Saints, Texans Win to Advance to NFL’s Divisional Playoffs

Drew Brees threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns to lead the New Orleans Saints’ record-setting offense to a 45-28 win over the Detroit Lions in a National Football Conference wild-card game.

In an earlier American Football Conference game yesterday, the Houston Texans defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 31-10 to advance to the divisional playoffs against the Baltimore Ravens on Jan. 15. The Saints will travel to San Francisco to play the 49ers on Jan. 14.

The Atlanta Falcons (10-6) visit the New York Giants (9-7) in an NFC playoff game today, and the Denver Broncos (8-8) host the Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC contest.

The Saints accumulated 626 total yards to break the league record for a postseason game held by the San Diego Chargers, who recorded 610 yards on Jan. 14, 1964.

New Orleans was behind 14-10 at halftime, scoring on Darren Sproles 2-yard run and John Kasay’s 24-yard field goal.

“What stopped us in the first half were those turnovers,” Brees said in a televised postgame interview. “Going into the locker room, we said we had to bear down on one play at a time and one drive at a time. I think we scored on every drive in the second half.”

Two minutes into the third quarter, Brees completed a 41-yard pass to Devery Henderson and a 3-yard pass to Jimmy Graham for a touchdown at 4:03.

Team That Believes

In the final quarter, Sproles ran 17 yards for a touchdown, Robert Meachem scored on a 56-yard pass from Brees and Pierre Thomas plunged one yard for a score.

The Lions last made the playoffs in 1999 and last won a playoff game in 1991.

Matthew Stafford completed 28 of 43 passing attempts for 380 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions for the Lions.

At Reliant Stadium in Houston, the Texans’ Arian Foster carried 24 times for 153 yards for two touchdowns, including an 8-yard run to tie the score at 7-7 in the first quarter. He added a second score on a 42-yard run in the final quarter.

“This team believes,” Foster said in a post-game interview. “I’ve never been on a team like this. We don’t need anyone else to believe because we believe in ourselves.”

T.J. Yates completed 11 of 20 passing attempts for 159 yards and one touchdown. He completed a 40-yard pass to Andre Johnson in the third quarter to widen Houston’s lead to 24-10.

“The way we ran the ball today, it will be hard to stop us in the playoffs,” Yates said. “We did a good job moving the ball up and down the field all day.”

Andy Dalton connected on 27 of 42 passing attempts for 257 yards and three interceptions, the last of which set up Foster’s fourth-quarter touchdown.

Cedric Benson put the Bengals ahead 7-0 on a 1-yard run in the first quarter. Mike Nugent kicked a 37-yard field goal midway through the second for Cincinnati’s final score.

Neil Rackers kicked a 39-yard field goal with less than two minutes left in the half to tie the score and J.J. Watt returned a 29-yard interception to give the Texans a 17-10 halftime lead.

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