LANDOVER, Md. (AP)—Deuce McAllister did everything but score.
The only constant in a season that has seen the New Orleans Saints beat the losing teams and lose to the winners, McAllister ran for 100 yards for the ninth consecutive game Sunday in a 24-20 victory over the Washington Redskins.
“You know he’s going to get five yards a pop,” cornerback Ashley Ambrose said. “Deuce is a man-child. People don’t realize how strong he is, how fast he is. We’re going to ride him out.”
McAllister was 63 percent of the offense, running for 165 yards on 30 carries and catching four passes for 31 more. His 100-yard game streak ties him for third all-time with Walter Payton and Fred Taylor; Barry Sanders holds the record with 14.
“You can think about it after the season,” said McAllister, who has 1,393 yards rushing. “But right now the Ws are a lot more important.”
All six Ws have come against teams with losing records, while the Saints (6-6) are 0-6 against teams above .500. They’ll need to get over that hump to make the playoffs for the first time since 2000.
“I know we can make it to the show,” Ambrose said. “The last couple of years, this team has faded in the end, but this is the time now to step up.”
The Redskins (4-8) have no such hope left. They have lost three straight and seven of eight, and the defense failed to hold a lead by giving up the winning drive in the fourth quarter for the third straight week. Ten of Washington’s games have been decided by seven points or fewer.
“This is new for a lot of us, trying to win the close ones,” coach Steve Spurrier said. “We’re in a bad habit right now, and something bad’s happening to us near the end of the game. We’re not making anything good happen to overcome it.”
Aaron Brooks shook off a knee injury to run for two scores and pass for another, but McAllister handled the ball on 35 of New Orleans’ 67 offensive plays. The winning score was Brooks’ 15-yard pass to Boo Williams with 9:38 remaining, a drive set up by Keyuo Craver’s 52-yard kickoff return.
Craver’s was a rare big play after a day of gaffes by the Saints’ special teams.
Washington’s loss marred Tim Hasselbeck’s first NFL start. With Patrick Ramsey out with a foot injury, Hasselbeck was 22-of-42 for 232 yards with one interception, one lost fumble and a crucial third-down overthrow when Laveranues Coles was wide open late in the fourth quarter.
“That’s the play I want back,” said Hasselbeck, whose ups and downs were reflected in the expressions from his wife, ex-“Survivor” contestant and new “The View” host Elisabeth. “I didn’t give him a chance to put his hands on the football. To put it out of bounds the way I did, it really gives us no chance.”
The Redskins did have two firsts. Chad Morton’s 94-yard kickoff return was the first touchdown scored by Washington’s defense or special teams. Trung Canidate (115 yards) became the first Redskin to rush for 100 yards.
A 40-yard pass interference call on Bailey set up the game’s first score— Brooks’ 7-yard quarterback draw on his gimpy knee.
“You should have seen the look he got when we called the quarterback draw,” coach Jim Haslett said.
Brooks rolled his eyes and laughed when asked about the play. “I was a little skeptical about it, but, hey, you’ve got to put your body on the line,” he said.
The Redskins were leading 17-10 in the third quarter, but they gave the Saints loads of help to tie it. Regan Upshaw’s late hit on the quarterback and Bailey’s second interference penalty accounted for 29 yards of a 77-yard drive. Brooks made Jessie Armstead whiff on 2-yard scramble for the touchdown.
John Hall’s 49-yard field goal gave the Redskins their final lead, but thedefense failed again.
There were no sacks by either team, leaving Washington’s Bruce Smith tied with Reggie White atop the all-time list. … Injuries: Washington WR Rod Gardner (bruised forearm), New Orleans RBs James Fenderson and Fred McAffee (sprained ankles), LB Cie Grant (calf strain), DE Willie Whitehead (knee). … Hasselbeck’s brother, Matt, started Sunday for Seattle. It was only the second time in NFL history two brothers started on the same day. Brock Huard (Seattle) and Damon Huard (Miami) started games on Nov. 26, 2000. … Washington RBLadell Betts returned after missing four games with a broken arm.