Meridian Star

Sports

January 4, 2014

Saints edge Eagles 26-24 for wild-card win

PHILADELPHIA  — The New Orleans Saints finally came up with the right plan for outdoor playoff football in cold weather. It got them their first postseason road victory.

    Shayne Graham's 32-yard field goal, the fourth Saturday night for the recent addition to the team, won it on the final play, 26-24 over the Philadelphia Eagles. Drew Brees, who threw for a touchdown and guided the 34-yard drive to the winning kick, didn't need to be a big star because the Saints' running game and defense — along with Graham's leg — provided the heroics.

    "It's just, man, believing in each other, ignoring what everyone else has to say," Brees said.

    New Orleans (12-5) will play at NFC top-seed Seattle next Saturday. The Saints lost there 34-7 in the regular season.

    "It's loud, it's crazy, they've got a good thing going there," Brees said of the next challenge.

    Graham, signed by the Saints just over two weeks ago to replace long-time kicker Garrett Hartley, also connected from 36, 46 and 35 yards.

    Brees threw for a touchdown, Mark Ingram rushed for 97 yards and another score, and the Saints' defense slowed Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense just enough. New Orleans had been 0-5 in postseason games outside of the Big Easy since entering the league in 1967.

    Philadelphia wound up 10-7 in Kelly's first year as coach. He guided them from worst to first in the NFC East, but they were only 4-5 at home.

    Nick Foles hit rookie Zach Ertz for a 3-yard touchdown with 4:54 remaining as Philadelphia rallied from a 13-point deficit to take a one-point lead. But Darren Sproles had a 39-yard kickoff return and a horse-collar tackle brought New Orleans to the Philadelphia 48. Using mostly runs, the Saints ate up the clock and set up Graham's winner.

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