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WASHINGTON 16, NEW ORLEANS 10

Saints lose the game, win a title

December 18, 2006|From the Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Saints returned to their lockers to find hats and T-shirts commemorating the franchise's first playoff berth since 2000.

Players hastily stuffed them in bags as they dressed and left the stadium looking frustrated.

"I won't be celebrating at all tonight if that's what you're wondering," quarterback Drew Brees said after the Saints clinched the NFC South by default Sunday while losing, 16-10, to the underdog Washington Redskins. "I have the shirt. I have the hat. They're in my bag. I'll go home and I'll put them in my closet."

New Orleans (9-5) still holds the No. 2 seeding in the NFC, having beaten Dallas (9-5) last week. Clinching a first-round bye just got a little harder, however.

"Our standards are higher than maybe what you would think," Brees said. "We won the division. That's great, but it came in a loss. We still have more things now that we want to accomplish."

After Atlanta's loss to the Cowboys on Saturday night, the Saints' only remaining pursuer in the NFC South, Carolina, was eliminated Sunday by a loss to Pittsburgh.

The Redskins (5-9), meanwhile, played more like a team looking to quiet harsh criticism than a unit already out of playoff contention, punishing the Saints' defense with a running attack that racked up 161 yards.

"I have never been prouder of a bunch of guys, with everything that's happened to us this year," Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said. "It was a fight. It was a pride game for us.... They played as hard as they could play."

Coming off a career-high 171 yards rushing last week, Ladell Betts had 119 in 22 carries, while blossoming quarterback Jason Campbell outplayed Brees.

Campbell threw for 204 yards and a 31-yard touchdown to Santana Moss, and Shaun Suisham kicked two field goals of 37 yards and another of 22.

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