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Michael Thomas, Marshon Lattimore shine for New Orleans Saints in victory over Philadelphia

Saints will play Rams in NFC championship game

Check out the divisional round game action between the Saints and Eagles at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 13, 2019.

The worst of the New Orleans Saints met up with the best of the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and the best team won.


Once the Saints (14-3) stopped beating themselves, they were able to prevent Philadelphia (10-8) from doing so in a 20-14 victory in their NFC Divisional playoff game, to advance to the NFC Championship Game next Sunday in the Superdome.

After allowing 153 yards and 14 points in the first quarter, while totaling 21 yards and no points, the Saints steadied and produced another memorable playoff victory. They pitched a shutout over the final three quarters while allowing 97 yards and forcing two turnovers, and scored 20 unanswered points while accumulating 399 yards.

You don't have that kind of turnaround without several outstanding performances. These were among the best.

OFFENSE: Drew Brees threw an interception on his first pass and didn't have a completion in his first three attempts, before completing 28 of his final 35 passes for 301 yards and two touchdowns. He was phenomenal. But receiver Michael Thomas beasted the Eagles, and bested the Eagles. He caught 12 passes for 171 yards, a franchise single-game playoff record, and the lead-taking, 2-yard touchdown with 1:40 left in the third quarter. He was as clutch as he has been this season, with first-down receptions on second-and-20 (20 yards, in the third quarter), third-and-16 (20 yards, in the third quarter) and third-and-13 (22 yards, in the fourth). Thomas showed his All-Pro bona fides against the Eagles, and the Saints needed him to.

DEFENSE: The Saints had seven – count 'em, seven – consecutive defensive stops to finish the game. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore was responsible for two of them, beginning and ending the seven-stop run with interceptions. The first one, on a deep pass attempt for Zach Ertz in the second quarter, helped set the stage for the Saints' first touchdown drive to pull them to within 14-7. Lattimore almost seemed to invite the deep throw from Nick Foles, and recovered in time to produce a leaping interception. The second interception was just as impressive, and crucial. That one was a pass that was bobbled by Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery, on second-and-10 from the Saints' 27-yard line with 2:01 left, that Lattimore plucked off the ricochet and returned 14 yards to the 33. That one pretty much iced the game for the Saints and it place a bow on one of the most impressive defensive showings of the season. Lattimore equaled his season interception total with his clutch performance.

SPECIAL TEAMS: You don't realize how valuable is Thomas Morstead all the time, but he's been among the league's best punters for a decade for a reason. Three punts Sunday, for a 44.7-yard average and net, means the Eagles didn't have a single return yard against him. That's nothing new; the Saints allowed the fewest punt return yards in the league during the regular season. Still, he always seems to give New Orleans the punt it needs – distance, height, direction – when it's needed.

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