The New Orleans Saints have gone from being a nowhere team to one going to the the conference championship for the first time in its 40-year history. The Saints won just three games last year when they did not play a home game at the Superdome because of damage from Hurricane Katrina.
Deuce McAllister ran 21 times for 143 yards and scored two touchdowns in the Saints' tense 27-to-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Saints used a tough ground attack to wear down the N-F-C East champion Eagles. New Orleans ran for 208 yards. Saints rookie sensation Reggie Bush added 52 yards on the ground, including a four-yard T-D run.
Drew Brees complemented the ground game with an accurate passing attack. He completed 20 of 32 passes for 243 yards and one T-D.
Donte Stallworth was the big-play man for the Eagles with three catches for 100 yards, including a 75-yard T-D pass.
The Saints march on to play either the Chicago Bears or Seattle Seahawks in next Sunday's NFC title game.
Colts Kick Their Way Past Baltimore, 15-6
Adam Vinatieri and the resurgent Indianapolis defense helped the Colts heap another dose of misery upon Baltimore.
Signed during the offseason specifically for his playoff experience, Vinatieri kicked five field goals Saturday to put his name in the NFL record book and carry Indianapolis past the Baltimore Ravens 15-6 and into the AFC championship game.
Although unspectacular, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was efficient enough to make up for some of his previous playoff failures and keep alive his hope of playing in the Super Bowl for the first time.
Indianapolis never trailed in eliminating the No. 2-seeded Ravens (13-4), who were coming off a first-round bye and poised to extract a measure of revenge against the franchise that broke the hearts of Baltimore fans by sneaking out of the city to Indianapolis in March 1984.
The third-seeded Colts (14-4) will next face the winner of Sunday's game between San Diego and New England. If the Patriots win, the game will be in Indianapolis.
Vinatieri won two Super Bowls with late field goals and scored 117 points in the postseason for New England. He was signed by Indianapolis as a free agent to replace Mike Vanderjagt, who missed a 46-yard field goal with 17 seconds left last season in the Colts' 21-18 playoff loss to Pittsburgh.
Vinatieri justified the acquisition with a flawless performance Saturday. He connected on field goal tries of 23, 42, 51, 48 and 35 yards; the fourth kick gave him set an NFL-record 33 career postseason field goals.
Vinatieri, who kicked three field goals last week against Kansas City, broke the mark of 32 held by Gary Anderson. The record-setting kick came with 10:57 left in the third quarter and put the Colts ahead 12-3.
That was enough support for a defense that during the regular season finished last against the run. The Colts did not allow a touchdown, held Jamal Lewis to 53 yards rushing also forced four turnovers — intercepting Steve McNair twice and recovering two fumbles.