Final

Redskins 40

(1-0, 1-0 away)

Saints 32

(0-1, 0-1 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, September 9, 2012

Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA 

1 2 3 4 T
WSH 10 10 10 1040
NO 7 7 3 1532

Top Performers

Passing: D. Brees (NO) - 339 YDS, 3 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: A. Morris (WSH) - 28 CAR, 96 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: L. Moore (NO) - 6 REC, 120 YDS, 1 TD

Robert Griffin III impresses in debut as Redskins upset Saints

Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- Robert Griffin III brought his Heisman Trophy swagger to New Orleans and made his NFL debut look like a Big Easy.

Showing a veteran's composure by scrambling only when necessary, the dynamic Redskins rookie quarterback tormented New Orleans' defense with 320 yards passing and two touchdowns, and Washington held on for 40-32 victory over the Saints on Sunday.

"I've won a high school state championship and a bowl game in college, but to play in the NFL, the pinnacle of it all, and win your first game against a Hall of Famer in Drew Brees, it's at the top," Griffin said while cradling the game ball he had just been given. "After the game, (Brees) told me he was proud of me. That's big for him to say after he just lost the game."

New Orleans hoped to open the season with a defiant show of force in the wake of the bounty scandal that overshadowed its offseason. The Saints also got a boost Friday when a three-member appeals panel reinstated defensive end Will Smith and linebacker Jon Vilma, who had been suspended for their roles in the Saints' alleged pay-for-pain bounty program.

Smith started, while Vilma, deemed unfit to play after offseason knee surgery, received a rousing ovation when he walked onto the field to lead the Saints' traditional pregame "Who-dat" chant.

Instead of riding that emotional high, the Saints spent much of the game trying to keep up with a Redskins offense powered by youth. Opening with several short, quick throws, Griffin completed his first eight passes. His seventh pass, released just before he was leveled on by blitzing safety Malcolm Jenkins, hit Pierre Garcon in stride over the middle for an 88-yard touchdown, tying the second-longest scoring pass by a quarterback making his NFL debut.

"It's great for any quarterback to get a couple of easy passes at the beginning of a game so you can get into a rhythm," Griffin said. "They were giving us those looks and I took advantage of them."

Griffin finished 19 of 26 with no interceptions and a passer rating of 139.9. He also scrambled for 42 yards.

"Robert did an unbelievable job to play the way that he did in his first game in the National Football League," said Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, marveling at "the poise that he played with and some of the throws that he made."

Rookie Alfred Morris rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Aldrick Robinson, a second-year pro making his NFL regular-season debut, had a 5-yard touchdown catch among four receptions for 52 yards.

Brees quickly dismissed the idea that disruptions from the bounty probe, which resulted in a season-long suspension for coach and offensive mastermind Sean Payton, was to blame for New Orleans shaky start.

"Not at all. It's the NFL. You better bring it every week," Brees said. "We knew the type of team they were. We knew the type of defense they were. They just came in and played better than we did, made fewer mistakes than we did, made more plays than we did."

In fact, Brees' expectations for what remains of the season hardly seemed diminished.

"We lost the first game of year last year and finished 13-3," Brees said. "So there's no doubt that we can do it and we have the mentality and the guys to do it."

The Saints pulled to 40-32 on Darren Sproles' 2-yard reception. But when Washington required a first down to all but put the game away, Griffin delivered a 22-yard strike to tight end Logan Paulsen.

After that, the Redskins ran the clock down to 22 seconds before the Saints got the ball back. Brees desperation pass was intercepted by Reed Doughty near the Redskins' goal line as time ran out.

That marked the second interception for Brees, who in 2011 completed a single-season record 71.2 percent of his passes, but managed to hit on only 46 percent (24 of 52) against Washington.

"That makes you angry," Brees said, raising his eyebrows and shaking his head as he talked about completing less than half of his passes. "We're better than that and we're going to be better than that."

Brees still finished with 339 yards and three touchdowns, including scoring passes of 33 yards to Lance Moore and 20 yards to Jimmy Graham. That might have been enough if not for Griffin, the former Baylor star selected second overall in the draft.

The Texas native, whose family is from New Orleans, had been to Saints games in the dome before and seemed unfazed by the noise.

In the second quarter, he danced out of the pocket to avoid pass rushers before rifling a pass across the field to tight end Fred Davis for a 26-yard gain. He punctuated another scramble with a 27-yard pass to Santana Moss, setting up Billy Cundiff's second field goal, which made it 20-7.

Griffin finished the first half with a perfect 158.3 passer rating, the first time a rookie had done so with 10 or more attempts.

Still, the Saints got back within one touchdown before halftime.

Marques Colston fumbled a reception inside the Redskins 5 and the ball squirted out of the end zone for a touchback. But Martez Wilson blocked Sav Rocca's punt and Courtney Roby scooped up the ball for a touchdown to make it 20-14.

Washington responded, aided by a pass interference call against safety Roman Harper on a long pass into the end zone. The Saints vigorously disputed the call with the replacement officials, but to no avail.

Morris scored easily from the 1.

The Saints might not have been pleased with the officials, but it was mostly their own mistakes that cost them -- penalized 12 times for 107 yards.

"Today the difference was penalties," said Saints interim coach Aaron Kromer. "It was third-and-long way too many times."

Game notes


The Saints started the game thin in the secondary when Jabari Greer (groin) was a pregame scratch. It got worse when Johnny Patrick hurt his right leg breaking up a pass in the second quarter. ... WR Devery Henderson left the game in the second half after taking a shot to the head. ... Saints LB Scott Shanle left the game with an unspecified leg injury. ... Garcon went out with a right foot injury. ... Redskins S Jordan Bernstine hurt his right knee on kick coverage. ... Washington's 40 points were its most since Shanahan took over in 2010.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
WSH
NO
1st Downs2224
Passing 1st downs
1317
Rushing 1st downs
72
1st downs from Penalties
25
3rd down efficiency
4-152-11
4th down efficiency
1-12-2
Total Plays7164
Total Yards459358
Yards per play6.55.6
Total Drives1312
Passing306326
Comp - Att
19-2624-52
Yards per pass
11.86.3
Interceptions thrown
02
Sacks - Yards Lost
2-142-13
Rushing15332
Rushing Attempts
4310
Yards per rush
3.63.2
Red Zone (Made-Att)3-51-2
Penalties12-12712-107
Turnovers03
Fumbles lost
01
Interceptions thrown
02
Defensive / Special Teams TDs01
Possession39:1020:50

Passing Leaders

WSHC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Griffin19/2632012.3202-14
NOC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Brees24/523396.5322-13

Rushing Leaders

WSHCARYDSAVGTDLG
Morris28963.4218
Griffin9424.7012
NOCARYDSAVGTDLG
Thomas4174.309
Ingram6152.506

Receiving Leaders

WSHRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Garcon410927.31884
Robinson45213.01296
NORECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Moore612020.013310
Graham68514.212310

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERWSHNO
wshFG07:05Billy Cundiff 37 Yd 30
noTD03:49Jimmy Graham 20 Yd Pass From Drew Brees (Garrett Hartley Kick) 37
wshTD03:28Pierre Garcon 88 Yd Pass From Robert Griffin (Billy Cundiff Kick) 107
SECOND QUARTERWSHNO
wshTD11:33Aldrick Robinson 5 Yd Pass From Robert Griffin (Billy Cundiff Kick) 177
wshFG06:08Billy Cundiff 41 Yd 207
noTD00:40Courtney Roby 4 Yd Return Of Blocked Punt (Garrett Hartley Kick) 2014
THIRD QUARTERWSHNO
wshTD11:24Alfred Morris 1 Yd Run (Billy Cundiff Kick) 2714
wshFG07:10Billy Cundiff 37 Yd 3014
noFG01:50Garrett Hartley 21 Yd 3017
FOURTH QUARTERWSHNO
wshFG10:59Billy Cundiff 45 Yd 3317
noTD06:19Lance Moore 33 Yd Pass From Drew Brees (Darren Sproles Run For Two-Point Conversion) 3325
wshTD03:18Alfred Morris 3 Yd Run (Billy Cundiff Kick) 4025
noTD02:25Darren Sproles 2 Yd Pass From Drew Brees (Garrett Hartley Kick) 4032

Research Notes

From Elias:
  [+]
NEXT LEVEL: Robert Griffin III began the game with six straight passes behind the line of scrimmage. On his seventh pass, Griffin threw the ball 18 yards downfield resulting in an 88-yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon. After the first drive Griffin averaged 11.5 air yards per attempt and only threw it behind the line once in 20 pass attempts. On those passes, he was 13-20 for 285 yards.
After the first drive Griffin averaged 11.5 air yards per attempt and only threw it behind the line once in 20 pass attempts. On those passes, he was 13-20 for 285 yards.
NEXT LEVEL: Twelve of Drew Brees' 28 incompletions were on passes either over or under thrown, including his fourth quarter interception when the Saints were within one score. Brees' 12 off-target passes were his most in a game since the start of 2009. The Saints are 2-8 since 2009 when Brees has at least eight off-target incompletions.
NEXT LEVEL: Robert Griffin III completed 8 of 9 pass attempts for 188 yards two touchdowns when the Saints sent five or more pass rushers. The Saints have sent five or more pass rushers at a higher rate than any other team since 2008, but during that time span no quarterback completed a higher percentage of passes against their pressure in a game than Griffin on Sunday.
  [+]

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