Redskins 16

(5-9, 2-5 away)

Saints 10

(9-5, 4-3 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, December 17, 2006

Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA 

1 2 3 4 T
WSH 10 3 0 316
NO 0 7 0 310

Top Performers

Passing: D. Brees (NO) - 207 YDS, 1 INT

Rushing: L. Betts (WSH) - 22 CAR, 119 YDS

Receiving: M. Colston (NO) - 7 REC, 84 YDS

Saints stumble, but Panthers loss puts N.O. in playoffs

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The New Orleans Saints returned to their lockers to find hats and T-shirts commemorating the franchise's first playoff berth since 2000.

Scouts Inc.'s take ...
The Redskins' defense did an outstanding job of disrupting the rhythm and flow of the Saints' offensive schemes. Defensive coordinator Greg Williams should get a tremendous amount of credit for using an assortment of blitz schemes that placed a lot of pressure on QB Drew Brees (above). The Redskins were very physical on the back end with their coverage schemes, which took away the explosive elements in the Saints' passing attack.

Redskins QB Jason Campbell relied on RB Ladell Betts (119 yards). The Redskins' offensive line controlled the line and didn't allow the Saints to disrupt the flow of their rushing attack. Campbell showed a lot of poise in the pocket by taking advantage of the soft areas in the Saints' zone defenses, especially down the middle.

Most players hastily stuffed them in bags as they dressed and left the stadium looking frustrated.

"I won't be celebrating at all tonight if that's what you're wondering," quarterback Drew Brees said after the Saints clinched the NFC South by default Sunday while losing 16-10 to the underdog Washington Redskins. "I have the shirt. I have the hat. They're in my bag. I'll go home and I'll put them in my closet."

New Orleans (9-5) still holds the No. 2 seed in the NFC, having beaten Dallas (9-5) last week. Clinching a first-round bye just got a little harder than expected, however.

"Our standards are higher than maybe what you would think," Brees said. "We won the division. That's great, but it came in a loss. We still have more things now that we want to accomplish."

After Atlanta's loss to the Cowboys on Saturday night, the Saints' only remaining pursuer in the NFC South, Carolina, was eliminated Sunday by a loss to Pittsburgh.

The Redskins (5-9), meanwhile, played more like a team looking to quiet harsh criticism than a unit already out of contention for the postseason, punishing the Saints' defense with a running attack that racked up 161 yards.

"I have never been prouder of a bunch of guys, with everything that has happened to us this year," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. "It was a fight. It was a pride game for us. ... They played as hard as they could play."

Coming off a career-high 171 yards a week earlier, Ladell Betts gained 119 on 22 carries, while blossoming quarterback Jason Campbell outplayed Brees.

"Ladell has made a real statement," Gibbs said. "He has led the team is what he has done."

Campbell threw for 204 yards and a 31-yard touchdown to Santana Moss, and Shaun Suisham kicked two field goals of 37 yards and another of 22 to keep New Orleans at arm's length.

Betts, filling in since Clinton Portis was lost for the season with a broken hand, also had 43 yards on three catches.

Elias Says
Reggie Bush
Reggie Bush caught five passes in the Saints' 16-10 loss to the Redskins, raising his total this season to 84 pass receptions, a new NFL record for a rookie running back. The previous mark was 83 by Earl Cooper of the 49ers in 1980. Cooper was converted to a tight end later in his career.

• For more Elias Says, Click here.

Brees, who has played his way to MVP contention by leading the league in yards passing, took too much time to get going, hurt by dropped passes at times. He also threw a costly interception in the fourth quarter and finished 21-of-38 for 207 yards. He was hurried on many plays, sacked twice and he did not throw a touchdown pass.

The Redskins' defense neutralized Reggie Bush, holding him to only 14 yards rushing and 19 yards receiving. Deuce McAllister scored the Saints' lone touchdown, but finished with only 48 yards rushing.

Despite playing poorly, New Orleans was in the game until the end. Bush's 15-yard gain on a screen gave the Saints a first down on the Washington 19 in the last two minutes. But the drive stalled when Brees' fourth-down pass for Terrance Copper in the end zone fell incomplete.

"I thought we were sluggish. I thought we were flat. ... I wish I had an explanation. I don't have one for you," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "Credit Washington. They did a good job. We looked sluggish. I thought we had a good week of practice. Evidently, I was wrong. It starts with me. I've got to do a better job getting these guys ready because we were half asleep."

Washington dominated early but led only 13-7 at halftime because of the same type of untimely mistakes that have plagued the Redskins all season.

On Washington's opening drive, Campbell fumbled a snap for no gain on a third-and-1 from the New Orleans 14 and Gibbs settled for a field goal. Later, two straight false starts squandered a second-and-2 at the New Orleans 11, leading to another field goal.

When the Redskins were error-free, they were ruthlessly efficient, going 80 yards in only four plays for their only touchdown and a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.

Cooley set up the score, turning a short pass into a 44-yard gain to the Saints' 31. On the next snap, Campbell went down the middle to Moss, who split defenders Mike McKenzie and Fred Thomas in the back of the end zone.

The Saints, who were 3-13 last season while displaced by Hurricane Katrina, have had a number of special moments with New Orleans fans this season. They had talked during the week of this game being another.

But playing the Redskins proved a humbling experience in what on the whole has been a glorious return for their rebuilding city.

Bush never hinted at a smile when asked about winning the division.

"I couldn't care less about the hat," Bush said. "I don't even want it."

Game notes

Cooley finished with 80 yards on four receptions. ... The Saints played without receiver Joe Horn (groin), who missed his second straight game, as well as starting safety Omar Stoutmire and tight end Mark Campbell, who both had minor knee injuries in a victory over Dallas a week ago. ... Betts has rushed for 549 yards in his last four games.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs1915
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays6064
Total Yards354270
Yards per play5.94.2
Total Drives1110
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-31-2
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders

Randle El12020.0020

Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

wshFG10:32Shaun Suisham 37 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 8 plays, 52 yds, 4:34
wshTD1:50Santana Moss, 31 yd pass from Jason Campbell (Shaun Suisham kick is good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 80 yds, 2:01
noTD9:20Deuce McAllister, 1 yd run (John Carney kick is good)
Drive info: 13 plays, 80 yds, 7:27
wshFG5:15Shaun Suisham 37 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 60 yds, 4:04
noFG13:31John Carney 41 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 56 yds, 5:16
wshFG4:19Shaun Suisham 22 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 10 plays, 61 yds, 6:09