After spotting the Philadelphia Eagles a two-touchdown lead, the New Orleans Saints reeled off 20 consecutive points to win 20-14 Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and advance to the NFC championship game vs. the Los Angeles Rams.
The Saints (14-3) will play host to the Rams (14-3) Sunday, Jan. 20. It will be the Saints' first appearance in the NFC championship game since 2010 and the third time in franchise history.
The comeback was sparked by a successful fake punt by Taysom Hill, an incredible performance by receiver Michael Thomas and a smothering effort by the defense. The game turned on an 11-play, 92-yard drive that ate up 11 minutes, 29 seconds in the third quarter. It was the longest playoff drive since 2007. New Orleans overcame two holding penalties and a false start.
The Saints scored on a 2-yard pass from quarterback Drew Brees to Thomas, who had 12 catches for 171 yards. The Saints added a 39-yard Wil Lutz field goal but a missed attempt from 52 yards with 2:58 gave the Eagles (9-8) a last chance at victory. But cornerback Marshomn Lattimore intercepted Nick Foles for the second time to ice the game.
After starting the game 8 of 9 for 113 yards with a touchdown pass and a 1-yard TD run, Foles finished 18 of 31 for 201 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions as the Saints defense smothered the Philadelphia offense. Brees did the reverse, as he recovered from a 2 of 6 for 30 yards start in the first quarter to finish 28 of 38 for 301 yards and two touchdowns (first was 2-yard pass to Keith Kirkwood in second quarter).
The Saints dominated time of possession, 37:50 to 22:10 and had 25 first downs to the Eagles' 15 and outgained them 420 yards to 250. New Orleans won in spite of 11 penalties for 84 yards.
This will be the second time the Saints will play the Rams this season as they defeated the NFC West champs 45-35 on Nov. 4 at the Superdome. The Rams advanced with a 30-22 divisional win over the Dallas Cowboys.
The Saints lost star defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins to a lower left leg injury but otherwise came out of the game relatively healthy.
Key Saints stat leaders
Drew Brees, 28 of 38 for 301 yards with two touchdowns and one interception
Mark Ingram, nine carries for 53 yards
Alvin Kamara, 16 carries for 71 yards
Michael Thomas, 12 catches for 171 yards