — forcing Washington to settle for three points.

But Brees and the Saints are too good of an offense for opponents to miss chances — or more importantly, make mistakes.

Saints running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram were dangerous from the get go. New Orleans finished with 160 yards on just 23 carries — an unbelievable 7 yards per carry average.

Even Cousins, who was mostly terrific Sunday, couldn’t make up for the defense’s woes. And Cousins committed his fair share of mistakes late, too — getting called for a costly intentional grounding call late in the fourth to put the Redskins out of field goal range. He was later sacked in overtime.

He started his day further developing his chemistry with wide receiver Josh Doctson. The connection has been a major storyline throughout the season and each game, it appears the duo are getting better.

By the end of the first quarter, Doctson already had a career-high in yards with 66. Even when contested, Cousins is delivering balls into tight windows and Doctson is catching them — something he struggled with earlier in the year.

Cousins finished with 322 yards and three touchdowns.

In the fourth quarter, Brees cut the Redskins lead to eight, 31-23, with 2:53 left on a touchdown. Brees added another touchdown to Kamra. Both drives were explosive, and the Redskins couldn’t stop them.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.