Saints Win In Playoffs, Defeat Lions, 45-28
The New Orleans Saints took their first step toward a possible Super Bowl berth on Saturday night, defeating the Detroit Lions, 45-28, in an NFC Wild-Card Playoff game, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Saints piled up 626 yards of total offense, including 370 yards in the second half alone.
Detroit drew first blood, taking the opening kick-off, and driving 80 yards, on eight plays, in 4:02 for a touchdown.
The scoring drive was capped-off when quarterback Matthew Stafford hit tight end Will Heller with a 10-yard touchdown pass, giving the Lions an early 7-0 lead.
Neither team was able to score the rest of the quarter, and the Lions had a touchdown lead at the end of the initial quarter.
The Saints were able to tie the game three plays into the second quarter, when running back Darren Sproles capped-off an 11-play, 89 yard drive, that took 5:19 off the clock, with 2-yard touchdown run, making the score 7-7.
The Lions were able to answer on their very next possession, going on a 9-play, 87-yard drive that was highlighted by a 13-yard touchdown pass from Stafford to receiver Calvin Johnson, giving them a 14-7 lead at the 9:11 mark of the second quarter.
New Orleans drew closer, and scored on the last play of the first half, courtesy of a 24-yard field goal by John Kasay, capping off a 14-play, 78-yard drive, that took 5:03 off the clock, and made the score 14-10, in favor of Detroit, at the half.
Brees was 17-of-21 for 174 yards through the air in the first half, and the Saints were able to out-gain the Lions, 256-210, in terms of total offense, but New Orleans hurt themselves by turning the football over twice, with fumbles.
Stafford had a great first half for Detroit, completing 14-of-22 passes, for 180 yards, with two touchdowns, and no interceptions.
The Saints went in front for the first time on the initial possession of the second half, as Brees hit receiver Devery Henderson with a 41-yard touchdown pass, capping off a 4-play, 78-yard drive, and took a 17-14 lead at the 13:09 mark of the third quarter.
New Orleans extended their lead to 24-14 at the 4:03 mark of the third quarter, when Bress threw his second touchdown pass of the period, a 3-yarder to tight end Jimmy Graham, at the conclusion of a 13-play, 92-yard drive, that took 6:27 off the clock.
Detroit got on the board for the first time in the half, as they proceeded to go 80 yards on eight plays on the very next possession, and after Stafford scored on a 1-yard touchdown run, the Saints led it 24-21, at the 1:08 mark of the third quarter.
That ended the third quarter scoring, and the Saints had the lead, 24-21, going into the final frame.
The Saints opened the fourth quarter with a touchdown on their first possession of the quarter, this one on a 17-yard run from Sproles, his second of the night, to give them a 31-21 advantage, at the 9:53 mark of the final quarter.
New Orleans then put the game out of reach at the 7:29 mark of the fourth quarter, when Brees threw his third touchdown pass of the game, a 56-yarder to Robert Meachem, giving them a 38-21 lead.
The Lions scored another touchdown at the 4:45 mark of the fourth quarter, on a 12-yard touchdown pass by Stafford to Johnson, to cut the Saints' lead to 38-28, but it was too little, too little.
New Orleans added a late score, on a Pierre Thomas 1-yard plunge, and wrapped-up the scoring at the 3:36 mark, as the Saints advanced with the 17-point victory.
The Saints wound up out-gaining the Lions, 626-412, in terms of total offense, including a 167-32 advantage in the rushing department.
Brees finished 33-of-43 for 466 yards, with three touchdowns, and no interceptions.
On the ground, Sproles, along with Thomas, and Chris Ivory combined for 164 yards, and three touchdowns, on 31 carries.
In the receiving department, Marques Colston finished with seven catches, for 120 yards.
For Detroit, Stafford finished 28-of-43, for 380 yards, with three touchdowns, and two interceptions.
His favorite target on the night was Johnson, who had 12 receptions, for 211 yards, and two scores.
The win kept New Orleans unbeaten at home this year, in nine game.
Counting this playoff game, the Saints improve to 14-3, while the Lions end their season at 10-7.
The Saints move on to take on the San Francisco 49ers, in San Francisco, California, on Saturday, January 14, in the NFC Divisional round.
View the game box score, courtesy of ESPN.com.