METAIRIE, La. (AP) — With a trip to Seattle looming, the New Orleans Saints gained more confidence from the first road playoff win in franchise history than Saturday's 26-24 margin at Philadelphia indicated.
Before kicker Shayne Graham connected on a 32-yard field goal as time ran out, the Saints dominated the Eagles statistically.
"Certainly when you watch the tape, the score could have been a lot bigger on our part," coach Sean Payton said Sunday. "It was a great team win."
Specifically, Payton pointed to New Orleans' nearly 10-minute edge in time of possession, converting seven of 13 third downs compared to the Eagles' three of 12, its 185-80 advantage in rushing yards and its 434-256 domination in total yards.
Philadelphia, which had won seven of its last eight to claim the NFC East, entered as the NFL's leading rushing team, averaging 160.4 yards. The Saints held LeSean McCoy, who had a league-high 1,607 yards in the regular season, to 77 yards on 21 carries with a long gain of 11.
"We tackled well and pursued to the ball," Payton said. "We really felt that was going to be important. He's such an exceptional player and has the ability to cut back. Your angles and gap integrity have to be really good because it might start out going right, then all of a sudden, it ends up all the way around the left end."
Conversely, New Orleans ran right at a Philadelphia defense that had limited five consecutive opponents to fewer than 100 rushing yards. The Saints' number of carries (36) and yards were higher than in all but one regular-season game, and they rushed for 54 more yards than their second-best total.
On their final drive, Drew Brees threw one pass while the Saints ran eight times, getting three first downs to move from the Philadelphia 48 to the 14.
"We controlled both lines of scrimmage," Payton said. "When you do that, you have a good chance of winning."
That advantage allowed New Orleans to overcome two interceptions by Brees in the first half and become a rare team to win on the road in the playoffs while losing the turnover battle.