WASHINGTON — With Chris Thompson in an air cast, the Washington Redskins were down their best playmaker, but it didn’t matter. They were up by 15 points with five minutes left in the game.
Sure, they were playing future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees in his home at the Superdome, but the odds of the Saints scoring a touchdown, converting an onsides kick or coming up with a defensive hold, then scoring another touchdown and converting a two-point conversion, just to force overtime, was statistically impossible.
Until it wasn’t. Here’s a look at the trend line for the probability of victory. Anyone skiing off a slope that steep would die, like the Redskins’ chances of winning:
From the point where they had a 99.6 percent chance of winning, the Redskins crashed.
The Saints picked up four first downs in eight plays, marching 75 yards down the field for a touchdown. They faced only one third down and tight end Coby Fleener caught passes of 24 and 25 yards.
The Redskins went three-and-out, including a third-and-1 run by running back Samaje Perine, who was tackled for a loss. The Redskins punted with an eight-point lead and held their collective breaths.
The Saints made it easy for them, marching 87 yards in five plays for the touchdown. They faced no second-down plays on the drive and picked up yards in chunks of 17, 18, 29 and 18 yards. They then picked up the two-point conversion as Alvin Kamara walked into the end zone untouched.
The final drop in win probability had to wait for overtime, as the Redskins squandered the final 1:05 of regulation with a drive that included a botched screen pass that led to an intentional grounding penalty that dropped them out of field goal range.
The Redskins had the ball last in regulation. They had the ball first in overtime after winning the coin toss.
It didn’t matter because the Redskins couldn’t move the ball. The Saints racked up 213 yards and 18 points in the final six minutes of regulation and overtime. The Redskins managed just two punts and 29 yards, including -10 yards in their only overtime possession.
Their probability of winning was certain. Until it wasn’t.