Saints squander late lead, fall to 1-1

The New Orleans Saints carried a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter on Sunday, but couldn't close the deal against the Washington Redskins on Sunday. Get the recap right here, including Saints inactives and details on head coach Sean Payton's contract extension.

Washington WR Santana Moss caught a 67-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter to lift the Redskins past the New Orleans Saints, 29-24, on Sunday at FedEx Field.

The Saints (1-1), with a defense decimated by injuries, were in the entire contest and led by nine points entering the fourth quarter before the Redskins (1-1) rallied in the fourth quarter for 14 points.

The Redskins grabbed the lead late in the fourth quarter with their biggest play of the game, as QB Jason Campbell and Moss hooked up for a 67-yard touchdown reception with 3:29 left in the game, just a possession after the Redskins cut the Saints lead to 24-22. Campbell avoided pressure up the middle to step up and deliver a strike to Moss, who overwhelmed rookie CB Tracy Porter with his speed and caught the football in open territory.

The Saints attempted one final comeback after falling behind, but Saints QB Drew Brees' pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage at midfield and rookie DB Chris Horton plucked it out of the air for his second interception of the game with 2:59 left in the contest.

Moss finished with 156 yards receiving and a touchdown. Campbell threw for more than 300 yards for the first time this season.

The Saints had no running game on Sunday, as the Redskins limited them to less than 55 yards rushing. The Saints even turned to veteran Deuce McAllister for the first time this season, and he rushed for 10 yards on two carries. But he never returned after his third-quarter entrance into the game.

Brees threw for 216 yards and one touchdown, along with two interceptions. With top receiver Marques Colston, the Saints seemed disjointed on offense.

But that didn't mean they didn't have a chance to win.

Saints RB Reggie Bush — who had just 28 yards rushing — gave the Saints a seemingly unassailable lead at the end of the third quarter with a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Bush fielded the punt at the Saints 45-yard line and immediately cut to his left, found a wall of Saints to run behind and turned the corner. From there, it was a footrace and no Redskins defender had a good angle to stop him. Bush incurred a 15-yard penalty for taunting when he pointed his finger at a defender as he crossed the goal line, but the score counted, giving the Saints an important 9-point lead at the end of third quarter.

Last week Bush caught a Drew Brees pass and scampered 45 yards for what turned out to be the game-winning score in a 24-21 win over Tampa Bay.

The Saints started the third quarter with their best drive of the game offensively, which ended with second-year pro Robert Meachem's first NFL catch and touchdown.

Meachem, who spent all season injured and was inactive last week, roped in a 19-yard touchdown pass from Brees.

The Redskins answered quickly, turning their first drive of the second half into a touchdown. RB Clinton Portis did the honors, a 9-yard touchdown run that cut New Orleans's lead to 17-15. The Redskins attempted a 2-point conversion to tie the game, but it failed after Saints MLV Jonathan Vilma intercepted Redskins QB Jason Campbell's pass.

Portis later scored in the fourth quarter, giving him his first two-touchdown game this season.

Despite being undermanned due to at least five players being inactive — including three current starters — the Saints defense did just enough in the first half to keep the Redskins out of the end zone.

Washington produced five offensive drives in the first half and all five ended with Shaun Suisham field goal attempts, three of which he made.

That allowed the Saints to take a lead into the locker room at halftime. They took advantage of Washington's only first-half turnover — an Antwaan Randle-El fumble forced by Josh Bullocks — and scored on Pierre Thomas' 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. That score gave the Saints a 7-6 leads with 8:45 left.

After Washington regained the lead, 9-7, Brees drove the Saints downfield in the final minute to set up Martin Gramatica's 49-yard field goal at the end of the first half.

The Saints had plenty of injuries coming into the game, with CB Mike McKenzie, WR Marques Colston, CB Randall Gay, RB Aaron Stecker, SS Roman Harper, LB Scott Fujita, DT Antwan Lake and OL Jermon Bushrod were inactive. McKenzie practiced all week but was inactive for the second straight week, despite injuries to Gay and Harper.

So 14-year veteran Aaron Glenn took Gay's place in the secondary, while SS Josh Bullocks filled in for Harper. Rookie LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who was signed last week from the practice squad, started for Fujita. Also, C Matt Lehr was released and TE Buck Ortega was signed from the practice squad.

PAYTON'S CONTRACT: New Orleans head coach Sean Payton has a new contract that will keep him in New Orleans through 2012, multiple news outlets reported before Sunday's game.

The deal reportedly makes Payton one of the league's five highest-paid head coaches.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, former Saints head coach Jim Haslett signed a five-year, $15 million deal after his first two years on the job.


Matthew Postins is the editor and publisher of saintsinsider.com. He can be heard every Friday between 3-4 p.m. on WNSP Sports Radio 105.5 FM in Mobile, Ala.


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