Disappointed. Uncharacteristic. Out of sync.
Redskins quarterback Alex Smith repeated those words throughout his press conference following the team's 43-19 loss to the Saints Monday night in the Superdome.
"I think overall, I think our whole team played poorly and that's a reflection of myself," head coach Jay Gruden said. "I think everybody in that locker room hopefully will say they need to play better."
The offense struggled to find its footing out of the gate, the defense couldn't find an answer for Drew Brees and the Saints offense, and as the game began to spiral away, those early deficiencies became more noticeable.
"Got off to a slow start. Found ourselves in a hole quick, and don't know if we ever really got in a rhythm tonight," Smith said. "You know, there were times when we'd get things going and it'd seem like something would happen…I felt like it really kind of led to this. Certainly the game was one-sided for a big chunk of the game and even with that though, it felt like we had some opportunities and didn't get it done."
Smith completed 23-of-39 passes for 275 yards, fumbling and throwing an interception in the second half and unable to stretch the ball downfield, which became harder as the Redskins became one-dimensional. Chris Thompson led the team with 17 yards rushing on eight attempts, while Adrian Peterson had just six yards on four carries.
The defense had three costly penalties, all on third downs, which gave the Saints offense renewed opportunities during their first half drives, all of which led to touchdowns. They allowed 447 total yards, including 363 passing yards to Brees, who broke the all-time passing yards record.
"Just couldn't get off the field as a group man, couldn't get off the field. A couple things that got us, and just it came back to haunt us," cornerback Josh Norman said. "You look at those plays man and it's back breakers for any kind of defense. You've got to take that and understand that. We didn't have that today, myself included. The D-linemen, hats off to them."
The Redskins had a glimmer of hope after cornerback Fabian Moreau forced a fumble late in the second quarter and Smith ran for a touchdown, cutting the Saints lead to 26-13 at halftime. But New Orleans didn't hesitate to start the third quarter, using five plays to find the end zone and snuffing out Washington's hopes for a comeback.
"We have not been a very good team when we get behind for whatever reason," Gruden said. "We weren't able to make any plays to get ourselves back in the game. We had three penalties on defense on third down that kept drives alive. When you give Drew Brees extra snaps he's going to make you pay. Offensively we didn't protect very well, we didn't hit open receivers. Didn't call very good plays, so it was just a total team debauchery, and I'm the one in charge of it and I take responsibility for it."
The Redskins remain in first place in the division at 2-2, knowing they let an opportunity to create some separation in the division slip away. But the fact that they remain leaders in the NFC East offers some perspective – they're still in the thick of things and have an opportunity to swing back momentum against the Panthers at home next week.
It's a quick turnaround, but one the team would like after Monday's performance in New Orleans. The Redskins know they are better than what they showed, but must continue to prove that.
"The games we've won, we can see how good we can be when we're out there executing and doing things the right way," Thompson said. "We've just got to find a way to do that every single week because that's what the great teams do."