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Saints make history in wild OT victory over Redskins

After falling behind by 15 points late in the fourth quarter, the white-hot New Orleans Saints rallied for a pair of late touchdowns and an overtime field goal to pull off a thrilling 34-31 victory over the Washington Redskins in Week 11. Here's what we learned in Sunday's action:

  1. It's a shame this tightly contested contest had to have a loser, as both teams showed enviable resolve and resiliency for 60 minutes. Down by a pair of touchdowns and a two-point conversion with three minutes remaining, Drew Brees completed his final 11 passes on twin scoring drives to send the game to overtime. Following a Cameron Jordan sack and drops by Vernon Davis and Samaje Perine on the Redskins' opening possession of the extra period, Mark Ingram rumbled for 51 yards on two carries to set up Wil Lutz's game-winning kick. Riding the swell of a wild comeback victory en route to the first ever eight-game winning streak by a team that started the season 0-2, the Saints surf into Los Angeles to do battle with the 7-3 Rams next week.
  1. Beset by a plague of injuries that left All Pro cornerback Josh Normanshaking his head in disbelief, the Redskins have profited from a season-long unshakeable toughness that has allowed them to hang around the periphery of a strong NFC wild-card field. For 59 minutes, Kirk Cousins stood as the avatar of that firm backbone, authoring one of the finest performances of the 2017 season. Had Washington held on for the victory, the defining drive of the season would have featured Cousins shaking off a helmet-to-helmet blow, leading the team down the field and getting clobbered by the Saints blitz just as he unloaded a 40-yard scoring strike to Ryan Grant. From nailing pinpoint throws to converting crucial third and fourth downs and responding each time New Orleans threatened the lead, Cousins was spectacular until a shaky intentional grounding call and poor clock management upended his attempt at a game-winning field-goal drive to close out regulation time. No quarterback is doing more with less than the twice-franchised Cousins, who -- along with coach Jay Gruden -- has shown more than enough to earn a contract extension in the coming offseason.
  1. In addition to Ingram's overtime heroics, rookie playmaker Alvin Kamara came up big with a juggling touchdown catch and New Orleans' first two-point conversion of the season to tie the game at 31. Since the mid-October trade of Adrian Peterson, Ingram leads the NFL with eight touchdowns in 36 days. The veteran power back is averaging 120.7 yards per game over that span, with Kamara pitching in 112.8. The NFL's best complementary backfield is on pace for a staggering 3,082 yards from scrimmage this season. How impressive is that projection? The Browns' 1985 tandem of Ernest Byner and Kevin Mack is the only one in history with each back totaling at least 1,400 yards from scrimmage.
  1. It's hard to overstate the loss of Thompson, who was carted off with an air cast after suffering a lower leg injury and will need surgery to repair a fractured fibula. Sorely missed as Cousins' shotgun sidecar in the game's closing minutes, Thompson had been the NFL's most efficient third-down back, averaging 7.81 yards per touch with six touchdowns through 10 games. Although rookie Samaje Perine is finally showing signs of life as a leg-churning power runner, his failure to convert a crucial third-and-one in the game's waning moments is reflective of the backfield's season-long short-yardage woes.
  1. Already playing without safety/linebacker hybrid Kenny Vaccaro, the Saints lost Marshon Lattimore to an ankle injury early in the first quarter. The outstanding rookie cornerback returned for the start of the second half only to immediately aggravate the injury. Minus those two key elements, New Orleans defense reverted to its September woes, allowing 456 net yards. Is this a one-game aberration resulting from the injuries? Or is it an ominous sign that the defense's dramatic turnaround might be a byproduct of facing a string of shoddy offenses guided by benched or backup quarterbacks?
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