Saints win 1st playoff game outdoors, in cold vs. Eagles

January 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

PHILADELPHIA – Shayne Graham hit a 32-yard field goal as time expired to lift the New Orleans Saints to a gritty 26-24 playoff victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

Graham’s kick came after New Orleans had fallen behind 24-23 with 4:54 to play on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Eagles quarterback Nick Foles to tight end Zach Ertz.

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But the Eagles could not stop the playoff-experienced Saints, who took the kickoff and drove the ball 34 yards in 10 plays – a grinding march that mixed short passes with tough inside running – to run down the clock and set up Graham’s winning kick. Graham was playing in just his third game for the Saints, coming aboard after Garrett Hartley was cut with two games to play in the regular season.

The wild-card Saints (12-5), the NFC’s sixth seed, advance to play the top-seeded Seattle Seahawks next weekend in the divisional round. Seattle routed the visiting Saints in a regular-season meeting 34-7 on Dec. 2. The Eagles, champions of the NFC East, finished 10-7 in coach Chip Kelly’s rookie season.

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The victory was also a statement of sorts for the Saints, who came into the game with an 0-5 all-time mark in road playoff games and wanted to show they can beat a good team on the road.

It was supposed to be a clash of high-flying offenses, but the Saints showed off a power running game – even with starting running back Pierre Thomas on the inactive list. New Orleans, clearly determined to play ball control and keep the Eagles fast-paced offense on the sideline, got a combined 142 yards on 26 carries from Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson.

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