Playing in the coldest game in franchise history with the wind-chill temperature in negative digits and with their faint playoff hopes on the line, the New Orleans Saints rallied from a 10-point deficit to defeat the Cleveland Browns 17-10 on Saturday at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
The Saints (6-9), who have their first winning streak of the season, are tied with Carolina (6-9) for second place in the NFC South, a half- game behind Tampa (6-8). The Buccaneers play at Arizona (4-10) on Sunday. The Saints need to win their final two games and get some help to win the division.
"I thought our guys showed incredible grit," Coach Dennis Allen said. "...They showed a lot of fight today."
The Browns (6-9), who were eliminated from playoff contention with the loss, grabbed an early 10-0 lead on a Deshaun Watson touchdown run and a Cade York field goal. The Saints scored on a short Wil Lutz field goal as time expired in the first half to make it 10-3. They took the opening second half kickoff and scored on an 8-yard Taysom Hill touchdown run. On the next possession, backup safety Daniel Sorensen intercepted Watson, setting up a 4-yard Alvin Kamara touchdown run. Kamara tied the franchise touchdown record of 72 on the third quarter score.
The defense won the game by stopping the Browns on fourth-and-10 from inside the Saints' 20 on a sack by defensive end Carl Granderson. New Orleans held Cleveland to 249 of offense with Watson going 15 of 31 for 135 yards with one interception.
"None of these games in our league are ever easy," Allen said.
Hill finished with 56 yards on nine carries, Kamara had 76 carries for 20 yards while quarterback Andy Dalton was eight of 15 for 92 yards with one interception. Rookie Rashid Shaheed was the top receiver with four catches for 41 yards.
The Saints lost left guard Andrus Peat to an ankle injury in the first half and defensive back Justin Evans to a shoulder injury.
Allen said he gave the team's equipment staff a game ball for everything they did to get the team ready for the extreme cold and windy weather. It was six degrees at kickoff with a wind-chill factor in minus double digits.
"It was cold, and it was windy," Allen said. "The weather was certainly a factor."
Said Kamara: "The elements are the elements, we still had to get our job done."
The Saints will play at the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Jan. 1 before ending the regular season at home against the Carolina Panthers either on Jan. 7 or 8.