8 Jan 2018

Saints and Jaguars win wild card games

3:17 pm on 8 January 2018

Drew Brees passed for 376 yards and two touchdowns as the New Orleans Saints defeated the Carolina Panthers 31-26 in an NFC Wild Card Playoff game in New Orleans.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees passes to wide receiver Michael Thomas.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees passes to wide receiver Michael Thomas. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Saints beat the Panthers for the third time this season to advance to the divisional round. They will face the Vikings in Minnesota next weekend.

Brees, who completed 23 of 32 passes, threw first-half touchdown passes of 80 yards to Ted Ginn Jr. and 9 yards to Josh Hill.

The Saints went for a fourth-and-2 at the Carolina 47-yard line with two minutes left, but Brees was intercepted by Mike Adams at the Panthers 31.

Cam Newton drove Carolina to a first down at the New Orleans 21, but after an incompletion he was pressured and called for intentional grounding. After an incompletion in the end zone, Vonn Bell sacked Newton with six seconds left.

The Jacksonville Jaguars broke a 10-year playoff drought because of their defense, so it wasn't surprising that the defense carried most of the load in their 10-3 AFC wild-card win over the Buffalo Bills in Jacksonville.

Jacksonville, which won the AFC South title and the No. 3 seed for the AFC playoffs, advances to a conference semifinal next weekend at No. 2 Pittsburgh. The Jaguars intercepted Ben Roethlisberger five times in a 30-9 Week 5 victory.

Buffalo lost its first playoff game since 1999 because of a familiar storyline -- lack of offensive punch. The Bills actually carved out a 263-230 advantage in total yardage, but weren't able to make big plays due to their lack of a passing game.

In the other divisional gamesd next weekend Atlanta play Philadelphia and Tennessee play New England.