The Denver Broncos hoped to win one for Wade. But the New Orleans Saints had a better idea--win one with Wade.
Jim Everett passed for 343 yards and three touchdowns before being injured, and backup Wade Wilson made a lead stand up as the Saints defeated the Broncos, 30-28, on Saturday.
Wilson, a 14-year veteran who played sparingly this season in Everett’s shadow, helped the Saints (7-9) capitalize on three Denver turnovers in the final period. Everett left late in the third quarter with a bruised right elbow.
“Jim banged his elbow and felt he couldn’t throw the ball properly,” Saint Coach Jim Mora said, “so we decided to go with Wade. Jim played a great game, and Wade got the job done. I’m really proud of these guys. This is a difficult place to get a win in.”
Morten Andersen kicked field goals of 37 and 40 yards in the final six minutes. The latter, which gave the Saints a 30-21 lead, came with 1:56 left after cornerback Vinnie Clark’s interception off Hugh Millen, who played in place of the injured John Elway.
Denver (7-9) made it close at the finish as Millen threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Shannon Sharpe with 44 seconds to go. The Saints, however, recovered the ensuing onside kick.
It was the final game for retiring Denver linebacker Karl Mecklenburg and probably the last one for safety Dennis Smith. It might be the last, as well, for Coach Wade Phillips, who is 16-16 in his two seasons and has failed to win a show of support from owner Pat Bowlen.
“Way too much has been made of all that,” said Phillips, referring to reports of his impending dismissal. “I don’t think there’s any truth to it. Pat is going to talk with me later--I assume about next year and what my plans are for the team. If he doesn’t feel like we’re heading in the right direction . . . I can find another job.”
Everett completed 23 of 27 passes and set a Saint record for passing yardage in a season with 3,855, eclipsing the 3,716 of Archie Manning in 1980.
“I tried to distribute the ball to all the receivers,” Everett said. “It’s great to finish the season this way.”
Torrance Small caught six passes for a career-high 200 yards, including touchdown catches of 36 and 75 yards.