Final Score: New Orleans 26, Philadelphia 24
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - The New Orleans Saints turned to their
run game and drastically improved defense in frigid Philadelphia and ended
their road hex in the playoffs.
It won't get easier next week in rowdy Seattle.
Shayne Graham nailed a game-winning 32-yard field goal as time expired and
the Saints defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 26-24 in the NFC Wild Card Round
on Saturday night.
After Eagles quarterback Nick Foles flipped a go-ahead 3-yard touchdown pass
to Zach Ertz with 4:54 left, Drew Brees converted two key third downs with a
pair of quarterback sneaks on the ensuing Saints possession.
Graham, who replaced Garrett Hartley last month, then kicked New Orleans to
its first road playoff win in six tries since coming into the NFL in 1967.
"I felt comfortable and confident and luckily got bombarded on the field after
the play and it was a great feeling," Graham said.
The sixth-seeded Saints moved on to face the top-seeded Seahawks next Saturday
afternoon in Seattle, where they lost 34-7 in Week 13.
In January 2011, the reigning Super Bowl champion Saints lost 41-36 to a 7-9
Seahawks team in Seattle in the Wild Card round.
"It's loud, it's crazy, they've got a good thing going there," Brees said.
"We're going to need our best game, that's for sure."
New Orleans, which was without Pierre Thomas, totaled 185 yards rushing on 36
carries, while its defense limited Chip Kelly's high-powered offense to just
256 yards. The NFC East-champion Eagles averaged 417.3 yards per game during
the regular season.
"Defense played fantastic all game long," Brees said.
Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan patched up and improved New Orleans' porous
defense, which became the first team in NFL history to allow over 7,000 yards
of offense a year ago, after being brought in when Dallas fired him following
the 2012 season. The Saints finished 2013 fourth in yards given up with 4,891.
"He had a really good game plan," Kelly said of Ryan.
Brees was 20-of-30 for 250 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, while
Mark Ingram carried the ball 18 times for 97 yards and a touchdown.
Foles completed 23-of-33 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns and LeSean
McCoy ran for 77 yards and a score, but averaged just 3.7 yards on 21 carries.
"It's tough to lose. It hurts. But we're going to keep building," Foles said.
Ingram's 4-yard TD plunge staked New Orleans a 20-7 lead with 3:54 left in the
third quarter, but the Eagles tallied the next 10 points to whittle the
deficit to 20-17.
DeSean Jackson made his first catch of the game, a 40-yard reception down to
the Saints' 9, at the 3:06 mark of the third. He ran an out-and-up against
cornerback Corey White, who came into the contest after Keenan Lewis was
injured the play prior, and boxed him out to haul in the underthrown pass.
McCoy darted through the right side of the line for a 1-yard score four plays
later on fourth-and-goal.
A holding penalty led to a Saints three-and-out on their next touch, and Alex
Henery's 31-yard field goal pulled the Eagles within three with 11:14 left.
Graham then split the uprights from 35 yards out before Ertz's TD catch capped
an 8-play, 77-yard march. A 40-yard pass interference call on White led to the
Earlier, Graham's 36-yard field goal midway through the second quarter opened
Prior to that, the first miscue of the game came late in the first
quarter when Brees lofted a pass too far of Kenny Stills running down the
right sideline and Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher hauled in the overthrow.
The Eagles, though, were unable to come away with points.
Henery hooked a 48-yard field goal to the left two plays after Saints
linebacker Curtis Lofton sniffed out Brent Celek on a tight-end screen for an
eight-yard loss and defensive end Cameron Jordan sacked Foles for an 11-yard
Philadelphia took advantage of Brees' second interception, however.
After Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans returned Brees' pass intended for Lance
Moore 23 yards to the New Orleans 44, Foles found Riley Cooper in the back of
the end zone for a 10-yard score to finish off a 6-play, 44-yard trek.
Graham booted through a 46-yard field goal on the final play of the half to
get the Saints within 7-6 heading into the break.
Philadelphia went three-and-out on its first touch of the second half and
Brees completed a 6-play, 53-yard sequence with a 24-yard TD pass to
Moore to give New Orleans a 13-7 cushion.
The Eagles recorded four three-and-outs on their first seven possessions of
New Orleans was 7-of-13 on third down, while Philadelphia finished 3-of-12 ...
The Saints averaged 6.4 yards per carry ... New Orleans controlled the ball
01/05 03:27:15 ET
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