NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Saints completed all that they may within the common season — with one recreation left to play.
In consequence, they’re as properly positioned as they could possibly be to perform every thing they’ll within the postseason.
They got here from behind late within the fourth quarter to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-28, on Sunday within the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
They improved to 13-2 and clinched the No. 1 seed within the NFC playoffs.
They will relaxation anybody they select to relaxation in opposition to Carolina within the regular-season finale within the Superdome as a result of the result will not change something apart from their last document. (Although a 14th win can be a franchise document).
They may have a first-round playoff bye, which means their first playoff recreation will not be till both Jan. 12 or 13 within the Superdome. In the event that they win that recreation, they may host the NFC Championship on Jan. 20.
“It is onerous to safe the No. 1 seed,” quarterback Drew Brees mentioned. “Realizing that we have accomplished it and understanding that the street comes by New Orleans, that provides us loads of confidence.”
The Saints got here from behind to win for the third time in as many video games, having accomplished so at Carolina six days earlier and at Tampa Bay eight days earlier than that.
The Steelers (Eight-6-1) took the lead for the primary time within the third quarter and had a 28-24 edge early within the fourth quarter.
Outdoors of a kneel-down to finish the primary half, that they had scored touchdowns on every of their final three possessions, driving a mixed 238 yards.
On third-and-2 on the New Orleans 34, Kurt Coleman compelled a fumble by Stevan Ridley and Alex Okafor recovered for the Saints.
New Orleans drove to the Pittsburgh 32 earlier than stalling. The Steelers blocked a 50-yard field-goal try by Wil Lutz, who earlier set a franchise document by making his 26th consecutive kick, and took over at their 37 with 6:13 left.
On fourth-and-5 from their 42, coach Mike Tomlin selected to faux a punt and Craig Robertson and Chris Banjo stopped Roosevelt Nix simply wanting the primary down.
“I simply needed to be aggressive,” Tomlin mentioned. “I needed to make sure that we had a chance to win the sport. I appreciated the play. The place the sport was and the time that was left I assumed that if we didn’t cease them, that we’d have the chance to have the ball final. We did — clearly unsuccessful.”
The Saints slowly superior the ball and on fourth-and-2, Drew Brees’ cross to Michael Thomas fell incomplete however a pass-interference penalty on Joe Haden gave New Orleans a primary down on the 22.
New Orleans overcame a holding penalty on Ryan Ramczyk and a dropped cross by Keith Kirkwood when Brees related with Ted Ginn Jr., who was activated from injured reserve on Saturday, for a primary down on the 7.
“Ted is a big-time participant and clearly a man we depend on so much,” Brees mentioned. “That was an enormous play within the recreation.”
Two performs later, Brees threw a 2-yard landing to Thomas with 1:25.
Pittsburgh nonetheless had time to tie or go forward, although Ben Roethlisberger, who accomplished 33 of 50 for 380 yards and three touchdowns, needed to function with none timeouts.
On fourth-and-15, he related with Antonio Brown (14 catches, 185 yards, two touchdowns) for a 19-yard completion on fourth-and-15.
The Steelers ultimately reached the New Orleans 42, however JuJu Smith-Schuster (11-115) misplaced the ball when he was hit by Sheldon Rankins and Demario Davis recovered for the Saints.
“That was a big-time play,” Saints coach Sean Payton mentioned.
Pittsburgh led Three-Zero within the first quarter when Mark Ingram II broke a tie with Deuce McAllister for essentially the most dashing touchdowns in franchise historical past with a 1-yard rating.
The Steelers kicked one other area purpose earlier than Alvin Kamara’s Eight-yard scoring run gave the Saints a 14-6 lead. Roethlisberger’s Three-yard landing cross to Jaylen Samuels and two-point conversion cross to Eli Rogers tied the rating with 40 seconds left within the half.
That was sufficient time for Brees, who accomplished 27-of-39 for 326 yards and a landing in his first interception-free recreation in 5 video games, and Kamara to staff on a 31-yard completion that arrange Lutz’s record-breaking kick from 43 yards, which gave the Saints a 17-14 halftime lead.
New Orleans took the second-half kickoff and drove to Kamara’s 1-yard landing earlier than Roethlisberger and Brown teamed on scores of three and 20 yards to take a 28-24 lead into the fourth quarter.
However the Saints got here from behind to win their sixth consecutive dwelling recreation and assure they will not be taking part in any extra street video games.
“Man,” Payton mentioned, “(The Saints) confirmed an awesome resolve.”