NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Nothing has ever come easy for the New Orleans Saints. Naturally, winning their first playoff game after 34 years and knocking the defending Super Bowl champions out of the playoffs weren't any different.

Aaron Brooks threw three touchdown passes to Willie Jackson, and the Saints held off a huge fourth-quarter rally from the St. Louis Rams for a 31-28 victory Saturday.

From the voodoo ceremony before kickoff to owner Tom Benson's famous Benson Boogie at the end, it had the makings of a truly New Orleans scene, a celebration befitting a breakthrough after decades of frustration and an 0-4 lifetime playoff record.

But there was fear, too.

After going ahead 31-7 early in the fourth quarter, New Orleans (11-6) looked like the Saints of old, watching Kurt Warner drive the Rams to three quick touchdowns, shaving the deficit to 31-28.

After the final touchdown at the 2:36 mark, the Saints recovered the Rams' onside kick. The Rams (10-7) forced a punt, but Az Hakim muffed an easy fair catch at his own 11, and New Orleans recovered.

Brooks simply took a knee three times, and one of the most downtrodden franchises in sports history finally had reason to celebrate.