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Inside the epic “forever drive” that helped the Saints reach the NFC title game

If the Saints march on to win their second Super Bowl title in franchise history, the drive in the NFC Divisional Round vs. the Philadelphia Eagles will take on legendary status in New Orleans.

The numbers are simply staggering: 18 plays, 92 yards in 11:29, capped off with a two-yard touchdown from Drew Brees to Michael Thomas.

The mammoth drive gave the Saints their first lead of the game (17-14) at the 1:40 mark of the third quarter.

It serves as the longest postseason scoring drive by plays since 2007 and was the longest scoring drive by time in a playoff game since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

The unofficial tally was an insane 21 plays, 112 yards when taking into account the penalties (three by the Saints, one by the Eagles) according to Deadspin. One of the Saints’ penalties (holding) wiped out a 46-yard touchdown reception by Alvin Kamara from Taysom Hill on the 11th play.

The Eagles raced out to a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. However, the Saints rallied to score the game’s final 20 points to move within a victory of returning to the Super Bowl for the first time since defeating the Colts in 2009.

The Saints will host the Los Angeles Rams at 2:05 p.m. (CST) on Jan. 20 (FOX) in the NFC Championship Game for the right to advance to Super Bowl LIII. The Rams beat the Dallas Cowboys 30-22 on Saturday night.

The Kansas City Chiefs host the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 20 (CBS) at 5:40 p.m. (CST).

Here’s the full breakdown of what’s being dubbed the “Forever Drive”:

Afterwards, Brees told CST’s Mike Nabors in the post game interview that he doesn’t recall ever being a part of such a prolonged drive.

“I don’t think so. It was long. It felt long. When I got back to the sideline I was looking forward to looking at the [Microsoft] Surface to see how many plays…You look up at the clock and you see that it says maybe a minute left in the third quarter and you go ‘Wow, where’d the time go?’ That’s a good thing,” Brees said. “At the end of the day I think we had the ball close to 38 minutes in this game to their 22. When you talk about time of possession, controlling the clock, controlling the line of scrimmage, we did on that drive.”

The drive had a debilitating effect on the defending Super Bowl champs while injecting the Saints with a boost to close out the victory.

With the Rams coming to town for a rematch, the drive inspires confidence that the Saints have the moxie to claim the NFC crown.

“I think that kind of blew it open for us. I think that really wore them down,” Brees said. “It really gave our team and offense a lot of momentum.”