Despite what many may think, the Saints have no easy games left on their schedule. If yesterday's 33-30 overtime win over the Redskins wasn't to your liking, take a moment to consider the facts. The Washington Redskins, despite their 3-8 record coming into Sunday, had a top-10 defense and was coming off two near-upsets against Dallas and Philadelphia. Add in that their old defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, was coming into town with an unblemished record, and you best believe that Washington squad was ready to play yesterday.
And this is how it's going to be from here on out. The Saints play three division opponents in their last four weeks, with the Dallas Cowboys coming to the Dome the day after Christmas. Despite their middling records, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Carolina are not likely to just lay down and let the Black and Gold stomp on them, especially if any of those rivals could play spoiler to a perfect Saints' season. For now, take heart in the fact that the Saints still have the best offense in football and still have a quarterback in Drew Brees that can lead this team to victory under any circumstances.
Drew Brees - For a guy who really didn't look comfortable all day, he sure put up some comfortable stats. 35-of-49 for 419 yards and two touchdowns plus an interception that Robert Meachem turned into a touchdown. Drew Brees: MVP? Yea, that sounds about right.
Robert Meachem - If you haven't seen the play where Meachem absolutely robbed Washington's Kareem Moore and scored a touchdown, do so. Multiple times. If that's not impressive enough, Meachem had eight catches for 142 yards and, including the 44-yard fumble return, had 186 total yards for the Saints. I've said it before and will again: the Saints have the best receiving corps in the league.
Garrett Hartley - Aside from that pretty-much-impossible 58-yard attempt at the end of regulation, Hartley was perfect on the day. He was also able to do something the Redskins' kicker couldn't: kick a field goal inside the 25-yard line.
Sean Payton - With his team playing from behind all game long (to wit, the Saints never led until Hartley's OT kick), Payton called a masterful game. His game planning exposed Washington's Laron Landry's propensity to bite on double moves and it led to two Saints touchdowns. Payton also deserves credit for calling that timeout in overtime to give the replay officials extra time to look at Mike Sellers' fumble, giving the Saints the ball and the game.
Jason Campbell - We don't usually give hot gumbo to an opposing player but you gotta give it to the Mississippi boy with his 367 yards and three touchdowns. Now, Gregg Williams, any chance you can explain how and otherwise middle-of-the-road quarterback looked so good against your defense?
Saints Defense - Whether they had a hangover from that Monday night win or they didn't respect the Skins' offense (not that you can blame them, Washington has scored more than 25 points just once all season), but the Saints defense did not show up for most of today. Luckily, the Skins shot themselves in the foot and the replay officials caught that OT fumble or that perfect season would have been history.
Devin Thomas - The Washington receiver has barely done anything in his two years in the league, had just 187 yards and one touchdown all season coming into this game and then he decides to put up 100 yards and two touchdowns on the Saints. What's up with that?
Room Temperature Abita:
Usama Young - Missed a few assignments that led to Skins' touchdowns but recovered a fumble played better than the rest of the Saints secondary. Drink up, Young!
Jonathan Vilma - He was a ghost all game long as the Skins drove up and down the field until when it mattered most. His fourth-quarter interception denied Washington any chance at kicking a field goal to win the game in regulation. Expect a much better performance from Vilma and the Saints defense next week.
Pierre Thomas - With Washington stuffing the run all game, the Saints began to substitute screen passes for run plays. So while Thomas' 18 rushing yards are unimpressive, his 64 receiving yards helped the Saints sustain a good rhythm throughout the game.
Atlanta Falcons - Even if the Saints had lost, Atlanta's loss to Philly meant that New Orleans would clinch the NFC South. Also kinda of feel sorry for the Dirty Birds seeing as how the Saints are gonna lay down the hammer in Atlanta next week.