NFL

Saints steamroll Bucs to lock up wild card

Staff Writer
Plaquemine Post South
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees speaks with an official earlier in the season. The Saints defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 42-17 on Sunday.  
POST SOUTH PHOTO/Peter Silas Pasqua

NEW ORLEANS - The New Orleans Saints took care of business Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, dominating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 42-17 to secure a wild-card playoff spot and finish the season a perfect 8-0 at home.

The Saints (11-5) will be the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs and will play in a wild-card game at 7:10 p.m. Saturday on NBC against the Philadelphis Eagles (10-6).

The Eagles defeated the Dallas Cowboys 24-22 Sunday night to win the NFC East. San Francisco (12-4) edged Arizona 23-20 to secure the five seed and will play Green Bay, which rallied to defeat Chicago 33-28 Sunday to capture the NFC North and the fourth seed.

The Saints' chance of winning the NFC South and the No. 2 seed ended when Carolina (12-4) edged Atlanta 21-20 earlier Sunday in the Georgia Dome. Seattle (13-3) is the No. 1 seed and will enjoy a bye week along with the Panthers.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees was sensational, completing 24-of-31 passes for 381 yards, four touchdown passes and a 9-yard touchdown run. His passer rating of 157.4 was just a point away from a perfect score.

Brees passed the 5,000-yard mark in the second quarter on a 41-yard TD pass to Robert Meachem. It's the fourth time in his career (2008, 2011, 2012) that he has passed for more than 5,000 yards in a season, most in NFL history. He finished the season with 5,162 yards and 39 TD passes.

Brees spread the wealth with four players catching touchdown passes including Lance Moore, Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills and Meachem. Running back Pierre Thomas added an 8-yard touchdown run.

The Saints' defense held Tampa's running game in check while frustrating the Bucs on third down.

Defensive end/linebacker Junior Galette had two sacks and safety Roman Harper led the team with eight tackles while cornerback Corey White added six.