NFL MVP candidate Drew Brees threw three second-half touchdown passes and led the Saints to a 35-point second half Saturday night as New Orleans wiped out a 14-10 halftime deficit to beat the visiting Lions, 45-28.
Brees completed 33-of-43 passes for 455 yards as the Saints advance to the NFC divisional round next weekend to play the 49ers in San Francisco.
The Lions came to play early on, taking leads of 7-0 and 14-7 on a pair of Matthew Stafford TD passes of 10 yards to tight end Will Heller in the first quarter and 13 yards to Calvin Johnson in the second quarter. Stafford, who led the Lions to their first playoff appearance in 12 seasons, was in control in the first half, as the Lions took a 14-10 lead at the halftime intermission.
But Brees came out firing in the third quarter, completing TD passes of 41 yards to Devery Henderson and three yards to tight end Jimmy Graham, giving the Saints the lead for good, 24-14. The Saints finished off their win in style with 21 points in the fourth quarter, including a 56-yard TD strike from Brees to Robert Meachem.
Stafford was 28-for-43 for 380 yards and three touchdowns as the Lions finished their best season since 1999, when they finished 8-8 but qualified for the playoffs. The winner of Sunday's Falcons-Giants game in New Jersey will advance to play the Packers next weekend at Lambeau Field.