The New Orleans Saints (11-4) didn’t need a Miracle on Poydras Street on Sunday afternoon; they just needed to have a key interception from Marshon Lattimore at the end of the first half to clinch a playoff spot with a 23-13 victory over the Atlanta Falcons (9-6).
The Saints got on the board early with Wil Lutz sending one through the uprights from 40 yards out. Lutz was relied upon heavily in the ballgame and made it 6-0 with 1:23 left until halftime with a 29-yarder.
Lattimore wound up giving the Saints the ball back with 57 seconds left when a pass intended for Hall was intercepted after the ball landed square on the rookie’s posterior. That led to Drew Brees finding Ted Ginn Jr. for a 54-yard touchdown strike to make it 13-0 at the break.
Matt Bryant got the Falcons on the board around the midway mark of the third quarter with a 37-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 10 points. However, the Saints made it 20-3 with 2:59 left in the third quarter when Mark Ingram took it into the endzone from 26 yards out.
After stopping the Falcons on a fourth and one, the Saints looked like they could have orchestrated another stellar drive to put the ballgame away, but were forced to punt. The defense forced Atlanta to settle for three points, making it 20-6.
Lutz officially put the game out of reach with 3:43 remaining with a 46-yard field goal.
With the win, New Orleans has clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2013. However, the Saints will need to win their matchup on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11) and the Panthers to lose against the Falcons to win the NFC South. The Saints-Bucs matchup is set for 12 pm.