NEW ORLEANS — The two veterans of the worst of times savored the best of times.
"You realize we've won more games in a row than we ever won in a season before this," New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Stan Brock said.
"I feel great about it. Just great," cornerback Dave Waymer said.
Morten Andersen kicked four first-half field goals, and Dalton Hilliard led a three-touchdown second half Sunday as the Saints closed out the team's most successful season ever with a 33-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
The Saints, twice 8-8 but never a winner in 20 previous seasons, go into their first playoff game with a 12-3 record and nine straight victories, the longest active winning streak in the National Football League.
New Orleans Coach Jim Mora, who said in July that the Saints weren't good enough to be considered a playoff contender, said Sunday that he was surprised.
"We're good enough to win the Super Bowl," he said. He quickly qualified that by adding, "Just like the rest of the teams in the playoffs.
"Now, the new season starts," he said.
The Packers, eliminated from the playoffs a week ago, finished 5-9-1.
Andersen's field goals were good from 31, 52 and 48 yards in the first quarter and 32 yards in the second quarter.
The Saints trailed, 17-12, at halftime, with the Packers scoring on two touchdown passes from Don Majkowski to Walter Stanley and a 24-yard field goal by Max Zendejas. The touchdown passes covered 29 and 39 yards.
Hilliard ran 23 yards with a draw play in the third quarter to set up a 3-yard touchdown sweep by Rueben Mayes that put the Saints ahead for the first time at 19-17.
Majkowski put the Packers back on top briefly, 24-19, with a 20-yard pass to Phillip Epps with 2:35 left in the third quarter. But Hilliard returned the ensuing kickoff 74 yards to the Packer 20, and Bobby Hebert hit John Tice with a 5-yard touchdown pass three plays later.
That put the Saints ahead, 26-24, with 1:27 left in the third quarter, and Hilliard capped a 53-yard fourth-quarter drive with a 1-yard touchdown dive to clinch the win.