With latest victory, Saints look destined to win

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Howie Long

Howie Long is an NFL Hall of Famer and Emmy-Award winning analyst on the "FOX NFL Sunday" pregame show. He earned eight Pro Bowl berths in his 13-year career with the Oakland Raiders, helping lead them to a victory in Super Bowl XVIII, before joining FOX Sports in 1994.

Maybe the Saints are a team of destiny and have a legitimate shot at running the regular-season table. I just saw them rally for their 12th win of the season against the Redskins, and my first comment is it's hard to believe Drew Brees passed for 419 yards on what you could say was an off day.
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Then, after a fierce rally, when the Redskins had a chance to put the game on ice, their kicker Shaun Suisham missed a 23-yard field-goal try, basically an extra-point attempt. This was the opening the Saints needed. They had a chance to tie it up, and they did exactly that. But they needed some help in overtime. The officials called Washington fullback Mike Sellers down by contact, and the whistles blew, but the replay official reversed the call on the field and the Saints were given the ball. Eight plays later, after getting it on the Washington 37-yard line, Garrett Hartley kicked the game-winning field goal. The first big break for the Saints came at the end of the first half. Brees was intercepted by Kareem Moore, but he fumbled after a 14-yard return. Saints receiver Robert Meachem returned the fumble for a touchdown as the first half ended. That play also survived an instant-replay review. It was that kind of day! The Redskins got pretty consistent pressure on Brees all day. It's obvious the Saints have been getting everyone's best game, and Washington defensive coordinator Greg Blache tried everything. Although 63 points were scored, both Blache and Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams tried everything they could to win this game. The past few games, Washington quarterback Jason Campbell has played very well. And he's doing it behind a patchwork offensive line. The key is Campbell and his young receivers are really starting to connect. Devin Thomas had two touchdown receptions while tight end Fred Davis had five catches and Campbell's other touchdown. It was only the second time in Campbell's career he passed for three touchdowns in a game. In the end, turnovers were Washington's undoing. But I never would have thought they would have put up 455 yards on the Saints. Washington also shut down the Saints' running game, limiting them to 55 yards on 24 carries. But the Saints, who were knocked around quite a bit in this game, have a chance. They play Atlanta next Sunday, and Matt Ryan may not play in that one, either. Then they get the Cowboys and Bucs in the Superdome before closing the season at Carolina. They definitely have a shot at 16-0!

Go for 16-0 or rest?

I was trying to make a case for a hot Tennessee team to come into Indianapolis, but the unbeaten Colts continue to roll. To me, it will be interesting if they get to 15-0. We know new coach Jim Caldwell wants to rest his starters for the playoffs just like his former boss, Tony Dungy, did. But Peyton Manning has a great perspective on history and his own legacy. Yes, all signs point to their resting the team, but I wouldn't count out Peyton suggesting, "Let's go for it." And, don't forget, the Colts will be playing in Buffalo on the final weekend of the regular season.

Eastern confusion

At the end of the day, the NFC East is as confusing as ever. We all picked the Cowboys to beat the Giants, but I guess if there were ever a month for Dallas to forget, it would be December. It's bizarre this talented team can't win in December over the past three seasons. This loss to the Giants will severely test what appears to me to be a much better locker room in Dallas. I go back to the Flozell Adams play just before the end of the first half when he shoved Justin Tuck from behind. You could make the case Flozell woke up the Giants on what was a really dumb play. All Tuck would say about it is he hopes he gets to meets Flozell one more time this season, and the only way that happens would be in the playoffs. Both New York and Dallas have to go to Washington, which is not an easy deal right now. I know it was a tough loss for them, but the Redskins strike me as a team that will keep fighting and playing hard. I know Campbell wants to keep improving and keep that offense going. The Giants, though, have to get by the Eagles next Sunday in Giants Stadium.

Shocker in Pittsburgh

The biggest shocker of the day was my former team, the Raiders, going into Pittsburgh and beating the defending champs. The Steelers have lost four straight now, the last three on the game's final possession. They just can't seem to finish people off like they did last year. It's difficult to put my finger on why this is happening. But they allowed Bruce Gradkowski to beat them in the final seconds. I realize there might have been a little fallout from the Hines Ward-Ben Roethlisberger comments, but Big Ben hit Ward with a touchdown pass to put them ahead late in the fourth quarter. I guess you have to believe Pittsburgh really misses Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu an awful lot. What's unbelievable right now is that Pittsburgh is 6-6 and looking at missing the playoffs.
Tagged: Falcons, Cowboys, Colts, Raiders, Saints, Giants, Eagles, Redskins, Steelers, Mike Sellers, Flozell Adams, Peyton Manning, Hines Ward, Drew Brees, Troy Polamalu, Jason Campbell, Justin Tuck, Shaun Suisham, Bruce Gradkowski, Robert Meachem, Devin Thomas, Fred Davis, Matt Ryan, Kareem Moore, Garrett Hartley

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