Saints rally past Ea­gles, will host NFC ti­tle game

The News & Observer - - Sports -

The New Or­leans Saints got two touch­down passes from Drew Brees, two in­ter­cep­tions by Mar­cus Lat­ti­more, and ral­lied from a 14-point deficit to beat the Philadel­phia Ea­gles 20-14 Sun­day to ad­vance to the NFC cham­pi­onship game.

Us­ing a dom­i­nant ball­con­trol of­fense af­ter a hor­ren­dous start, Brees took the Saints (14-3) on scor­ing drives of 92, 79 and 67 yards. And a few gam­bles paid off to as­sure New Or­leans will host the Rams (13-4) next Sun­day for a spot in the Su­per Bowl.

Los An­ge­les, which fell 45-35 at the Su­per­dome in Novem­ber, will try again, with the win­ner tak­ing on ei­ther Kansas City or New Eng­land in the Su­per Bowl in At­lanta. 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.

Saints start­ing de­fen­sive tackle Shel­don Rank­ins and Ea­gles right guard Bran­don Brooks each had leg in­juries within a few plays of one an­other, and each was taken from the field in a cart dur­ing the first quar­ter.

The in­juries mounted even more for Philadel­phia in the sec­ond quar­ter, al­beit tem­po­rar­ily, when de­fen­sive back Ra­sul Dou­glas, de­fen­sive tackle Fletcher Cox and de­fen­sive end Michael Ben­nett all came off the field need­ing at­ten­tion. The Ea­gles an­nounced that Dou­glas in­jured an ankle, but he re­turned. Cox and Ben­nett also both re­turned late in the first half.

BILL FEIG AP

New Or­leans Saints wide re­ceiver Michael Thomas pulls in a touch­down re­cep­tion against Philadel­phia Ea­gles cor­ner­back Cre'von LeBlanc in the sec­ond half Sun­day.

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