Seahawks will host Saints in divisional playoff game

Posted Jan 4, 2014

When Shayne Graham kicked a 32-yard field goal on the final play of the game to give the Saints a 26-24 wild-card victory over the Eagles on Saturday night, it sent New Orleans back to Seattle for a divisional-round game against the Seahawks next Saturday.

With one swing of his right leg, Shayne Graham kicked the New Orleans Saints into the divisional round of the 2013 NFL playoffs and all the way back to Seattle.

It was Graham’s 32-yard field goal on the final play of the game Saturday night that lifted the Saints to a 26-24 victory over the NFC East champion Eagles in wild-card game in Philadelphia. As the No. 6 seed in the NFC, despite their 11-5 record during the regular season, the Saints will play the top-seeded Seahawks at CenturyLink Field next Saturday at 1:35 p.m.

“It’s loud, it's crazy, they've got a good thing going there," Saints QB Brees told reporters after the game when asked about facing the Seahawks next Saturday.

It will be a return trip to Seattle for Graham, Brees and the Saints, who won their first road playoff game after entering Saturday night’s game 0-5 away from the Big Easy in the postseason.

Graham was with the Seahawks during training camp and the preseason in 2001, before being released on the final roster cut. Since then, he has kicked for 12 other NFL teams – the Panthers, Bengals, Ravens (twice), Giants, Patriots, Redskins, Cowboys, Vikings, Texans, Browns, Steelers and, for the past two-plus weeks, the Saints.

In addition to his game-winner, Graham also kicked 36- and 46-yard field goals in the first half, when the Eagles led 7-6 before the Saints scored touchdowns on their first two possessions of the second half to take a 20-7 lead.

The Saints, meanwhile, played at CenturyLink Field on “Monday Night Football” in Week 13 this season, when they lost to the Seahawks 34-7. The Saints also played in Seattle in the 2010 playoffs, when the Seahawks upset the defending Super Bowl champions 41-36 in a wild-card game.

In that Dec. 2 game this season, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson passed for 310 yards and three touchdowns and also was the team’s leading rusher with 47 yards. The NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense limited the Saints to 188 yards and their lowest point total of the season – 44 rushing and 147 passing by Brees – while defensive lineman Michael Bennett returned a fumble 22 yards for a touchdown.

Saturday night, it was the Saints’ defense that gave the Eagles problems. LeSean McCoy, who led NFL with 1,476 rushing yards and averaged 5.1 yards per carry during the regular season, had 77 yards on 21 carries for a 3.7-yard average. DeSean Jackson, who caught 79 passes for 1,304 yards and nine touchdowns during the regular season, had three catches for 53 yards.

Brees, meanwhile, was 20 of 30 for 250 yards against the Eagles. After throwing two interceptions in the first half, he led 53- and 66-yard drives to open the second half that ended in his 23-yard TD pass to Lance Moore and a 4-yard TD run by Mark Ingram – who got more than his usual share of carries because leading rusher Pierre Thomas was out with a rib injury. The Eagles rallied to take a 24-22 lead with 4:54 remaining, but Brees then led the drive to Graham’s game-winner by running for first downs twice on third-and-short plays.

“We know what we're all about," Brees said. “This was a great testament to that. Coming on the road, hostile environment, great team, one of the hottest teams in football and getting one of those big victories.”

Here’s a closer look at the 2013 Saints:

New Orleans Saints

Record: 11-5

Seed: No. 6, as the second wild-card team

They’ll play Seahawks because: They beat the No. 3 seed Eagles in Philadelphia and are the lowest-seeded survivor from the wild-card round

Road record: 3-5, including losses in their last three road games

Where they ranked: No. 4 on offense (25th rushing, 2nd passing); No. 4 on defense (19th rushing, 2nd passing)

Worth noting: The Saints were 0-5 on the road in the playoffs before Saturday night. … The Saints were 8-0 at home this season, including victories over the playoff-bound 49ers and Panthers. But they lost on the road to the New York Jets (8-8) and St. Louis Rams (7-9) and beat the Atlanta Falcons (4-12) by four points and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) by two points.

Most recent game in Seattle: A 34-7 loss in Week 13 on “Monday Night Football,” as Russell Wilson passed for 310 yards and three touchdowns and also was the Seahawks’ leading rusher with 47 yards. The Seahawks’ No. 1-ranked defense limited the Saints to 188 yards – 44 rushing and 147 passing by QB Drew Brees.