• 57°

Saints, Brees march past Cards in NFC playoffs

NEW ORLEANS — Maybe a little rest was all Drew Brees and Reggie Bush needed to shift the Saints’ league-leading offense back into overdrive.

That, and a visit from Arizona’s porous defense.

Brees threw three touchdown passes, Bush scored on an 83-yard punt return and a spectacular 46-yard run, and New Orleans overwhelmed the defending NFC champion Cardinals 45-14 on Saturday.

One win from the Super Bowl, New Orleans will host an NFC title game for the first time in franchise history next weekend. The Saints will play the winner of Sunday’s game between Dallas and Minnesota.

Jeremy Shockey caught a touchdown pass in his return from a three-game absence. Devery Henderson and Marques Colston also had touchdown catches, and Lynell Hamilton had a short touchdown run for the Saints.

Coming off its 51-45 overtime win over Green Bay in the wild-card round, Arizona wound up yielding 90 points in the postseason, the most ever allowed in consecutive playoff games in one season.

Even the Saints’ sometimes soft defense played well, forcing two turnovers, harassing Warner often and knocking Arizona’s 38-year-old quarterback out of the game briefly when, during Will Smith’s interception return, he was blind-sided by Bobby McCray’s block.