The Redskins backs were against the wall against a red hot New Orleans Saints. Their defense made an early statement off a D.J. Swearinger interception on the Redskins’ first defensive possession. The running game was the best it had been in a year. Cousins was feeding Doctson early and often resulting in 6 targets in the first half. The Saints and Redskins traded blows with the Redskins holding the Saints to field goals early on. Taking a lead into the half felt good for the Redskins and the fan base.
What was beautiful about the first half could not be duplicated in the second half. Chris Thompson went down with a broken right fibula. Questionable play calling on offense and defense will leave us scratching our heads. The Redskins were not able to contain both Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara for a full sixty minutes. Kamara tied the game up with a juggling TD reception and scoring the 2-point conversion on a toss.
Drops once again caused problems in overtime. Vernon Davis dropped a key 2nd down pass that led to a punt and then Will Lutz’s game winning field goal to drop the Redskins to 4-6 and all but out of the playoffs.
Player of the Game
This could have gone to a couple of guys, but Kirk Cousins had a monster game and made plays when he needed to. You will have those “Never-Kirkers” arguing about the intentional grounding, but that was not on him and will be touched on again below. Every time he was pressured, he stepped up and made the necessary throw. He was dropping dimes and putting the ball in places that only his receivers could get them for a majority of the game.
Cousins showed his grittiness once again after taking a cheap shot to the head and marching his team down for six. He has had to carry this team time and again and was able to put his team in position to win this game.
There are a few moments that could get this tag, but for me, the turning point was the Redskins not converting on 3rd and 1 with 2:38 left on the clock. If you make this first down, the game is over, and you are heading back to D.C. at 5-5 and the toughest part of your schedule behind you. Once the offensive line was beat, and Perine was stuffed, you could feel the momentum fully swing in the Saints favor. From that failed conversion, it was a complete team collapse.
Passing Game: C+
What else can you say about Kirk Cousins?
He finished the day 22-32 for 322 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INTs. He came up big when needed and was clutch again with pressure in his face. He hit Ryan Grant on a 40-yard TD pass in the 3rd quarter on the same drive he took a vicious shot to the head. Charlie Casserly said it best, “Kirk Cousins is a frickin football player.”
However, Kirk wasn’t all good. He did a great job of exploiting Josh Doctson athleticism versus the Saints secondary in the first half, but barley looked his way in the second half. I am not sure if it was offensive play calling or the Saints adjusting accordingly, but there wasn’t duplication in what was working.
If it wasn’t all Kirk that made the passing game bad, it was the pass catchers. Let’s first start with the drops. I counted 5 drops including two on the Redskins only drive in overtime. In addition, according to Gruden, Crowder did not hear Cousins audible which led to the errant throw and intentional grounding and cost the Redskins a chance to win the game in regulation. It is becoming more and more clear that the Redskins will need to address the receiving core in the offseason.
Running Game: B+
The Redskins could not have asked for any more from Samaje Perine against the Saints. Perine carried the ball 23 times for 117 and a TD. This is also the first time a Redskins running back has run for 100 yards since Rob Kelley did it last year against the Packers. Perine can build off going into the game against the Giants.
The reason that this was not an ‘A’ is the play calling on the 3rd and 1 with 2:38 left in the game. Perine had been successful running the ball straight up the middle, but Gruden decided to call and off tackle run that lost them a yard and resulted in the Saints tying the game. The offensive line also decided to not man up on the most important down of the season and let Te’o through.
There was good and then there was complete slop by the defense.
The good: The pass rush was there for the first 57:00. Ryan Kerrigan was pushing the Saints rookie RT Ramczyk around and into Bree’s lap all day. D.J. Swearinger was again a factor in both the pass and run defense. They were also able to keep Kamara in check for a majority of the game and Bashaud Breeland was a big part of that.
The slope: I honestly don’t even know where to begin. The Redskins have now allowed 89 points on the season in the last 2:00 of the 2nd and 4th quarter. That is the most in the league. You cannot win that way. Montae Nicholson left the game which forced DeAngelo Hall into the starting role and he was completely over match. He showed how out of depth he was in a busted coverage that allow Brees to connect to Hill to cut the lead to 31-23.
The play calling the Manusky in the final 3:00 minutes and in overtime was extremely questionable as well. He went away from what was working and has his team playing a soft zone. History dictates that if you give Brees time and room he will make you pay. Brees did just that and carved the Redskins up. As improved as the Redskins are on defense, they are too hurt and undermanned to make the type of impact that was needed to make that jump to a playoff team.
Special Teams: D+
Kick/punt coverage were good up until the end of the game when they allowed a punt return to the Saints to the other side of the 50. Nick Rose came through when he needed to with his lone attempt and he will keep getting his chances. What this grade ultimately comes down to are the multiple pre-snap penalties that pushed them out of FG range at the end of the 4th quarter among others throughout the game. Dumb penalties lead to losses and the special teams attributed to the loss.
The Redskins will be fighting to get back on the winning track despite the playoff window all but being closed, but not locked. They will welcome in the New York Giants on Thanksgiving Day in primetime. This is the second year in a row the Redskins will be playing on Thanksgiving Day and will hope for a different result than last year. The Giants are coming off an 6-9 overtime win against the Chiefs to get their second win of the year.
Next Game: Giants (2-8) at Redskins (4-6) 8:25 PM (NBC)