Shayne Graham kicked a 32-yard field goal as time expired as New Orleans overcame a sub-par performance from Drew Brees, the absence of their starting running back and below-freezing temperatures to win a road playoff game for the first time in franchise history.
Brees was 20-of-30 for 250 yards with one touchdown and a pair of interceptions for sixth-seeded New Orleans (12-5), which advanced to face top-seeded Seattle, the same team that pounded the Saints 34-7 just over a month ago. With Pierre Thomas (chest) unavailable, Mark Ingram rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown and the Saints ran for 185 yards as a team, with veteran Darren Sproles, rookie Khiry Robinson and even Brees contributing valuable yards on the ground.
Philadelphia (10-7), which ended the regular season by winning seven of its final eight games – including last week’s do-or-die showdown in Dallas – took the lead in this one with less than five minutes left but could not stop New Orleans on the pivotal final drive. Nick Foles was 23-of-33 for 195 yards and two touchdowns while LeSean McCoy, the NFL’s leading rusher, ran for only 77 yards on 21 attempts for the third-seeded Eagles.
The Saints scored a pair of third-quarter touchdowns – Brees’ 24-yard strike to Lance Moore and Ingram’s 4-yard plunge – to take a 20-7 lead, but the Eagles answered right back with a seven-play drive capped by McCoy’s TD run on fourth-and-1. The teams traded field goals early in the fourth quarter, leaving Philadelphia still down six points, before a 40-yard pass interference penalty on New Orleans cornerback Corey White set up Foles’ 3-yard TD to Zach Ertz with 4:54 remaining.
Sproles returned the ensuing kickoff 39 yards and was horse-collar tackled by Cary Williams, adding another 15 yards onto the end of the run. The Saints faced a pair of third-and-1 situations on the final drive, but Brees got the first down easily both times via quarterback sneaks, and Graham’s kick split the uprights.
GAME NOTEBOOK: The Eagles led 7-6 after a surprisingly low-scoring first half in which Brees threw two interceptions, including a pick by DeMeco Ryans that set up Foles’ 10-yard TD strike to Riley Cooper on third-and-9. … Saints CB Keenan Lewis left with a head injury late in the third quarter. To that point, Lewis had blanketed DeSean Jackson, who promptly caught a 40-yard pass against White to set up the Eagles’ second touchdown. … All-Pro TE Jimmy Graham was limited to three catches for 44 yards for New Orleans.