Sunday, September 14, 2008, was a great day at FedEx Field. It was the first home game of the Jim Zorn era and it was a day when preparation met opportunity. A day when Zorn’s unorthodox coaching methods reaped rewards on the field.
The Redskins were hosting the high-scoring offense of the New Orleans Saints. Everyone knew the Redskins were going to have to put points on the board in order to have a chance to win this game. This was easier said than done as the Redskins had managed just 7 points and 209 yards of total offense the previous week against the Giants.
The first half was relatively quiet as the Redskins failed to find the end zone. Shaun Suisham did kick 3 field goals and solid defense left the Skins trailing just 10-9 heading into the 2nd half. The second half was like a boxing match with each opponent landing blows.
Drew Brees found Robert Meachem on a 19 yard strike to put the Saints up 17-9. The Redskins immediately answered with a 9 yard rushing TD by Clinton Portis. However, the 2 point conversion failed and the score was now Saints 17 Redskins 15. The Saints would counter with a 55 yard punt return TD by Reggie Bush that appeared to give the Saints a little breathing room heading into 4th quarter, Saints 24 Redskins 15.
The Skins again would answer the Saints punches and Clinton Portis found pay dirt again from 8 yards out with just 5:59 left to play. The score was Saints 24 Redskins 22. A defensive stop put the ball in the Redskins hands with just a few minutes to play. Needing only a field goal to win the game, the Redskins and quarterback Jason Campbell had bigger thoughts. In the preparation meets opportunity moment, Campbell would "avoid, reset and throw" against the oncoming Saints defenders and hit Santana Moss with a perfect 67 yard TD pass to give the Redskins a 29-24 lead with 3:29 left to play. The "avoid, reset and throw" came from the teachings that Jim Zorn would practice by playing dodge ball with the quarterbacks.
The excitement wasn’t over as the Saints still had a chance to win the game with plenty of time left and the ball in Drew Brees hands. However, as the defense had done all day, they rose to the occasion once more. Rookie Chris Horton, making his first NFL start for an ill Reed Doughty, would intercept Brees with 2:59 left. Campbell would hit Moss for a 1st down on a fourth down play to cement the win for the Redskins.
Defensively the Redskins were led by Horton who had 2 interceptions and a fumble recovery. Cornelius Griffin and Jason Taylor added sacks for the Redskins who held the Saints to just 55 yards rushing. The defense also shut down Brees, allowing just 216 yards and 1TD.
Offensively the Skins were paced by the big play tandem of Campbell and Moss. Campbell had 321 yards passing with 164 of those going to Moss. Clinton Portis had a solid day on the ground, rushing for 96 yards and 2TD’s. Chris Cooley added 72 yards receiving on 5 catches.
The Redskins would go on to win 6 of their next 7 games and were 6-2 at the half way point. It was at that point that the wheels came off the Jim Zorn era. The Redskins would go 2-6 the rest of the way and 4-12 the next season under Zorn. Skins fans were no longer "horny for Zorny".
Cheers and Hail.