Breaking Tampa Bay, Florida and national news and weather from Tampa Bay Online and The Tampa Tribune | TBO.com
  • Home
National Football League
PRESEASON
12345
REGULAR SEASON
12345
678910
1112131415
1617   
PLAYOFFS
123PBSB

 
           === Graham's FG on final play sends Saints over Eagles ===
 
 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
 score.
 
 Earlier,  Graham's 36-yard field goal midway through the second quarter opened
 the scoring.
 
 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
 loss.
 
 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
 the game.
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 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
 for 34:53.
 
 01/05 03:27:43 ET

Part of the Tribune family of products

© 2013 TAMPA MEDIA GROUP, LLC