LANDOVER, Md. (AP) Until Sunday, Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins hadn't thrown for more than three touchdowns in a game in his NFL career. Until Sunday, he hadn't completed a scoring pass of more than 7 yards this season.
And until Sunday, he never got the chance to play against the New Orleans Saints' porous, poor-tackling defense, either.
Probably not a coincidence.
In by far his best game as a pro, Cousins threw a career-high four touchdown passes – each one longer than any TD toss of his all season – and registered a perfect passer rating of 158.3 to lead the Redskins past the Saints 47-14 on Sunday.
''I'm getting better as a quarterback,'' said Cousins, 20 for 25 for 324 yards and zero interceptions. ''When you're in the zone and things are going really well, you're just playing and your mind is free and you're not allowing things to inhibit your play.''
Asked how Cousins should be viewed after this performance, Redskins coach Jay Gruden cracked himself up, replying: ''Maybe you should write a positive article on him, for once, you know?''
Gruden continued: ''Kirk's going to take his lumps, man, but he's going to keep grinding and you can see the results starting to pay off.''
Cousins connected for scores of 78 yards to running back Matt Jones, 16 and 8 yards to tight end Jordan Reed, and 11 yards to receiver Jamison Crowder.
The 33-point margin of victory was Washington's largest since beating San Francisco 52-17 in 2005.
The Redskins (4-5) led 37-14 at the end of the third quarter, then tacked on more points 42 seconds into the fourth on safety Dashon Goldson's 35-yard TD return of an interception of Drew Brees.
Coming off a pair of games in which he accounted for 10 TDs and nearly 900 yards, Brees went 19 for 28 for 201 yards, two first-half TD passes to Brandin Cooks and two fourth-quarter interceptions.
The Saints (4-6) lost their second game in a row, following a run of three victories that briefly got them to .500.
''There wasn't a lot, I'm sure, that we (are) going to look at on that tape that we're not going to be disappointed in,'' Saints coach Sean Payton said.
He was asked about the possibility of personnel or coaching staff changes during his team's upcoming bye week and said: ''We're not going to discuss any of those type of changes, certainly not right now.''
Sunday's numbers brought the totals for New Orleans' past three opponents to 130 points and more than 1,400 yards; it's the most points the Saints have allowed in a single-season three-game span in team history, according to STATS.
''We can't allow this to keep happening,'' safety Kenny Vaccaro said.
The Saints' defense didn't put up much resistance when the Redskins ran the ball, either. Washington's Alfred Morris came in having gained 51 yards on 29 carries in his previous four games; this time, he wound up with 92 yards on 15 carries.
In the first half, Washington's offense seemingly could do no wrong – in large part because Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's unit couldn't do anything right.
The Redskins led 27-14 at halftime, their most points through two quarters in nearly three years; they put up 28 against Dallas on Thanksgiving Day in 2012, back when Cousins was a rookie backup to Robert Griffin III.
Washington's opening possession set the tone. It covered 96 yards in 10 plays, the team's longest drive in 15 years – since a 98-yarder against the New York Giants in December 2000 – and included an early 42-yard pass to DeSean Jackson, then ended with Cousins' 16-yarder to Reed.
''I see his confidence growing each week,'' Reed said about Cousins. ''I feel like he's putting in hard work and that's given him confidence to know that he's going to go perform on the field.''
Notes: Cousins' play-action screen to Jones for 78 yards was the longest TD catch by a Redskins RB since Larry Brown scored from 89 in 1972. … Cousins is first Redskins QB with at least 300 yards passing and a rating above 150 since Sammy Baugh in 1948. … Saints CB Keenan Lewis injured his left knee.
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