A Bayou slopfest for all time, Indy's clutch moments and more Snaps
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NEW ORLEANS -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight from the Superdome on the NFL's Championship Sunday, a day the Saints and Colts will always remember as quite super ...
Well I don't know if they're going to go quite marching in, but the New Orleans Saints, after 43 mostly star-crossed seasons, are Super Bowl-bound.
What a game, and what a ride the Saints and Vikings took us on Sunday at a Superdome filled with spent football fans. And what can you say about the twist of fate that saw Brett Favre throw Minnesota's season and Super Bowl hopes away with one of the worst interceptions of his 19-year NFL career? Shades of 2007, all over again for No. 4.
I'm not sure either team deserved to win this turnover-happy slopfest, but in the end, the top-seeded Saints won the overtime coin flip, and made enough plays on the only drive in the extra period to position Garrett Hartley for a game-winning 40-yard field goal.
And now we get to look forward to the first Super Bowl pairing of No. 1 teams since Dallas and Buffalo met in January 1994 (Super Bowl XXVIII in Atlanta). The Colts and Saints were the two best teams in their conference all season, and now they'll fight it out in Miami for overall NFL supremacy.
What a horrible ending for Favre's magical season in Minnesota. His critics said all year that sooner or later Favre would hurt the Vikings as much as he helped them. And it finally happened, with that horribly ill-advised interception with seven seconds left in regulation and the Vikings in position to at least try a game-winning field goal.
It's a cardinal sin in the NFL: You don't throw late over the middle. And that's exactly what Favre did. He played heroically at times on Sunday, fighting through a left ankle injury and a constant battering. But all that's really going to be remembered about this one is his game-changing pick.
I have to believe Favre will never let that pass be his last one in the NFL, any more than he did when he threw that game-deciding interception in overtime of the Packers' 2007 NFC title game loss at home against the Giants. We'll have No. 4 back in 2010, no matter what he might say or announce in the coming days or weeks.
I'm counting on it.
Mark Sanchez and Favre were the SI coverboys last week. And, um, they went 0-for-Championship Sunday. The jinx lives
Nice showing by the glamour running backs in this one. It wasn't pants on the ground -- it was the football. The Saints' Reggie Bush muffed that punt return late in the first half, a sin he didn't wind up having to pay for because the Vikings' Adrian Peterson failed to connect on a hand-off from Favre shortly thereafter. (Officially Favre got the fumble, and the play was listed as aborted).
Peterson then fumbled early in the third quarter, but lucked out himself after Saints linebacker Scott Shanle tried to pick it up and run, rather than fall on it. Vikings fullback Naufahu Tahi wound up recovering for Minnesota. Unbelievably, Peterson fumbled again on the Vikings' next possession, and just as improbably, it again didn't cost his team because he scrambled up and recovered the ball 10 yards downfield.
Peterson has always been a fumbler, but he entered play having not coughed up a ball since Minnesota's Dec. 28 loss at Chicago.
Five turnovers and the Vikings still had a chance, a good chance, to win this game. That's remarkable. And it speaks to how putrid the Saints offense was for most of the game. New Orleans had just 257 yards of offense, and won. Minnesota had 475 yards ... and lost.
The Saints were just 3 of 12 on third downs, and that's the worst we've seen Drew Brees play all season. And yet somehow, Brees was 17 of 31 for 197 yards passing, three touchdowns and a 106.5 QB rating.
Darren Sharper was a heat-seeking missile for New Orleans most of the game. The Saints safety flies to the ball like very few players in this league. And at one point in the first half, Peterson lowered his helmet and tried to run over Sharper, and Sharper didn't budge one inch.
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