1. What we learned
Yes, Virginia, the Saints can win on the road. Better yet, they proved they can win a playoff game after outdueling both the elements and the Eagles to advance to the divisional round. The Saints failed to finish in their most recent road loss to the Carolina Panthers, which sent them on this road odyssey, but they got the job done in a tight situation Saturday night. After giving up the lead with just under 5 minutes left, they marched to the game-winning field goal on the final play — setting up a joyous plane ride home.
2. Now trending
Running back Mark Ingram ran like a man possessed when the Saints needed him most Saturday night. With Pierre Thomas sidelined by a chest injury, Ingram more than picked up the slack with 97 tough rushing yards on 18 carries against the Eagles’ 10th-ranked run defense. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry with a long gain of 18 yards. Ingram set the tone on the Saints’ first play from scrimmage with an impressive 17-yard run over right tackle and never slowed down. Ingram also had a 4-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter to extend a 13-7 lead to 13 points.
3. Final thoughts
Thank goodness for Shayne Graham. The 14-year veteran was unemployed and sitting at home waiting for a phone call when the Saints decided they might need a more reliable kicker for playoff time. All he did Saturday night was kick four field goals from 36, 46, 35 and 32 yards — two in the second quarter and two in the final period. The 46-yarder came on the final play of the first half to cut a 7-3 deficit to 7-6, and the 32-yarder by Graham — who kicked a 55-yard field goal in the playoffs at New England last January — split the uprights as the final seconds ticked off the clock to send his team to the divisional round.