Saints Outlast Browns in Bitter Cold, Keep Playoff Hopes Alive
As frigid weather overtook a majority of the US, the Saints would be facing the Browns in a Christmas Eve matchup.
The "feels-like" temperature at kick-off was -15.
This one was going to be a doozy.
Early on, the game was going about how you'd expect a snowy, windy day would go. Neither offense could get anything going and there was plenty of silly weather stuff going on.
The first quarter was essentially just both teams punting in plus territory because field goals were impossible.
That is until Andy Dalton's pass was tipped into the hands of Grant Delpit. For some reason, the Saints were still trying to throw in the miserable wind, and the interception was a perfect example of why that was a bad idea.
As the first quarter ended, the Browns would have the ball deep in Saints territory.
Deshaun Watson took the very first play of the second quarter around the edge to score the game's first touchdown.
The Saints answered with a pathetically conservative 3-and-out in which Taysom Hill never saw the field. Fans were starting to question Pete Carmichael's sanity.
The Saints weren't tackling particularly well on defense either, and that allowed the Browns to ram the ball up the middle, matriculating the ball deep into Saints territory.
Luckily, Amari Cooper decided to drop an easy touchdown pass, bringing out Cade York to extend the lead to 10, rather than 14.
As the half came to a close, someone on the Saints coaching staff finally decided to start putting their freak athlete Taysom Hill to good use.
Taysom helped get the Saints inside the 10, hoping to get a two-for-one and tie up the game, or better. The drive stalled out deep, and Wil Lutz would nail the chip shot, taking the game to half and setting up the two-fer.
The Saints offense came out of the half with good rhythm. They moved quickly into the weather-shortened range of Wil Lutz, but Lutz wasn't kicking for 3.
Lutz knocked in the extra point, and all of a sudden the game was tied.
The teams traded punts and then the Saints defense made the biggest play of the game so far.
The Saints would take that momentum and take the lead a few plays later.
The Saints would take a 7 point lead into the final frame.
The Browns offense continued to make questionable decisions with the ball, and the Saints defense did their job to get the ball back to the offense yet again.
The teams traded punts and failed 4th down conversions as both became quickly fatigued in the bitter cold.
By the two minute warning, the Browns were driving behind Nick Chubb, looking to tie it up late. A big sack by Onyemata would slow them down, but they managed to get deep into the Saints redzone nonetheless.
But after three incompletions, Carl Granderson ran Deshaun Watson down and sacked him to seal the deal.
The Saints playoff hopes, while miniscule, are alive, but they face NFC Super Bowl favorites, the Philadelphia Eagles, on New Year's Day.