The New Orleans Saints hosted the Washington Redskins on “Monday Night Football” in Week 5 as Adrian Peterson revisited his teammates from a year ago.
Rather than some cold revenge, however, Peterson and his teammates found themselves on the losing end of a rather lopsided blowout.
Drew Brees put a cherry on top of his Hall of Fame career, and the Saints ran away with the game, 43-19, much to the delight of their fans.
These were the biggest winners and losers from the action.
Winner: Drew Brees somehow keeps getting better
Drew Brees passed Peyton Manning to move into the top spot on the NFL’s all-time passing yards list, and he did it in dramatic style. Connecting with rookie Tre-Quan Smith on a 62-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, he brought the house down with a legendary moment in league history that his peers lauded on social media.
Manning couldn’t be there to congratulate Brees in person, but knowing his old rival was likely to break his record he recorded a congratulatory message that included some classic Manning humor.
If that’s all Brees did on Monday, it would have been enough to earn him a spot as a winner in this game. But that’s not how his night ended.
Heading into halftime with 250 yards and two touchdowns on 17-of-20 passing, Brees finished with 363 yards on 26-of-29 passing with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Loser: What the heck happened to Josh Norman?
Just a couple years back, Josh Norman was one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Washington didn’t sweat his league-leading price tag when the Carolina Panthers rescinded the franchise tag, and for one year he was very good playing for his new team.
The Washington cornerback not only played poorly against the Saints, but he found himself benched in the second half. The man who replaced him promptly gave up the second touchdown to rookie Tre’Quan Smith.
My, how quickly things change.
Winner: Justin Hardee’s first career INT was incredible
Coming into Monday night’s game, second-year cornerback Justin Hardee had never intercepted a pass at the NFL level in 18 career games.
The Redskins, desperate to try and make a game of it in the third quarter down by 20 points, went for it on 4th-and-2 from New Orleans’ 32-yard line. Hardee stepped in front of a poor Alex Smith pass and rumbled 77 yards to the Washington four-yard-line.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) October 9, 2018
Two plays later, the Saints were up by 27 points after Taysom Hill ran in a touchdown from one yard out.
Loser: Washington secondary went AWOL
Brees might as well have been playing 7-on-7 for all the good Washington’s secondary did trying to guard New Orleans’ receivers downfield. It really was embarrassing how often Brees had guys wide open.
All told, eight different players caught 25 passes for 362 yards (not counting Brees’ one catch on his own throw), laying waste to what had previously been the league’s best pass defense. A pass defense that will most certainly NOT be the best in the league heading into Week 6.
Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky also deserves plenty of criticism. He had two weeks to dial up a solid game plan, due to Washington’s Week 4 bye. He did not.
Winner: Tre’Quan Smith busts out
The Saints loved what they saw from this third-round rookie out of UCF over the summer. However, through four games he had only one catch for 18 yards on four targets.
Needless to say, he wasn’t on anyone’s fantasy radar heading into Week 5. After what he did on Monday night, however, don’t be surprised to see some folks stashing this young playmaker for later use. He busted out in a big way, catching three passes for 111 yards and three touchdowns.
As was previously mentioned, Smith was the recipient of Brees’ record-breaking throw in the second quarter, which went for 62 yards. He later caught a 35-yard touchdown as well. As if this team needed another big-play threat.
Loser: Alex Smith was a mess
The disparity between Brees and his counterpart, Alex Smith, was pretty stunning. Whereas Brees almost couldn’t miss, Smith was all over the place on Monday night.
Just as it was crazy to see the NFL’s leading pass defense part like the Red Sea, seeing Smith fail so miserably against New Orleans’ previously awful pass defense was surprising.
On the night, Smith completed just 23-of-39 passes for 275 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He also lost a fumble on a night he’d probably rather forget.
Winner: It was like Mark Ingram never left
Everyone wondered what the New Orleans offense would look like with Mark Ingram coming back after he missed the first four games of the season due to a PED suspension.
We got an answer to that question very early on. It was like he never left. Sean Payton featured the veteran back heavily on the Saints’ first offensive possession, and he immediately responded with his first touchdown of the season.
Just like we saw a year go, Ingram split time with Alvin Kamara. He was utilized plenty and actually was featured a lot more than his teammate on this night, finishing with 73 total yards and two touchdowns, touching the ball 18 times.
Loser: Alvin Kamara fantasy owners
Through four weeks, no player in the NFL had more fantasy points than Alvin Kamara in PPR standard leagues. The second-year star was utilized heavily in each of the Saints’ previous four games, and he had gaudy numbers in every one.
Heading into Monday night’s game, Kamara had racked up 661 total yards and six touchdowns on 91 touches.
Against Washington, Kamara touched the ball just nine times for 39 yards, and he did not score a touchdown. Somehow we’re betting more than a few fantasy matchups were won and lost due to this outcome.
Winner: New Orleans defense finally showed up
After watching the Saints discover a defense for the first time in years last season, the prevailing though around league circles was that this year’s club could even improve on that side of the ball. The Saints added talent, both through the draft and in free agency, to make that happen after all.
The first four games were not encouraging. The Saints gave up 390 yards and over 30 points per game, the latter figure representing the third-worst total in the league.
On Monday night, New Orleans was much tighter on the defensive side of the ball than we’ve seen all year. The Saints gave up 283 yards and just 19 points. Better still, they forced two turnovers on consecutive drives in the second half, which led to 10 points for the offense shortly afterward.
Loser: Refs called a penalty after Saints celebrated Brees’ record-breaking throw
This was pretty ridiculous. You can hardly blame the Saints for going bonkers after Brees set the all-time passing record, on a long touchdown, no less.
You’d think the officials on the field would have made allowances for that. But they did not. A 15-yard penalty was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, which was enforced on the impending kickoff.
It’s just like the NFL to ruin such a perfect moment like that. Brees’ kids and wife were on the sideline waiting for him. A man in white gloves took the ball to the Hall of Fame.
But sure, throw a penalty flag. Well done, guys.