The Saints knocked off the Vikings in overtime to earn a spot in the Super Bowl against the Colts.
Earlier, we posted our 10 observations from Indy's win over the Jets.
1. With just about 1:06 left, things were looking good for the Vikings. They had just driven 46 yards and were creeping into field-goal range with the game tied at 28. But what followed was as disastrous a stretch as you'll find at the end of a football game. It started with back-to-back runs, which I didn't understand. Even if they picked up a few yards, the Vikings were looking at a 45-to-50-yard field goal. Don't you have to be a little more aggressive there? Isn't that why you brought in Brett Favre in the first place? Naturally, neither rushing attempt picked up any yardage. After a timeout, Minnesota was flagged for 12 men in the huddle. Unbelievable. I just kept thinking about the insults that would be hurled at Andy Reid if that happened here. Favre, of course, finished off the nightmarish stretch with a terrible interception, sending the game into OT.
2. Some will point to the Favre INT as where the game was lost. There's no downplaying it. That was huge. Had Favre run with the football, Ryan Longwell would have likely had a shot at a 40-yard field goal. But the earlier turnovers were what cost the Vikings. In the fourth quarter, Bernard Berrian lost a fumble at the New Orleans 18. And the Percy Harvin fumble at the start of the fourth set up the Saints' final touchdown. The fumbled exchange to Adrian Peterson at the end of the first half was enormous. As every TV analyst will undoubtedly remind you Monday morning, it's hard to win football games when you turn the ball over five times. Especially when two of those come inside the opponent's 20.
3. Here's the deal on Favre. The media coverage and his retirement flip-flopping have done such a number on many of you that you couldn't even enjoy what you were watching Sunday night. Regardless of what you think of him, at 40 years old, Favre delivered a memorable performance. Did you see him at his post-game press conference? It was like the guy had just been in a brawl. I don't think he was being dramatic. Favre took a pounding. And he just hung in there, delivering strike after strike for much of the game. But instead of appreciating that, it seemed like many took joy in his final INT and spent much of the game focusing on Joe Buck's man-crush on Favre. Like I said, I've been annoyed by all the coverage in the past too, but I think people are going overboard with the anti-Favre sentiment.
4. The final numbers for Drew Brees: 17-for-31 for 197 yards and three touchdowns. But anyone who was paying attention knows that was far from his best performance. Brees was uncharacteristically off-target on several throws. He'll need to connect on those for the Saints to hang with the Colts in the Super Bowl.
5. In a pre-game interview, Favre described to Fox's Pam Oliver the proper way to smack a teammate on the rear end. "You don't want to cuff it," Favre said. This is the kind of information I want from my pre-game shows. Nice job out of them.
6. Two things that my Dad requests we get rid of before next season: Frank Caliendo and American Idol performers (specifically the male ones) singing the National Anthem. Who can make this happen for him?
7. Brad Childress' squad threw on the first five offensive plays and seven of the first eight. Adrian Peterson didn't have a carry until the ninth play from scrimmage. Somewhere, Andy Reid was smiling.
8. I counted at least seven Deanna Favre shots and no Kim Kardashian shots. Was she there, or not? Did anyone ask Reggie Bush about this afterwards?
9. Peterson put the coaches in an impossible situation. Officially, he was charged with two fumbles. But that really could have been three. If it were me, I don't think I'd have been able to put him back in the game.
10. Brees' pre-game pump-up routine is greater than Keith Brooking's... Remember how every announcer this season said the Eagles were the best screen team in the NFL? The Saints sure looked like they belong in that discussion on the TD to Pierre Thomas early... Sean Payton knows how to create mismatchces. Bush against a linebacker for a 28-yard gain in the second... Special teams were huge for the Saints. A 61-yard kickoff return set up the third-quarter touchdown. And of course the game-winning field goal... Big game out of tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. Four catches for 83 yards, including a tremendous one-handed grab in the third... Great job by Bernard Berrian to come back and make a play on the ball for 30 yards on third down in the fourth quarter.