After succeeding for three consecutive games, the New Orleans Saints couldn't keep pace with their porous defense their last time out.
The Washington Redskins have also often labored to keep opponents off the scoreboard in their past six contests but are on the cusp of matching their longest single-season home winning streak in three years.
The Redskins will try to accomplish that goal Sunday while preventing the Saints from getting back to .500.
Article continues below ...
New Orleans' 29.8 points and 414.8 yards allowed per game are among the league's worst, but the Saints (4-5) managed to produce a three-game win streak that was capped by a wild 52-49 victory over the New York Giants on Nov. 1.
Kai Forbath delivered that win with a 50-yard field goal as time expired, but his 46-yard attempt with 56 seconds remaining in regulation was blocked last weekend against Tennessee. The Titans then ended New Orleans' run with an 80-yard drive on the lone overtime possession in a 34-28 victory.
“The sky's not falling,” coach Sean Payton said. “It's one game, and it's disappointing.”
The Redskins' defense has been better statistically in giving up averages of 24.4 points and 372.9 yards. Washington, though, has yielded 28.0 points per game while dropping four of six and has let each of its past four opponents surpass 415 yards.
The Redskins gave up a season-high 479 to Tampa Bay on Oct. 25 but had a franchise-record, 24-point comeback in a 31-30 victory. They allowed 460 to New England last Sunday and were easily handled in a 27-10 road loss.
Jay Gruden's team was also 3-5 halfway through his first season then dropped seven of its final eight. Washington started 3-5 in 2013 under Mike Shanahan then lost eight in a row.
“The heat has to be turned up. The urgency level has to be high for our football team,” Gruden said. “We can't go out and lay an egg in the first quarter of a game. We can't do that moving forward if we want to have a chance to accomplish our goals.
“We've got to start faster. We've got to challenge our guys, challenge our coaching staff. Everybody's got to work a little harder, prepare a little better.”
The comeback against Tampa Bay – capped by a Kirk Cousins touchdown pass with 24 seconds left – was one of Washington's three consecutive home wins. Cousins also connected on a go-ahead TD with 26 seconds remaining in a 23-20 victory over visiting Philadelphia on Oct. 4.
The Redskins last won four in a row on their own field Nov. 18-Dec. 30, 2012. That was their fifth such single-season win streak of that length since taking six in a row in 1991.
They might have Terrance Knighton back in the lineup for Sunday's attempt. The nose tackle missed the New England game because of migraine headaches and was reportedly back at practice Wednesday.
Safety Dashon Goldson, who injured his hamstring late last week, practiced on a limited basis. The team put center Kory Lichtensteiger on injured reserve (neck) and signed Brian de la Puente, who has 50 NFL starts on his resume.
Linebacker Keenan Robinson is dealing with a shoulder injury that caused him to leave the loss to the Patriots. Robinson and Goldson are Washington's two leading tacklers but neither has a sack for one of the league's least-effective pass-rushing teams.
The Redskins are tied for 27th with 13 sacks. The three teams New Orleans beat during its win streak – Atlanta, Indianapolis and the Giants – all have 13 sacks or fewer.
Tennessee, by contrast, is tied for seventh with 22 and got to Drew Brees on four occasions last weekend. The Saints gave up a combined three sacks in the other three games.
Brees still threw for 387 yards and three touchdowns against the Titans with one interception. He has 892 yards, 10 TDs and three picks in his first two games this month.
Brees has 758 yards and five TDs in his last two against Washington, but Robert Griffin III helped lead the Redskins to a 40-32 victory in the latest matchup Sept. 9, 2012.
The Saints have won in three of their last four visits to Washington.