METAIRIE, La. -- In the game in which Drew Brees became the NFL's career passing leader, the New Orleans Saints showed they might not need to be as dependent on him going forward.
Brees was exceptional, completing 26 of 29 passes for 363 yards with three touchdowns in a 43-19 victory against the Washington Redskins on Monday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Along the way he surpassed Peyton Manning's record 71,940 passing yards.
But the return of running back Mark Ingram II provided Brees with another weapon, and the defense played its second consecutive solid games.
As a result the Saints enter their bye week with a 4-1 record, looking like a complete team similar to the one that won the NFC South last season.
New Orleans rushed for just 98 yards on 32 rushes, but still had enough balance to convert 5 of 9 third-down opportunities and go the entire game without punting.
Ingram's presence lessened the burden on Alvin Kamara, who had nine touches compared to Ingram's 18.
"It was great having him here," Kamara said of Ingram, who was suspended for the first four games of the season before rushing for two touchdowns and 53 yards against the Redskins. "His energy was definitely missed."
Ingram, who was disciplined for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing drugs, started the game and had a 28-yard pass reception and three rushes for 8 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown run, on the opening possession.
"Our coaches found a great game plan in order to keep us both involved," Ingram said. "I appreciate the coaches for putting the game plan together and my teammates for all their hard work and who have supported me.
"The coaches had faith in me that I was ready and staying in shape. My goal was to be able to help the team win the game."
The defense continued the momentum from a 33-18 road victory against the New York Giants a week earlier. The Saints took the ball away twice from the Redskins, who finished with 39 rushing yards, 283 total yards and converted just 4 of 13 third downs as well as 2 of 4 fourth downs.
But rookie defensive end Marcus Davenport, who made his second sack of the season and forced a fumble that linebacker A.J. Klein recovered, said the defense was not satisfied.
"We know that we need to get better," he said. "We were kind of upset. We want to stop more plays. I always look to improve and I know it's the same way with my teammates."
New Orleans, which has won four straight and holds a half-game lead over Carolina in the NFC South, returns from its bye to visit Baltimore on Oct. 21.
--CB Justin Hardee was pressed into duty when Marshon Lattimore and P.J. Williams were injured and stayed in the game even after Williams returned. Hardee made his first career interception and returned it 77 yards to set up a touchdown. "It's the next-man-up mentality," defensive end Cameron Jordan said. "Hardee came up and made a big play."
--QB Drew Brees has not been intercepted in his last 232 passes. He has had six consecutive interception-free regular-season games, a career-best.
--LB Demario Davis made his 700th career tackle. He had a total of six tackles in the game.
--QB Taysom Hill scored his first career touchdown on a 1-yard run in the third quarter. His snaps are increasing as a wild card who can line up at quarterback, running back and wide receiver in addition to his roles as a kickoff returner and a blocking back on punts.
--WR Cameron Meredith continues to get healthier now that a year has passed since he had major knee surgery as a member of the Bears. He had season-highs of five catches and 71 yards.
--S Vonn Bell has become the primary nickelback since Patrick Robinson was lost to a broken ankle three weeks ago. Bell had a team-high eight tackles, including one for loss.