Flawless second half helps Saints advance
January, 8, 2012
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireDrew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are headed to the NFC Divisional Round after Saturday’s 45-28 win against the Detroit Lions.
Drew Brees completed 33 of 43 attempts for 466 yards -- the second-most in postseason history (Bernie Kosar had 489 in an overtime game in 1986) and the most in a playoff regulation game -- with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Saints tied a franchise playoff record with 45 points, gaining an NFL playoff-record 626 total yards.
For the Lions, Calvin Johnson caught 12 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns in the loss, becoming just the third player since the merger with 200 receiving yards and two touchdown catches in a playoff game.
WHY THEY WON
The Saints offense overwhelmed the Lions in the second half. Of their 626 total yards, 370 came in the second stanza, or put differently, just 42 yards fewer than the Lions had for the game.
In addition the Brees, New Orleans ran the ball effectively, rolling up 167 yards on the ground. That included a season-high 92 yards after contact.
And for the most part, the Saints have simply been hard to stop at home.
The Saints have won five straight home playoff games, and have scored at least 31 points in each of their past five playoff games. Including the postseason, the Saints have scored at least 30 points in eight of nine home games this season.
The second half. The Saints scored touchdowns on each of their first five possessions in the second half, and ran out the clock on their sixth drive of the half.
WHY THEY LOST
The Lions entered halftime with a three-point lead, but it could have been more had they capitalized on New Orleans' two first-half turnovers.
But on each of New Orleans' two fumbles, the Lions came up empty, even going three-and-out following the second Saints turnover.
STAT OF THE GAME
A total of four playoff records were set in Saturday's tilt between the Lions and Saints: most passing yards in regulation game (Drew Brees, 446), most yards by one team (Saints, 626), most combined passing yards (846 by Brees and Stafford), and (courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau) most receiving yards in a playoff debut (Calvin Johnson, 211).
Awaiting the Saints in the NFC Divisional Round are the San Francisco 49ers, owners of a similar 13-3 regular-season record.
For the Saints to advance to their third NFC Championship Game in six seasons, they'll have to do something they've never done before -- win a true road playoff game.
These teams have never met in the playoffs before. The Saints currently own a six-game win streak in the series dating back to 2002.
In their last meeting, back on Sept. 20, 2010, the Saints eked out a 25-22 win courtesy of a Garrett Hartley 37-yard field goal as time expired.