Saints march­ing in as Ea­gles bow out

New Or­leans de­feats Philadel­phia, will take on Rams for NFC ti­tle

Albany Times Union - - SPORTS -

When the New Or­leans Saints fi­nally found their rhythm, they marched one step closer to the Su­per Bowl.

Us­ing a dom­i­nant ball-con­trol of­fense and a few gam­bles that paid off, the Saints got two touch­down passes from Drew Brees and two in­ter­cep­tions from Mar­cus Lat­ti­more in a 2014 vic­tory over the Philadel­phia Ea­gles.

Brees took the Saints on scor­ing drives of 92, 79 and 67 yards af­ter fall­ing be­hind 14-0. Lat­ti­more clinched it when Nick Foles’ pass from the Saints 27 de­flected off re­ceiver Al­shon Jef­fery with about two min­utes re­main­ing. A cou­ple dozen Saints play­ers surged off the side­line to­ward the end zone in cel­e­bra­tion, while Jef­fery fell face-first to the turf in agony.

New Or­leans (14-3) will host the NFC ti­tle game next week against the Rams (13-4). Los An­ge­les, which fell 45-35 at the Su­per­dome in Novem­ber, will try again next week, with the win­ner go­ing to the Su­per Bowl. The Saints’ win fin­ished off a

sweep of the di­vi­sional round by teams com­ing off byes.

Wil Lutz added two field goals for the Saints, who last got this far in 2009, when they won the Su­per Bowl.

Philadel­phia (10-8) will not re­peat as NFL cham­pion; no team has done so since the 2004 Pa­tri­ots.

This was re­ally two games in one. Philly scored on its first two drives as the Saints could do vir­tu­ally noth­ing right.

“Lis­ten, they got off to a fast start. They’re a great team,” Brees said. “Nick Foles has done a phe­nom­e­nal job for them. We knew it was go­ing to be dif­fer­ent than last time.”

Af­ter that open­ing pe­riod, it was all New Or­leans, yet the re­silient Ea­gles kept it close enough that when Lutz missed a 52-yard field goal with 2:58 re­main­ing, they were only one-score be­hind.

Foles, the hero of last year’s Su­per Bowl run, got them in po­si­tion for yet an­other late win­ning score —just like last week at Chicago and last Fe­bru­ary against New Eng­land for the cham­pi­onship.

Then, Jef­fery couldn’t han­dle a sec­ond-down pass, and it was over.

“That’s a great cham­pi­onship team,” Saints coach Sean Pay­ton said of the Ea­gles. “We re­mained con­fi­dent.”

Brees had 2-yard touch­down passes to Keith Kirk­wood and Michael Thomas, who had 12 re­cep­tions for 171 yards.

New Or­leans, which routed Philadel­phia 48-7 in Novem­ber, gam­bled on its first play — and lost. Brees was a bit short on a deep pass to Ted Ginn Jr., and it was picked off by Cre’von Leblanc.

“I just think we had to find our rhythm,” Brees said. “I tried to take a shot on the first play. Un­for­tu­nately, that didn’t work.”

Af­ter the first quar­ter, though, a lot worked for New Or­leans.

Foles com­pleted all five throws on a 76-yard drive capped by Jor­dan Matthews’ 37-yard TD catch. Not long af­ter, a 75-yard drive high­lighted by a 30yard pass to Jef­fery ended with Foles’ short leap over the goal line for a 14-0 edge.

The vis­i­tors were in con­trol un­til Lat­ti­more picked off Foles’ deep throw to Zach Ertz.

The Saints faked a punt at their 30, with Taysom Hill run­ning 4 yards for a first down. They also went on fourth-and-goal from the 2, and Philadel­phia sur­ren­dered Kirk­wood’s 2-yard touch­down.

New Or­leans crept to 14-10 at half­time on Lutz’s 45-yard field goal.

Ger­ald Her­bert / As­so­ci­ated Press

Saints quar­ter­back Drew Brees was in­ter­cepted on his first play from scrim­mage, but threw two touch­down passes to help de­feat the Ea­gles.

Chris Graythen / Getty im­ages

Alvin Ka­mara of the Saints car­ries the ball as the ea­gles’ ra­sul dou­glas at­tempts to stop him.

Jonathan Bach­man / Getty im­ages

the Saints’ marshon Lat­ti­more in­ter­cepts a pass to Zach ertz of the ea­gles.

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