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In the span of six minutes, the Redskins' season went from hope to despair in New Orleans

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USA TODAY Sports

In the span of six minutes, the Redskins' season went from hope to despair in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS—The Redskins’ game against the Saints, and perhaps their whole season went from hope to despair in the span of just six minutes.

When Kirk Cousins threw a touchdown pass to tight end Jeremy Sprinkle, the Redskins were up by 15 points with 5:58 to play. Some Saints fans departed the Mercedes Benz Superdome, figuring that their team’s seven-game winning streak was about to end.

But Drew Brees and the Saints weren’t going anywhere. The Redskins defense was loose, to say the least, as the Hall of Fame quarterback completed seven of seven passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. The drive took just 3:05 and it seemed that the Saints barely broke a sweat.

RELATED: 5 TAKEAWAYS FROM THE PAINFUL LOSS IN NEW ORLEANS

“We gave up too quick a score on the initial one,” said Jay Gruden.

But the Redskins were still in control of the game. After two Samaje Perine runs, the Saints were out of timeouts and Washington had third and one with 2:38 to go. The lined up and then called a timeout.

“We actually lined up with a tight end on the wrong side so we had to get that fixed up,” said Gruden.

It’s week 11 and the tight end can’t line up on the right side of the formation on a critical play. Perhaps they should be beyond these issues by now?

Even with the tight end properly aligned, the play had no chance as Perine tried to go off the right side and he was hit for a one-yard loss. The clock wound down to the two-minute warning and Tress Way boomed a 54-yard punt that was fair caught at the Saints 13. The Redskins had to defend 87 yards of turf for 1:53. They couldn’t do it.

Brees again took on the role of the hot knife and the Redskins still were the butter. Four for four passing, each throw gaining 17 yards or more. The touchdown pass to Alvin Kamara and the two-point conversion tied the game at 31-31.

When asked what happened, linebacker and former Saint Junior Galette said that while he respects Brees and the Saints, this one was on the defense.

“In two minute, he’s one of the best I’ve seen but still we’ve got to bow down and tighten our defense up,” he said.

“They’re a really good team but I honestly feel that we beat ourselves today,” said Galette. “It’s a really good team, one of the better teams we’ve played all year but if you watch that game you know we beat ourselves.”

Safety D.J. Swearinger echoed Galette’s viewpoint.

RELATED: THIS REDSKINS' LOSS LITERALLY DEFIED THE ODDS

“They came back and beat us fair and square,” he said. “But at the end of the day we didn’t do our job. We beat ourselves for sure. We for sure beat ourselves.”

In case there was any doubt about it, Swearinger then said that they beat themselves twice more in the next sentences.

The good part of the Saints drive was that it consumed just 48 seconds, leaving the Redskins with 1:05 to try to get a winning field goal. Cousins threw three passes to Jamison Crowder and all of a sudden the Redskins were on the New Orleans 34, close enough to at least attempt a game winning field goal.

But then it fell apart. With 31 seconds left, Cousins took a snap from behind center and immediately threw the ball out of bounds on the right side with no receiver nearby. The officials conferred and dropped a flag for intentional grounding.

The flag never should have been thrown because the rule says that the quarterback must be in imminent danger of getting sacked. Cousins was not. But the way the play went down it certainly gave referee Walt Coleman the opportunity to make a mistake, and you never want to do that.

The explanations for the throw offered by the coach and quarterback were somewhat confusing and didn’t really line up. But for the record, here is the gist of what each of them said:

Gruden: “I was trying to get his [Cousins’] attention and hand signal a bubble screen out there. If we get it out there and get it out of bounds, we get another play called. Unfortunately, Jamison didn’t get it.”

Cousins: “I looked over to the sideline out of the corner of my eye and I just saw the coaches saying, ‘throw it’. They wanted potentially an audible, get to an actual pass play. I thought they were saying throw it to Jamison, in the general area of Jamison, there was an eligible in the area and there’s no penalty.”

There is little point into going into the minutia of what they said. There seems to have been some confusion in the loud Superdome and perhaps Gruden will clarify it in his Monday press conference.

Again, it should not have been grounding but you can’t give them a chance to make that mistake.

And the Redskins still had 18 seconds (after a 10-second runoff that perhaps should not have happened) to try to get back the 10 yards and maybe a few more to get a shot at a field goal. But he was sacked (the Saints’ first sack of the day) and he fumbled. Morgan Moses recovered but the clock ran out.

Although they had a 10-minute overtime, it felt like it was over and it soon was. The Redskins went three and out. Brees didn’t even have to drop back to pass as runs of 20 and 31 yards set up the field goal that applied the final gut punch.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Some unexpected players lead the Redskins to a sloppy but much-needed win

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USA TODAY Sports

Some unexpected players lead the Redskins to a sloppy but much-needed win

LANDOVER, MD—Here are my observations during the Redskins’ much-needed 20-15 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

—The Redskins’ two-week issue with slow starts was cured in a hurry. On the third play from scrimmage, Anthony Lanier busted up the middle and smacked Blaine Gabbert, knocking the ball loose. After Preston Smith recovered and returned it to the six, it was Kirk Cousins to Jamison Crowder for five yards and a touchdown. It was the start that a slumping team needed.

—The last two sacks stymied a good Cardinals drive in the red zone, making them settle for a field goal.

—The Redskins moved down the field and then they scored on one of the prettiest plays you’ll see. Faking a handoff up the middle and then a jet sweep gave a nice phalanx of blockers a chance to develop on the right side. Cousins flipped to Kapri Bibbs, who was in the clear nearly all the way to the end zone. Great play design and solid execution on that one.

—The Redskins tried to challenge what was called an incomplete pass. It looked like Preston Smith had knocked the ball out before Gabbert’s arms went forward.

—But the play stood as called and a Cardinals field goal made the score 14-6.

—At halftime, the Redskins had run 15 plays, 77 yards of offense, and 6:34 of possession time. But they held a 14-9 lead.  

—The Redskins special teams found a new gaffe to commit, letting a pooch kickoff bounce and the Cardinals recovered. A field goal cut the Washington lead to 14-12.

— It’s funny how when the running game gets going even a little bit, the passing game starts to roll. On a drive from their own five, Samaje Perine got a couple of four-yard runs that seemed to unleash an offense that had been struggling. Cousins went to Crowder, Perine, and then Crowder again for big gains to the Arizona 10. But they couldn’t punch it in and had to settle for a 24-yard Dustin Hopkins field goal to make it 17-12.

—The Redskins got a little too fancy. They got a first down at the 32 and they tried an end around to Josh Doctson. Wrong guy, wrong play, whatever. He lost 14 yards and that killed the drive. After the punt the Redskins punted the ball to Arizona, giving the Cardinals a chance to take the lead with a touchdown.

—The Cardinals kicked a 54-yard field goal but yet another special teams gaffe—a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on AJ Francis for leverage—gave Arizona a first down. Fortunately, the defense held again and the Cardinals ended up with the same result, a field goal to make it 17-15.

—The Redskins couldn’t wrap it up after getting great field position after a punt at their 45. They did get a couple of first downs and Dustin Hopkins kicked a field goal to make it a five-point game. But they left Arizona with 4:30 to get a TD to take the win.

—After an exchange of punts it took just two plays for the Cardinals to get into Washington territory. But on third and five, Gabbert lost the handle on the ball and the play went for a loss of 18 yards. The Cardinals had to punt, giving the Redskins a chance to seal up the game on offense. But it went three and out, giving the Cardinals another chance.

—Fortunately, key pass break-ups by Kendall Fuller, Zach Vigil and DJ Swearinger FINALLY ended this one, with the Burgundy and Gold on the right side of things for the first time in three weeks.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Redskins Inactives: Trent Williams a late scratch vs. Cardinals

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Redskins Inactives: Trent Williams a late scratch vs. Cardinals

LANDOVER, MD—The weekly question of whether Trent Williams will be able to play today against the Cardinals has been answered.

The Pro Bowl left tackle is inactive and will not play against Arizona. Ty Nsekhe will start in his place.

The following players are inactive for the Redskins:

RELATED: REDSKINS VS. CARDINALS GAME PREVIEW

  • S Montae Nicholson
  • ILB Zach Brown
  • C Demetrius Rhaney
  • OL Kyle Kalis
  • OT Trent Williams
  • DL Terrell McClain
  • WR Robert Davis

Williams will miss his fourth game of the season with a right knee injury that will require surgery in the offseason. Nsekhe is an adequate replacement but he will be up against Chandler Jones, who has 14 sacks on the season, much of the day.

Brown is the key subtraction from the defensive lineup. The NFL’s leader in combined tackles has dealt with injuries all season but an illness plus injuries to his toe, Achilles, and hip kept him out of practice all week. It was announced that he would be out for Sunday when the final injury report was released on Friday.

Nicholson will miss his fourth straight game after sustaining a concussion. That injury and shoulder problems have sent what appeared to be a promising rookie season off track.