The New Orleans Saints, at home in the Superdome, overcame a 14-point first quarter deficit as Drew Brees threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns to help lift the hosts to a 20-14 win over the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night.
The Saints had been 14-0 down after just ten minutes, with Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles throwing two touchdowns.
But the NFC’s number 1 team rallied and eventually took the lead in the third quarter.
Saints quarterback Brees recovered from an interception on his first pass to throw two touchdowns, including what turned out to be the winning score as he found Michael Thomas from two yards.
Wil Lutz, who extended the Saints’ lead to 20-14 with a 39-yard field goal, missed a 52-yard attempt with just under three minutes remaining, keeping the Eagles in touch.
But Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore came up with his second huge interception of the game with the Eagles driving toward a potential score. He intercepted a Foles pass – which went through the hands of Alshon Jeffery – with just under two minutes remaining on the clock and running back Alvin Kamara ran for 12 yards on third-and-10 to kill the clock.
“Obviously we didn’t start this game the way we wanted to,” said 39-year-old Brees, who was named most valuable player the last time the Saints won the Super Bowl in 2009.
“They jumped out to a 14-point lead. We were calm, we were poised, we knew we’re going to get things going.”
Saints head coach Sean Payton added: “It wasn’t a perfect game. There’s a lot of things we have to clean up. But we got the win against the defending champions, and that means a lot. We’ve played from behind quite a bit in the regular season, and we’ve been able to come back.”
The number 1 seeded Saints now advance to the NFC Championship Game next Sunday afternoon in an exciting matchup against the number 2 seed Los Angeles Rams at the Superdome.
While the Saints victory came at a great cost, as one of their best young defensive linemen Sheldon Rankins tore his Achilles tendon early in the game. Thus ending his season and hope of playing in a Super Bowl. That is a problem for the Saints, who may find Rankins difficult to replace, especially against a super offence of the Rams including Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson.
As for the Eagles, while Foles wasn’t the reason for the Eagles loss, the final interception brought an end to his impressive second act of his Eagles career. However, Sunday’s game could likely have been Foles’ last as an Eagle. Realistically, it doesn’t make sense for the Eagles to carry a $20 million backup, and the draft-pick investment in Carson Wentz makes it unlikely they’d install Foles as the starter ahead of him.