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NFC Wild Card: Lions 28 @ Saints 45 - Who Dat Say!?!


New Orleans Saints 45, Detroit Lions 28, and that's the final score in the Saints NFC Wild Card Game. How did it come to be? By outrunning, outpassing, outscoring, outpossessing, outmanning, outcoaching, outexecuting, outcheering, outrecordbreaking, outnotpunting, and just plain old outplaying the Lions.

Make the jump to read all the stories, watch all the videos, and pore through all the transcripts from the post-game coverage of the Saints Wild Card win over the Detroit Lions that sends them on to San Francisco for the NFC Divisional Playoffs next Saturday with a 4:30 EST kickoff against the 49ers.

And, let's go ahead and use this comment area for early discussion of the game until Dave's The View From... pops up later on today.

Lions vs Saints recap

Lions vs Saints box score

NFL Game Center: Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints|
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints NFL Game Center. Includes recap, stats, video highlights, play-by-play, drive charts, and the Official NFL Gamebook in pdf.

New Orleans Saints roar past the Detroit Lions in record fashion |
James Varney - Saints win in Wild Card round and will go to San Francisco next Saturday.

Piling it on | The Advocate
Sheldon Mickles - It took them a little while, but the New Orleans Saints got going at just the right time Saturday night.

Explosive Saints offense too much for wild card Lions in NFC playoffs |
Chris Seeman - The New Orleans Saints offense spent the entire regular season breaking records and opposing teams hearts while beating all who came at them in the Superdome.

New Orleans Air Show blasts Detroit 45-28 |
Bradley Handwerger - Once the Saints got past some of their own early mistakes, they were an unstoppable offensive force and the Lions just couldn't keep up.

Lions @ Sains: Photo Gallery |
Andrew Boyd, Rusty Costanza, Michael DeMocker, David Grunfeld.


From the Saints Sideline

New Orleans Saints are doing just fine with this season's pieces |
John DeShazier - The running back tandem is getting the job done.

Marques Colston shakes off early fumble, helps pace New Orleans Saints' pass attack |
Bob Marshall - Quick game notes from the Saints win against Detroit.

Drew Brees outplays Matthew Stafford as New Orleans Saints top the Detroit Lions |
Peter Finney - Brees threw for the second-most yards in NFL playoff history.

Saints offense keeps humming | The Advocate
Brian Allee-Walsh - "It’s like a video game.’’ Those are the words New Orleans Saints left guard Carl Nicks used to describe his team’s 45-28 demolition of the Detroit Lions in an NFC wildcard game Saturday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Lions just had to bow to the Saints | The Advocate
Scott Rabalais - As the game’s final moments melted away and the outcome was decided, Detroit defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch reached across the line to shake Drew Brees’ hand.

Saints win fifth straight playoff game in Dome | The Advocate
Sheldon Mickles - After losing the first three home playoff games in franchise history, the New Orleans Saints have won five consecutive games in the noisy confines of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Brees, Saints blast Detroit 45-28, set yardage record | The Advocate
Staff report - A season ago, a New Orleans Saints team lacking a running game was ousted by Seattle in the first round of the NFC playoffs.

New Orleans Saints set individual playoffs records against Detroit |
Kevin Spain - Quarterback Drew Brees keeps re-writing the record books.

New Orleans Saints set team playoff records against Detroit |
Kevin Spain - The Saints offense continues to be historic.

Saints Postgame Notes |
Staff report - Saints set an NFL postseason record with 626 yards Saturday night.

Saints RB Pierre Thomas earns his praises |
Bradley Handwerger - The difference between the Saints postseason of 2010 and this year’s playoff push is fairly easy to see.

Saints defense comes up big in wild card win over Lions |
Bradley Handwerger - The Saints came into Saturday night’s playoff game with only one question mark – could the defense hold up enough to give the offense a one series advantage.

Saints answer challenge, fling monkey off their back |
Bradley Handwerger - For once, Jabari Greer didn’t espouse clichés, didn’t bury the honesty that all athletes try to avoid weekly when speaking with reporters.

Wrap-up: Saints 45, Lions 28 - NFC South Blog |
Pat Y. - Thoughts on the New Orleans Saints' 45-28 victory against the Detroit Lions at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Saturday night.


From the Lion's Den

After coming out strong, Lions 45-28 playoff loss is a tough pill to swallow |
Tim Twentyman - Saturday's loss to the Saints in the first round of the playoffs was all about missed opportunities for the Lions, especially on defense.

After a disappointing playoff loss, these Lions are driven to get better and be back next year |
Chuck Klonke - The Lions achieved something this season that hadn't been accomplished in more than a decade.

Four Downs: an ill-timed whistle, run defense, injuries and missed opportunities |
Tim Twentyman - An ill-timed whistle by one of the officials Saturday night cost the Lions a defensive touchdown and a chance for a big momentum boost.

New Orleans 45, Detroit 28: Lions' trip to Big Easy ends in big hurt | Detroit Free Press
Mitch Albom - In the end, the defense broke down like a bayou jalopy, and one Saints receiver was so open, he had time to sprinkle sugar on his beignets before catching a bomb and scooting in for the touchdown.

Michael Rosenberg: Current Lions don't have '99 problems | Detroit Free Press
Michael Rosenberg - The last time the Lions made the playoffs, the most talked-about player on the team wasn't actually on the team.

Grading the Lions in playoff loss to Saints | Detroit Free Press
Dave Birkett hands out high marks for the offense and gets the red pen out for the defense.

Lions ticker: Decked out in Honolulu blue, fans endure heckling | Detroit Free Press
Carlos Monarrez - Josh Wright of Royal Oak awoke at 5 a.m. Saturday, boarded a flight from Detroit at 7 a.m., had a 3-hour layover in Philadelphia and landed in New Orleans at 1:30 p.m.

Time to hold Lions to a higher standard - NFC North Blog |
Kevin Seifert - Congratulations are in order for the Detroit Lions. Graduating from preschool is a momentous occasion for any young pup, and that is where I see the Lions now that their 2011 season is in the books.

Rapid Reaction: Saints 45, Lions 28 - NFC North Blog |
Kevin Seifert - A few thoughts on Saturday night's wild-card playoff game at the Superdome.



Saints coach Sean Payton goes for broke again -
Ashley Fox - "Run a play, run a play," a couple of Detroit Lions defensive players said. It was fourth-and-1 from the New Orleans 38-yard line.

Quick Take: Saints at 49ers - NFC South Blog |
Pat Y. - Three things to know about next Saturday's New Orleans Saints-San Francisco 49ers divisional playoff game.


Post-Game Quotes

Head Coach Sean Payton

"First off, we tip our hat to Detroit for coming in here and playing their guts out. We played a real good football team. Their staff and their players had a heck of a season. We know it's disappointing, but that is a good win for us. It was an especially good second half of football; we kind of bounced back and overcame some of the turnovers."

(On Pierre Thomas) "He had some good effort plays. I thought he played with good energy, he was balanced. There were a ton of yards after contact that he gave us tonight and that was impressive. He's healthy and we have a good rotation going with those three guys (Thomas, Ivory and Sproles). I was pleased with our balance. We overcame the turnovers in the first half and got back on track."

(On the yardage record) "We are just focused on winning. Really, we are not focused on yards and records. Honestly, I am being serious when I say it. The task at hand is to find a way to have a point more than the opponent. We made some big plays, especially in the second half and that was encouraging. We saw a defense that was very, very patient, sometimes that can be frustrating, but they sat in coverage and periodically would break that shell. I was pleased how we protected the ball in the second half and I thought the big plays in the second half really helped us. Regarding all that other stuff, it's really not important."

(On dialing it up in the second half) "In the first half two things happened, they did a good job of possessing the ball and we had two turnover so it seemed like our snap count was low. I think it was just a matter of having that balance. I thought the running game helped us tremendously and we had some play action we came off of it and took some shots."

(On the two fourth down plays) "It's just a gut that goes with it, the one was in our area and the other was across the 50. It's just a matter of really getting to a play we felt comfortable with and the willingness to take some risks. It's a sign of confidence we have in our line, our runners and QB and everyone else."

(On how vital the offensive line is) "I think you have to be good there in order to have the type of balance and success we had throwing and running. We played a good front. We felt coming in that one of the strengths of Detroit was that front four and they gave us some fits in the first half, you saw there were some times were Drew (Brees) was backing up or got sacked. As the game wore on, I thought we began to win more of those battles. The Lions have a real good front. Ultimately, at some point that battle up front decides who wins and loses."

(On the time of possession) "It didn't hurt. I think us being able to come out and we got those two and took the lead and then all of the sudden the time of possession shifted. It was really the tale of two halves if you were just watching the game. I thought Detroit played real well, forced the turnovers from us offensively, they made enough good play offensively and really had a pretty good control of the game and we were lucky enough to get that momentum back."

(On Jabari Greer) "He's had an exceptional season. He stayed healthy; he has real good ball skills and feet. He made some big plays tonight, obviously. It's a real good passing team we played so it's good to see him in this type of game come up with some real big plays for us. He's been very steady and very consistent."


(on Pierre Thomas) "I remember when Pierre came in the first year in 2007, undrafted free agent out of Illinois. He was probably fifth or sixth on the depth chart. I wasn't sure if he was going to make the team. If he did, he was going to have to make it on special teams. He played so well in the preseason, we had to keep him. We had no choice. He started off on special teams until the last game of the '07 season and got his first start against the Chicago Bears and got his first start because we had four or five running backs hurt and he rushes for over 100 and has over 100 receiving. That paints the picture of Pierre Thomas. He's taken advantage of every opportunity he's been given. Nothing's ever been handed to him. He's earned it. I've never played with a guy who's tougher, smarter, more versatile, just everything you'd want in a teammate. He's been a huge part of that backfield for the last five years. I've seen him play some great games, but tonight might have been one of the best I've seen him play. Rarely do I get a chance to sit back and watch because I'm always thinking about the next play, the next series, the next situation whatever it may be. You can't help but notice the way he ran tonight, shedding tacklers, it was phenomenal.

(on QB sneak) "It was fourth and inches. We felt like we had a rhythm going (offensively) and wanted to keep that going. It was a gutsy call. But, we've been known to make those types of calls and just felt like we could get it and we got it. We didn't even want to think about not getting it, because it would have put our defense in a tough spot. We had the momentum at that point and felt good about going for it.

(on having to travel to San Francisco and possibly Green Bay) "I feel like our offense and our team is built for whatever condition. We play indoors here in the Superdome and that's what we've been doing as of late, but we feel like we're the type of team that should be able to go anywhere, anytime, and play our type of football that we know how to play. There are elements at times you have to deal with no matter where it is, but we'll adjust accordingly. I don't see any reason why we can't go on and continue to be productive.

(on fumble) "That's always a close call. The arm was starting to come forward. I was trying to get it out, but he probably hit it before it started to come forward. It seemed like it was a good call.

(on if he heard a whistle at some point) "I felt like I did. I was on the ground. Everybody kind of stopped, so it seemed like everybody felt the play was blown dead."

(What does fourth-and-one and fourth-and-two say about Sean Payton's mentality) "We went for it on fourth down four times today. We were pulling out all the stops. We're not going to apologize for that. We always have. The guys in our huddle have a lot of confidence. We're not going to pull the reigns back. We're pedal to the metal. There are times when we're going to need to make plays and make gutsy calls and we have to make them work."

(Did you go and reassure Jimmy Graham after a drop) "Jimmy knows I'll be back to him all the time. I don't remember him dropping one to be honest with you. All our guys have been here long enough now where we know the opportunity is going to be there. There might be a time I might miss one or they miss one. We'll always come back, as we know there are plays to be made."

(On the play of the offensive line) "The o-line did a phenomenal job today blocking, as they have all season long. That's a great group. They work so hard and take so much pride in keeping me clean. They're a multi-dimensional offensive line. They don't just pass block, but it's run-blocking. It's everything. They're so versatile and take so much pride in it. They balance they are able to create is because of that offensive line."

(Do you feel like you're better than 2009) "I think each day you get more confidence as you continue on, especially like when you're playing like you are, there's no reason not to be. We respect every opponent we face. At times it may look easy there, but it isn't. A lot goes into it from a preparation standpoint, the timing, the practice. You name it and we work very hard at it and we take great pride in being able to go out and play like we did today with the exception of the turnovers, to be balanced, to spread it around. We're trying to make our mark with this offense. I think everybody feels like they're a big part of it.

(on long second-half drives) "It's a good point. Not just were the points important, but you keep your defense off the field for a period of time. You go on a 14-play drive, over 90 yards, those are big drives. Not only are you moving the ball, but you're resting the defense and you're chewing up clock. In both of those cases it was either taking the lead or extending the lead. Those were big drives in the game.

(On if the objective was to keep Thomas Morstead on the sidelines) "I always tell Morstead lots of kickoffs, not a lot of punts. That's what we like to do around here.

(on Matthew Stafford) "I think he played phenomenal today. I really do. Especially, =early on, just coming in this hostile environment, calm, cool, especially the first couple drives. He really did a great job in converting some long third downs and making some tight throws. He's had a great year. Obviously I thought he played great today. But, the future looks bright for him.

(on Lions) "I absolutely think they are a playoff-caliber team. I have a lot of respect for their coaching staff and their players. They had a great season. They showed a lot of grit in a lot of comeback victories. They seem to be a real tough team at home when you watch them on film. The crowd noise and d-line teeing off on people. I'm sure because they're in the NFC, we'll be facing those guys again in the near future.

(on BCS Championship Game) "I've got to go with LSU again. Obviously, they're the local team right down the road here. I picked them in the first matchup.


(On staying on his feet and maintaining balance tonight) "I don't really think about it too much. I always tell myself to not let the first guy take me down. I try to break as many tackles as I can and get in that end zone. Everyone tells me that I have freaky balance, but it's the gift that God gave me."

(On tonight's playoff win after missing last year's game) "It was very sweet. I'm blessed to continue my career after my injury. I just keep fighting. I'm been pushing and my teammates have my back. I don't even think about the injury. I just go out and keep playing. After last year, this win was great not only for me, but the whole team."

"It's playoffs. Like I told a lot of guys, when playoffs hit, you've got to be a totally different animal. It's win or go home"


(On what he saw from the defense) "A lot of cover two. We knew we wanted to split them. That's what we wanted to do on offense."

(On record for most yards in a postseason game) "That's special. There have been a lot of good teams in this league. For us to get the record for yards, that's special."

(On the turning point) "I think it was when we came out of half and we scored. That's what I think the turning point was."

(On the 49ers) "They have a great defense. We have to get ready for them. We are going to get back to the drawing board this week and we will get ready for them."

(On traveling to San Francisco) "We like play on grass instead of turf as well so it will be alright."


"We knew playing against Detroit, we couldn't turn the ball over, and I went out the first possession and did it. To come back and do what we did the second half, I'm just proud to be part of a team like this.

(On the importance of scoring a touchdown coming out of halftime) "It was huge. We knew that going into halftime with the two turnovers that it could have been a totally different situation for us. We knew going into the locker room that we were down by four and were getting the ball. We had a confident feeling that we were going to go out and do what we needed to do in the second half."

(on using loss to Seattle as motivation this week) "We can stop hearing about it now. I don't think it was an issue for this team. This is a totally different team, a totally different mindset. I think we can stop hearing about it now.

"The teams that can run the ball and have balance on offense are the teams that advance year in and year out. San Francisco's been playing well all year, but we're hitting our stride.

"It's going to be a situation where we've seen both sides of the coin. I just think that the experience is going to bode well for us, making this road trip.

(on Drew Brees) "He's definitely playing at an extremely high level for us. He comes to work day in and day out and tries to get better on a daily better. That's what you see on the field.

(On his confidence currently) "It's a very high confidence level. It also has to do with a lot with the guys around me. I do my part. The other guys on the feel do their part and we know that we are going to be successful."


(On the difference between half) "I think the running game early on was opening the passing game for us. I think we took advantage of that."

(On Detroit rallying) "I think, overall, that is the type of team is that is one play away. They have Calvin Johnson, just throw him up a deep ball and you never know what is going to happen. We had to put up some points to be safe with these guys."

(On the offense being labeled a finesse offense) "I think that we have a real good backfield. The guys run the ball real well. When we get the running game going, good things always happen. I wouldn't say we are finesse team. We have a great passing game. We have great guys out there making plays. We can do it either way, running the ball and getting those key blocks or with the passing game."

(On LSU vs. Alabama) "I feel pretty confident about Monday night. I will be in the building. Hopefully my Tigers will come to play. If that's the case, hopefully it will be an easy win."

(On having tough matchups) "Every time you get to the playoffs, it gets tougher and tougher. You have just have to sharpen your play. This is a really good team. They have some good things going. We knew it wasn't going to be easy. We have to play ball, play within ourselves, and we did a good job."


(on going against Detroit DL) "I think I did a decent job. Our whole goal was to protect Drew and run the ball. Next week is going to be even harder. Those guys out there (San Francisco), they're killing it. We're going to have to go into A-plus-plus mode.

(will 49ers line present an even bigger challenge in getting to the second level?) "You have to get there first, because I know I'll be going against Justin Smith. He's a big dude. Patrick Willis and that young rookie (Aldon Smith), who is just tearing things up out there. We're just going to have to do a lot of film study, try to find some weaknesses in their game and try to capitalize on them."

(on if this game helps them move past the Seattle playoff loss last year) "The guys that have been here that lost that game, it definitely hurts and left a sour taste in our mouth. To get out of the first round and not lose when you were supposed to win is a good feeling, but we have a long way to go.

(At the beginning of the season, you had a plan. Are you following that plan still) "It would have been good to have a bye. Sometimes it doesn't work out like that. We're rolling. We just take it one game at a time, that's how we live out here. We try to get a W against the San Francisco 49ers."


(On defending Calvin Johnson) "He's a big guy. I'm feeling the repercussions from that. He caught some balls. He got his. He made some plays. But at the end of the game, we came out with the win. We were able to minimize some big shots.

(On the play in the second half after being down) "It was perserverance. We came in at halftime and knew that we had an opportunity. We have been in that situation before. The guys in the locker room put a lot of work and effort into everything that they do. It wasn't our first time being down at halftime."


Lions Postgame Quotes

Head Coach Jim Schwartz

(On if it's difficult to reflect on the season after a loss) "I'm not reflecting on the season today."

(On if not taking advantage of the turnovers early in the game hurt) "Take advantage of the turnovers? We had 80 yards ahead of us after the turnovers. It wasn't like we were getting them at (their) 20 yard line."

(On the Saints' offense and the Lions' inability to capitalize when necessary) "Well, there is no question that they are a good team. They're 13-3, scoring 44 points a game (the last three weeks), and undefeated at home. There is no question that they are a good team, but when you face a team like that, you can't give them second opportunities.

"This is obviously a high-powered offense, so you need to take advantage of every opportunity that you get. In the first half, we were able to do that. There were a couple of times in the first half when we were able to do that. Too many other times we didn't take advantage of the opportunities"

(On missed opportunities) "That game had everything to do with missed opportunities on defense. (There were) three dropped picks, that all take points off of the board. (There were) two failed fourth downs. That's it. When you face a team like that, you have to be able to take advantage of those opportunities. You've got to be able to get off of the field on the third downs and the fourth downs. We were awful on third and fourth down. We dropped chances to make interceptions."

(On reasons for the loss) "We missed opportunities to make interceptions. We failed on third and fourth downs, and we tackled poorly, too. (We gave up 35) points in the second half."

(On if he thought the team could pressure Drew Brees more) "I think that they do a lot of things to take pressure away. I thought that we were getting good inside pressure, forcing (him) into some errant throws. We didn't take advantage of the errant throws. The officials took the approach of letting them play."


"We came into the game confident. For everyone in the locker room it was our first playoff game. We learned a whole lot. We learned that we need to win our division so the next time we can have a home game and benefit from our home crowd like the Saints did here tonight. That's a huge difference.

"Watching Drew Brees and their offense is really impressive. They put up a lot of points on us in the second half and we just couldn't stop them. I mean it was a three point game until they scored touchdowns in succession and that was the difference in the game.

"We have a great team. We have a lot of young guys and we will be back. I am sure we will make regular appearances in the playoffs from this point forward. Tonight was a learning experience. It hurts, that's for sure, but I like the direction our team is going in."


"Our defense was on the field for a long time in the second half and that was the difference in the game. The Saints are real good. They have a lot of firepower. Their offense really took it to us - especially in the second half.

"We did make the playoffs this year and that's a great accomplishment. We have some things to work on and we will in the off season. We know what we have to do to make the next step. We feel we have a chance to get into the playoffs each year.

"They didn't do a lot of things different to me from the first time we played them. They throw a lot at you defensively. And tonight I was able to get open a lot more and make plays. I felt in the first half we were moving the ball well and hanging with them. And we felt very confident coming back here to play them again. The first game we had a great chance to win the game. But we made too many mistakes in the first game, mostly from penalties. All week we looked forward to coming back here and playing the Saints."


"We felt like we moved the ball on them; especially in the first half. But in the playoffs you have to find a way to win. And in the end we just couldn't stop their offense."

"Anytime you get this late in the season it's all about execution. I felt like we matched up well again them both times. But it was a matter of execution. Our team is really hungry, but right now we are a little wounded. A loss like this hurts. Anytime you get to this point in the season you don't want it to end this way. But I will say we will come back hungrier and better next season. You learn from a loss like this."


"For everyone in here it was our first playoff game. And while we didn't like the way it ended we learned a whole lot. The Saints are a great team. We have a lot of young guys on our team. We just have to learn from this experience and come back to camp and play better next season.

"We got a lot of pressure on him (Brees) in the first half. But in the second they made adjustments and we couldn't stop them. You have to give them all the credit."


"It was a tough loss for us. One thing's for sure; a game like this will make all of us in this locker room work harder for our team to get better. We know we have a special group of people on this team."

"It wasn't like we played bad defense out there. But we just didn't stop them on third down and on two occasions fourth down in the second half and that was the difference. A loss like this makes us want to return to the playoffs even more. It will be no surprise to everyone when the Detroit Lions start to make the playoffs each and every year."


V-Roll Roll Call

Press Conference Video: Payton, Brees and Colston Talk About the Win |
Saints react following 45-28 win over the Lions. Saints video page includes full-game highlight package and individual plays.