Redskins 40, Saints 32. RGIII shines in debut.
Did anyone really believe the effects of Bounty Gate would just go away, even after the suspensions were lifted? Sean Peyton, the real heart and soul of the Saints, remains suspended for the season.
Don't let the final score persuade you into believing the Saints are still a good team. This was not the team of a year ago. Drew Brees certainly didn't live up to his 100 million dollar contract, despite what the stats show. In fact, the game wasn't close at all. Brees' experience kept them in the game, but a lackluster effort by the Saints' defense, including a weak secondary, couldn't close the gap created by a rejuvenated, youthful Redskins team.
The Saints quarterback was 24-52 for 339 yards; 3 touchdowns and two interceptions. Not bad for a days work, except 33 of those 339 yards came from a desperation throw on a fourth and ten in the final quarter.
When asked if bounty gate had anything to do the final score, he replied, "Not at all. It's the NFL. You better bring it every week," Brees said. "We knew the type of team they were. We knew the type of defense they were. They just came in and played better than we did, made fewer mistakes than we did, made more plays than we did."
The fact is Washington won the battle on both sides of the ball, intercepting Brees twice, while sacking him for the same. If anybody finds New Orleans' running game please place in nearest mailbox, postage will be paid. Not many games are won when all you can muster is a measly 32 yards on the ground. There won't be many playoff appearances, either. History teaches us that when the Saints struggle running the ball, Brees' numbers go up, as do his interceptions.
Robert Griffin III was spectacular for his NFL debut, finishing with a quarterback rating of 139.9. No, the Saints weren't at their best, but that doesn't take away from the fact Griffin will be at the top of the list for Rookie of the Year. Griffin, who was 19-26 for 320 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions, showed why the Redskins may have forfeited their future. Showing the poise and precision of a seasoned veteran, the rookie consistently made the right reads, wisely choosing to scan the field for the open receiver and not just tuck the ball and run with it. You can't teach that skill; if you could Michael Vick could have a Super Bowl by now. When Griffin did run, it was for 42 yards.
It was playing against Brees that seemed to seemed have the biggest effect on the star struck rookie:
"... but to play in the NFL, the pinnacle of it all, and win your first game against a Hall of Famer in Drew Brees, it's at the top," Griffin said while cradling the game ball he had just been given. "After the game, (Brees) told me he was proud of me. That's big for him to say after he just lost the game."
Head coach Mike Shanahan knows how to get the most out of his quarterbacks; he makes the most of their strengths, while hiding their weaknesses. He solved John Elway's problems by giving him a running back in Terrell Davis. It seems he still believes the running game opens up the passing gameÂ—enter rookie running back Alfred Morris, who was a very efficient 28-96 for two touchdowns.
This victory gives the Redskins a 16-8 record over the Saints since 1967: 4 out 7 since 2001. The Saints lost their first game last season, prompting Brees' assurance that this setback is only temporary.
"We lost the first game of year last year and finished 13-3," Brees said. "So there's no doubt that we can do it and we have the mentality and the guys to do it."
A year ago it was possible to see that scenario playing out for the Saints. After today the Super Bowl might as well be played on the moon, because that's how far it will be after 16 games.