Back in 2009, the New Orleans Saints put up a record of 13-3 en route to the only Super Bowl appearance and victory in the history of the franchise. The residents of the “Big Easy” are insistent that it was a magical season and another would never feel like it again. Well, they may have been wrong. On Sunday, the Saints locked up the No. 1 seed in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout the 2018 NFL playoffs.
With two games remaining in the regular season, the Saints needed one victory to secure the No. 1 seed in the NFC. In the final week of the season, they will face the Carolina Panthers, who are finishing out the year without starting quarterback Cam Newton.
Still, the Saints won’t need to worry about that.
After almost a month, the Saints returned home to the Superdome on Sunday and took on the Pittsburgh Steelers in an important game for both teams. If the Steelers had secured a victory, they would have helped themselves en route to the playoffs, but it wasn’t meant to be.
As reported by ESPN, the back and forth game was won by the New Orleans Saints 31-28 thanks to a late touchdown pass from Drew Brees to Michael Thomas. After that, the stout Saints defense caused and recovered a fumble to seal the win for the black and gold.
With the victory, the Saints’ offense looked more like its old self from earlier this season, with Brees throwing for 326 yards and one touchdown. Thomas ended up with 11 receptions for 109 yards and what ended up being the game-winning score.
Ben Roethlisberger had a big game for the Steelers as he threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns. Antonio Brown ended up with 185 yards and two touchdowns on 14 receptions, while JuJu Smith-Schuster had 11 receptions for 115 yards.
???? two of the best in the game ???? pic.twitter.com/pZBsY4CZ78— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) December 24, 2018
With the win, the Saints’ playoff position in the NFC cannot change and it won’t matter what happens through the rest of this weekend or the final week of the season. New Orleans has clinched the NFC South, home-field advantage, and a first-round bye.
The second first-round bye in the NFC is still up for grabs between the Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears.
With the loss, the Steelers fell out of the playoffs in the AFC, but they’re not yet eliminated. They will need to win their season finale next week and likely have a bit of help from other teams if they’re going to make it to the postseason.
The 2009 season was indeed a magical one for the New Orleans Saints, and it ended with a Super Bowl victory for the “Big Easy.” Now, the Saints are having a similar season, but this team actually appears to be even better than the one that won the championship. After defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Saints have accomplished every regular season goal possible and the focus is now on the playoffs.