The New Orleans Saints took care of business again Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, dominating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 42-17 to secure a wild-card playoff spot and finish the season a perfect 8-0 at home.
The Saints (11-5) will be the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs and will play in a wild-card game at 7:10 p.m. Saturday on NBC against the Philadelphis Eagles (10-6). The Eagles defeated the Dallas Cowboys 24-22 Sunday night to win the NFC East. San Francisco (12-4) edged Arizona 23-20 to secure the five seed and will play Green Bay, which raillied to defeat Chicago 33-28 Sunday to capture the NFC North and the fourth seed.
The winner of the Eagles-Cowboys game earns the NFC East title and the No. 3 seed. We will update the result of that game Sunday night.
The Saints' chance of winning the NFC South and the No. 2 seed ended when Carolina (12-4) edged Atlanta 21-20 earlier Sunday in the Georgia Dome. Seattle (13-3) is the No. 1 seed and will enjoy a bye week along with the Panthers.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees was sensational again, completing 24 of 31 passes for 381 yards, four touchdown passes and a 9-yard TD run. His passer rating of 157.4 was just a point away from a perfect score. Brees passed the 5,000-yard mark in the second quarter on a 41-yard TD pass to Robert Meachem. It's the fourth time in his career (2008, 2011, 2012) that he has passed for more than 5,000 yards in a season, most in NFL history. He finished the season with 5,162 yards and 39 TD passes.
Brees spread the wealth Sunday as four players caught his four TD passes (Lance Moore, Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills and Meachem). Running back Pierre Thomas added an 8-yard touchdown run to along with Brees' 9-yard scamper.
Colston led the team in receptions with six for 67 yards while Moore had four for 73 and Graham had five for 71 yards. Eleven players caught passes for the Saints.
Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon played well in defeat for the Bucs (4-12). He completed 22 of 41 for 219 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, a second-half interception by Keenan Lewis.
The Saints' defense turned in another superior athlete, holding Tampa's running game in check while frustrating the Bucs on third down (3 of 13). Tampa finished with just 290 yards of offense and the Bucs were penalized eight times for 78 yards.
Defensive end/linebacker Junior Galette had the Saints' two sacks and safety Roman Harper led the team with eight tackles while cornerback Corey White added six.
The Saints had three players rush for at least 20 yards - Khiry Robinson had 12 carries for 50 yards, Thomas had 20 yards on seven carries and Mark Ingram had three carries for 20 yards.