By The Associated Press
SAINTS 45, LIONS 28
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Drew Brees led an unstoppable offense by throwing for 466 yards and three touchdowns, and New Orleans poured it on in the second half for a play record-setting victory.
New Orleans broke the postseason mark for total yards with 626, beating the record set 49 years ago.
Brees hit on 33 of 43 passes while throwing for the most yards in a regulation playoff game. He highlighted his night with three completions of at least 40 yards.
The quarterback had plenty of help from an offense that set an NFL record for yards from scrimmage this season (7,474). The Saints (14-3) will travel to San Francisco (13-3) for next Saturday’s second-round game.
Matthew Stafford threw for 380 yards and three TDs for the Lions (10-7), who simply could not keep pace in their first playoff appearance since 1999. They have lost seven straight postseason games.
All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson had 12 receptions for 211 yards and two touchdowns in his playoff debut for Detroit, but that was not nearly enough as the Saints’ defense responded in the fourth quarter with two interceptions by Jabari Greer.
The teams combined for 1,083 yards, tying an NFL playoff record set by Buffalo and Miami on Dec. 30, 1995.
Texans 31, Bengals 10
HOUSTON (AP) — Rookie J.J. Watt’s leaping interception return for a touchdown late in the first half propelled the Houston Texans to a 31-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Saturday’s AFC wild-card game.
Third-string quarterback T.J. Yates, another rookie pressed into action, threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson, and Arian Foster followed with his second touchdown of the game, a 42-yard run in the fourth quarter, for Houston (11-6).
After nine seasons of going home early, the AFC South champion Texans are heading to AFC North winner Baltimore (12-4) next Sunday.
Watt returned the first of rookie Andy Dalton’s three interceptions 29 yards for a score that broke a 10-10 tie with 52 seconds left in the half.
Yates then hit Johnson on a TD pass late in the third quarter, and Foster added his long scoring run to put away the Bengals (9-8). Foster scored on an 8-yard run in the first quarter to tie the score at 7, and finished with 153 yards on 24 carries.
Dalton was 24 of 42 for 257 yards, while Yates was 11 of 20 for 159 yards in the first playoff game in the Super Bowl era matching two rookie quarterbacks. Cincinnati has not won a postseason game in 21 years.
Houston had lost three in a row since its last victory, over the Bengals to clinch the division title.