Here's five takeaways from the Washington Redskins' Week 11 game against the New Orelans Saints that took place at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
1. Redskins fail to secure a big victory over the Saints despite leading by two scores midway through the fourth quarter.
With only six minutes left on the clock in regulation, Washington appeared poised to claim another massive victory on the road, this time against a New Orleans squad that was riding high on a seven-game winning streak.
After the Saints pulled back within eight on a Will Lutz field goal, the Redskins marched down the field in just six plays to tally a seven-yard touchdown toss to Jeremy Sprinkle with a little more than six minutes remaining.
With Nick Rose's made extra point, the Redskins were up 15 points.
But as Sunday would go, that lead wasn't enough to get the Redskins back to .500 on the season. Between Saints quarterback Drew Brees completing his final 11 passes of, two of which went for touchdowns, and the Redskins unable to convert on a crucial 3rd-and-1 run, the game would ultimately go to overtime.
And even though the Redskins got the first crack to end the game, it was the Saints who came out on top with a chip shot field goal for a 34-31 victory.
"We gave up too quick of a touchdown on the initial one," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, referring to the Saints' first touchdown of the fourth quarter. "They scored, so we got the ball back. We had a 3rd-and-1 and did not convert, unfortunately. We punted it right back to them and they went 90 (yards), I think it was. Hats off to them for making the plays. Unfortunately, we didn't get it done."
While Brees is a future first ballot Hall of Famer, the Redskins' defense felt it was miscues on their end that cost them the game.
"I tip my hat to Brees," said Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger. "That is what he does. That is what great quarterbacks do, but at the end of the day we got to make plays. It wasn't (like) he was dicing us up. It was just guys, whether it is here or there, guys didn't take their man. Whatever it is, it happened. We did not execute.
"They came back and beat us fair and square. At the end of the day, we didn't do our job. We beat ourselves for sure. For sure beat ourselves…We for sure beat ourselves. Like I said, tip my hat to the whole organization over there and Drew Brees and the whole offense, but we definitely beat ourselves."
2. Miscommunication on that key 3rd-and-1 run forced Washington to punt before New Orleans raced down the field for another touchdown.
Just before the two-minute warning, the Redskins had an opportunity to close the door on the Saints' comeback attempt.
Up by eight, the Redskins called on Samaje Perine to get Washington to the finish line. On first and second downs, the rookie running back picked up nine yards, setting up 3rd-and-1 at the 34-yard line.
The Saints had already burned all of their timeouts, so a new set of downs would basically seal the game for the Redskins. But as Perine took the handoff and tried to cut it to his right side, he was stuffed for a one-yard loss.
Tress Way would come on to punt before Brees led a four-play, 87-yard touchdown drive along with a successful two-point conversion.
"It was just miscommunication," Perine said. "We had it blocked up and I think we missed one or two guys. It was just a miscommunication, but that really changed the game for us."
"For us, they call a play, you've got to block it the best way possible," added tackle Morgan Moses. "So for us it's just to look back at the mistakes we've made over the past few weeks and just move forward. We've got a short week, so we can't really dawn on it too long."
3. Samaje Perine pieces together the best performance of his rookie season to date.
After weeks of struggling to get the ground game going, the Redskins got traction Sunday afternoon on the turf of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, as Samaje Perine lead the way with 117 rushing yards on 23 carries along with his first rushing score.
"Samaje ran hard," Gruden said. "I was impressed with Samaje's running style. I figure with that type of game and the type of player that he is, he will get better with more carries. And, that is what he showed today."
Entering Sunday's game, Perine was averaging just 3.2 yards per carry. His longest run through the first nine games was also just 12 yards.
But against a Saints defense that had been stout against the run for most of the season, the Oklahoma product averaged more than five yards per carry, highlighted by carries of 30 and 17 yards.
Perine placed the credit for his success on the offensive line.
"They played a great game," Perine said. "I couldn't ask for anything more. I feel like I left a couple yards out there, but overall I feel like we played great as a unit."
4. Chris Thompson suffered a fractured fibula in the third quarter.
Pacing the Redskins in both rushing and receiving through the first nine games of the season, Chris Thompson had become Washington's most consistent weapon on the offensive side of the football.
That continued early in Sunday's game, as the running back caught a 16-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. That was likely his last touchdown of the season, though, as he would suffer a fractured fibula in the third quarter on a run by quarterback Trent Williams.
On a 3rd-and-4 scramble by the quarterback, Cousins would avoid a tackle attempt by Saints defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins. But as Rankins went flying away from Cousins, he landed on the back of Thompson's leg.
The running back would stay down before having an air cast placed on his leg. He would be carted away with all of his teammates coming to his side to console him.
"You might not even be able to replace a guy like that, the things he brings to the offense and just special teams and just the guy he is in the locker room," Moses said. "It's hard to lose a guy like that."
As Moses said, the loss of Thompson is huge for a Redskins offense that need his presence out of the backfield for a variety of reasons.
"He's one of the most important players on our offense, especially when you get the ball back and you need him for pass protection and routes coming out of the backfield there on the end," Gruden said. "We just obviously have to make do with what we have and we will."
Swearinger said he wanted to win the game for Thompson, so to not do so was tough on him.
"That hurts me more than anything that we lost for Chris," Swearinger said. "I told him that we'll bring this back home for him and I didn't keep my word, so if anything bothers me, that bothers me the most. We had one of our best guys go down and we didn't get the 'W' for him. That's tough, that's tough. I've got my prayers for CT. We're riding for CT and that's what we're going to continue to do."
5. The players now feel the pressure, but they must take it one game at a time for the final six weeks.
It's a loss that stings, but one the Redskins can't dwell on for days. Washington has another game in just four games, as they host the New York Giants seeking a first win in divisional play this season.
"We just have to bounce back," Gruden said. "We have a short week. It doesn't get any easier. The Giants are coming to town on Thanksgiving. We have no choice but to keep grinding and keep battling."
Cousins said that whether the Redskins had a flawless record or not doesn't change the level of pressure the team faces. At 4-6, though, wins need to be strung together if the Redskins want to make the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
"There was pressure Week 1 when we were 0-0. There's pressure if you are 8-0. You just go one week at a time," Cousins said. "It's so cliché, but it's the best way to operate. Whether we are 4-6, 6-4, 10-0, I would go into the next game with the exact same approach and mental make-up."
Galette added that the team needs to dig deep now to see what it's really made of down the stretch.
"Are we really a team that wants to be in, obviously, the Wild Card race right now or not? It is what it is. I'm actually happy we have a quick turnaround, because this one hurts," Galette said. "It's going to sting for a while. To get a good win Thursday, I think it's a divisional game, it feels like a one and a half game if we beat a divisional opponent."