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Opponent Aftermath: Saints keep playoff hopes alive by beating Cardinals

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks (10) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

You could say the Arizona Cardinals’ postseason aspirations were on life support before Sunday.

The New Orleans Saints effectively pulled the plug on them by beating the Cardinals 48-41 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Coming into the contest, much was made about Drew Brees’ two-game stretch that produced zero touchdown passes and six interceptions. The 37-year-old didn’t resemble that quarterback at all, completing 37-of-48 passes for 389 yards and four touchdowns in the win.

At 6-8, the Saints stayed in the playoff conversation with two games to play.

All week, we updated you on what was going on in New Orleans as the Saints prepared for their trip to the desert. Monday, we let you know what they’re saying in Louisiana following the game.

It’s Opponent Aftermath…


Saints’ Drew Brees bounces back after two stinkers (NOLA.com)

Brees finished the game 37 of 48 for 389 yards and four touchdowns with a 127.9 passer rating, which is his third highest of the season.

“We’ve been disappointed with the last two games just because it’s not our standard,” said Brees, pointing to the 28-13 loss to the Detroit Lions and 16-11 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Speculation about Sean Payton’s future front and center — again (NOLA.com)

Earlier this week NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune heard murmurs the “Payton Sweepstakes” were once again beginning to kindle. A Sunday morning report from CBS Sports confirmed as much. Only this time, the Saints’ asking price for Payton could be much lower than last season’s. This time, the Rams, seeking an offensive mind to tutor No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff at quarterback, would be a likely suitor after the team fired Jeff Fisher earlier this week.

Saints’ Travaris Cadet makes good on opportunity to get in end zone (NOLA.com)

“It was a good throw by Drew,” Cadet said. “But the route was on the same page, kind of a similar situation from last week, the one that I dropped.”

Saints’ Brandin Cooks showcases array of skills in career-best performance (NOLA.com)

On Sunday, Cooks ended up with a one-on-one matchup with Arizona safety D.J. Swearinger when the Cardinals were playing in a zone. After being reminded of what he said about drawing coverage from a linebacker, Cooks was asked what he thinks when he matches up with a safety.

Saints’ Tim Hightower scores ‘meaningful’ touchdowns against Cardinals (NOLA.com)

New Orleans Saints running back Tim Hightower had himself a game in the end zone Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

He rushed for two fourth-quarter touchdowns during the Saints’ 48-41 win over the Cardinals, and totaled 48 yards (37 yards rushing).

“It just feels good to win,” Hightower said of his performance. “It feels good to win.”

Explaining the Saints’ razor-thin playoff chances after beating Cardinals (NOLA.com)

The Saints minuscule playoff chances stayed alive Sunday with their 48-41 victory against the Arizona Cardinals, along with the Dallas Cowboys’ 26-20 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Saints with an 8-8 record — that can come only with wins against the Buccaneers and Falcons in upcoming weeks — would hold tiebreakers over the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Panthers and Buccaneers, should they also post 8-8 records.

Explosive Saints offense bounces back in a big way to beat Cardinals 48-41 (The New Orleans Advocate)

The New Orleans Saints offense found itself in the desert Sunday.

Frustrated after a pair of uncharacteristic performances back-to-back in the past two weeks when the Saints were trying to stay in playoff contention, quarterback Drew Brees remained optimistic, secure in the fact that he has always bounced back from bad performances.

Saints played for pride, got nice win vs. Arizona; now, is it enough to silence Sean Payton chatter? (The New Orleans Advocate)

Mark Ingram says ‘I’ve got to control my emotions better’ after sideline outburst (The New Orleans Advocate)

FOX cameras caught Ingram going back and forth with Saints head coach Sean Payton, who declined to address the incident after the game.

Ingram, an emotional player, said the outburst stemmed from his competitive desire in the locker room after the Saints finished off a 48-41 win.

“I’m real competitive in everything I do,” Ingram said. “I’ve got to be smarter, I’ve got to control my emotions better, but we had a great win as a team, that’s our No. 1 goal, and that’s what I’m happy for.”

How Saints worked their way around Patrick Peterson, Arizona defense in win vs. Cardinals (The New Orleans Advocate)

Last year, when New Orleans played Arizona, the Cardinals spent the game trying to erase Brandin Cooks from the offense by dropping former LSU star Patrick Peterson, one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL, on him throughout the game. Arizona was successful in that task and ended up winning the game by limiting the Saints passing attack.

“Honestly, the concern I had was going to be if he’s going to travel to Cooks the whole game, then Mike is going to have some good numbers,” coach Sean Payton said. “That wasn’t a concern, but that was part of the plan.”

Saints’ Brandin Cooks caps turbulent season with career-best performance (ESPN.com)

Has any one player exemplified the highs and lows of the New Orleans Saints season more than Brandin Cooks?

The dynamic third-year receiver started the season off with a 98-yard TD catch in Week 1 and an 87-yard TD catch in Week 6.

Then he underwent some turbulence over the past month, first expressing his frustration over his role in the offense following a zero-target game, then dropping a potential TD pass last week.

Drew Brees, Brandin Cooks have monster days, but it all comes too late for Saints (ESPN.com)

Ummm, where has that been the past two weeks?

The New Orleans Saints exploded out of their offensive slumber in Sunday’s 48-41 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, who had entered the week with the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense.

New Orleans Saints players talk about win over Cardinals (Saints.com)

“It just feels good to win.”

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