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Redskins vs. Saints: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Redskins vs. Saints: The good, the bad, and the ugly

NEW ORLEANS — The Redskins enter Week 5 atop the NFC East leaderboard, and a win over the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football can solidify their top spot in the division for at least another week.

But a win against the Saints won't be easy. Drew Brees will be looking to set records against the Redskins.

He needs just 201 yards to become the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards and needs four touchdown passes to reach No. 500.

The Redskins came up short in their quest to beat the Saints in 2017, dropping a 34-31 overtime loss despite leading by 15 points. But this is a different Redskins team. The defense is drastically improved.

Will they get it done in Week 5?

Here is a quarter-by-quarter account of the good, the bad, and the ugly that transpired during tonight’s Redskins-Saints game. 

Redskins vs. Saints: Good, Bad, & Ugly

FIRST QUARTER:

GOOD: The Redskins’ second drive was much better than their first. It got going with a pass to Davis for a first down and then Maurice Harris got his first catch of the season, a play action pass that was good for six yards. After Peterson got the first down with a four-yard run, he checked down to Peterson who turned the play into a 12-yard gain.

A sack nearly stalled the drive, but Smith was able to buy time and find Chris Thompson for a gain of 17 to the Saints 30. Smith converted another third down with a bullet to Paul Richardson down to the five.

But a third-down sack ended the drive and the Redskins had to settle for a field goal. 

BAD: The Redskins’ opening series went nowhere. Alex Smith went deep and incomplete for Maurice Harris, then short and incomplete for Adrian Peterson, and then to Jamison Crowder complete and short of the sticks. To top it off, there was a five-yard false start on the punt. Not what they needed to counter a noisy Superdome crowd. 

UGLY: On New Orleans’ first possession, it looked like the Redskins had the Saints three and out but a holding flag on the third-down play gave them new life.

Then Brees went to Thomas for 20 yards into Washington territory. A screen pass to Mark Ingram was good for 28 yards down to the two. On the next play, Ingram powered in and the Saints took a 6-0 lead. The only good thing was that the Saints missed the extra point. 

SECOND QUARTER:

GOOD: The Saints were trying to run out the clock at the end of the half but Fabian Moreau forced a fumble that Pernell McPhee recovered and returned to the Saints 16-yard line. After a pass to Jamison Crowder picked up 13 yards to the three, Alex Smith scored on a four-yard quarterback draw.

BAD: Ryan Kerrigan got his first sack of the season when he got Brees for an eight-yard loss. However, the Saints kept the ball after safety Montae Nicholson shoved Mark Ingram to the ground well after the whistle. Just a dumb play by Nicholson. It turned out to be costly as the Saints soon scored on a touchdown pass from Brees to Josh Hill.

UGLY: The Redskins’ defense as a whole. On the Saints’ first four first-half possessions they gave up 264 yards and four touchdowns.

THIRD QUARTER:

GOOD: Near the end of the third quarter the Redskins got a good drive going. It wasn’t a coincidence that a pass to Jordan Reed was a key part of the advance. He picked up 21 yards on his first reception of the game to move the ball into Saints territory. It would have set up a field goal try, but with the Redskins trailing by 27 they had to go for it on fourth and 10. Alex Smith lost a fumble and that was that.

BAD:  Alex Smith’s fourth-down pass was picked off by Justin Hardee who returned it 77 yards down to the Washington four. Smith was rolling out to his right and he just didn’t get enough on the ball and Hardee had an easy pick. The Saints turned it into another touchdown.

UGLY: The Redskins defense was completely uninspired coming out of the locker room after halftime. Brees and the Saints rolled right through them five plays, 74 yards, and a touchdown. They just did what they wanted to do.

FOURTH QUARTER:

GOOD: A fourth and two completion to Thompson helped get the Redskins on the board again in the fourth quarter. Passes to Jamison Crowder and Maurice Harris gained 24 and 33 yards to set up a one-yard TD plunge for Kapri Bibbs.

BAD: Smith committed his second fourth-down turnover of the second half. He went back to pass and was swarmed under immediately. The ball popped up in the air and the Saints recovered to set up a field goal. Like the first one it was all Smith’s fault but that didn’t make the play any prettier.

UGLY: The game. 

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Please realize how impressive it is that Adrian Peterson is returning for a third year with the Redskins

Please realize how impressive it is that Adrian Peterson is returning for a third year with the Redskins

What was supposed to be a miniseries is now being renewed for a third, full season.

On Wednesday, the Redskins announced they're exercising Adrian Peterson's team option for 2020, meaning the running back will return to Washington for another year in their backfield.

The natural reaction to news like that in today's sports landscape is to retweet it, or send the story to a buddy, or reflect on it for about seven seconds — and then immediately spin it forward. 

Will he start in Week 1? What does this say about Derrius Guice? Will the team still be thinking about drafting a running back? And asking questions like that is absolutely fine, since they're all worth considering.

Still, just chill for a bit before launching into what's next, because what's happened already with Peterson's Redskins career is remarkable and worth reflecting on.

When the former MVP signed with the Burgundy and Gold a few weeks before the 2018 season began, it felt completely possible that he'd be gone before even appearing in a meaningful contest. His contract was for one year and it was worth the NFL minimum. It was a total flyer for what was then a desperate offense.

But then Peterson showed his trademark burst in an exhibition matchup with the Broncos, hinting that he was no flyer. Then he posted 96 yards and a rushing touchdown in the opener in Arizona. Then two weeks later, he went off for 120 yards and two scores in a win versus the Packers.

Quickly, it became clear: The guy no one wanted was turning out to be the guy for the Redskins offense.

More highlights followed, including a 64-yard end zone visit against the Giants, a 90-yarder in Philly on Monday Night Football and a 119-yard effort in his penultimate appearance of the campaign.

All together, Peterson topped 1,000 yards for the eighth time in his career — as a 33-year-old behind an offensive line that changed constantly. So, the Redskins inked him to a two-year contract last offseason, rewarding him for his tremendous output. The expectation was that he'd share carries with Guice and Chris Thompson in 2019, helping out in more of a shared role.

Peterson, though, doesn't really abide by expectations.

After a bizarre Week 1 where then-coach Jay Gruden made No. 26 a healthy scratch, Peterson stepped in for an injured Guice and assumed the main role again. 15 starts later, the 34-year-old finished with another 898 yards and five TDs — on an even more limited offense that was without its two best blockers for the majority of its plays.

As a Redskin, he's carried the ball 462 times for 1,940 yards. He's racked up 12 rushing scores to go along with a receiving TD. The only time he's missed a game was when his head coach inexplicably deemed him not worthy of suiting up.

More often than not, a longtime, one-team legend will change uniforms late in their athletic life and quietly fade away. Their highlight reels won't feature a single clip from that final stop, pretending like it never happened. 

Peterson isn't exactly fading with the Redskins. Peterson isn't really fading at all with the Redskins, in fact. And now, the man whom Ron Rivera called the "epitome of what it means to be a pro in this league" is coming back for a third go-round.

Shortly after Washington's Wednesday announcement, Peterson tweeted at a photo of himself along with a caption that read, "Still going strong!!!" The post also featured an emoji of a fully-juiced battery.

In reality, the battery of Peterson's career is closer to 0% than it is 100%. But instead of trying to project the day when it finally runs out, sit back and enjoy what's left.

Yes, Peterson will ultimately be remembered as a Viking, but he's also giving Redskins fans plenty of memories. It feels like there's more to come, too.

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Report: Jordan Reed has cleared concussion protocol, wants to continue playing football

Report: Jordan Reed has cleared concussion protocol, wants to continue playing football

Just days after it was reported that Jordan Reed was still in concussion protocol six months after suffering one last August against the Falcons, the Redskins tight end is apparently healthy once again.

According to The Athletic, Reed has cleared concussion protocol and wants to continue playing professional football. Reed missed the entire season due to the concussion he suffered in Atlanta, the seventh documented concussion of his football career. 

While Reed may still want to suit up, it's unlikely it will be with Washington.

The Redskins are expected to release the tight end, who is entering the second to last season of a five-year, $46 million extension he signed following the 2015 season. The Redskins would save $8.5 million against the cap if they parted ways with Reed prior to June 1.

New head coach Ron Rivera has already parted with multiple veterans, releasing cornerback Josh Norman and Paul Richardson last Friday. Norman had one year remaining on his deal, while Richardson had three.

When asked about the tight end position earlier this month, Rivera wasn't shy about the team needing to improve the unit.

"Do we have our tight end? Probably not," Redskins head coach Ron Rivera said on Redskins Nation on Feb. 4. "That’s a big question mark." 

Two tight ends the Redskins could seek in free agency are Austin Hooper and Eric Ebron, among others.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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