Initial thoughts on the match up for Super Bowl XLIV, this is going to be a great game to watch providing the Saints are able to get over celebrating their Conference Championship. If they can show up and play like the Saints we saw against the Vikings, they will provide a much tougher test than the Bears gave Peyton Manning and the Colts a few years ago.
It could be a potentially ugly match-up in Miami, however, if the Saints treat this victory as their Super Bowl, a la LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007, who wilted in the finals against the Spurs after winning the NBA's Eastern Conference. Just getting to the Super Bowl is so meaningful for the franchise and the city of New Orleans to represent the city's true resurgence. If anything, the Saints making the Super Bowl should shed some light on how parts of the city of New Orleans have not and will not ever come back. In all seriousness, it's a story worth telling and worth reminding people of.
The Vikings dominated the ebb and flow of the NFC Championship, out-gaining the Saints in total yards (475 to 257), total plays (82 to 55), time of possession (36:49 to 27:56). Offensively, the stats said it was all Minnesota. But it's hard to argue against the important of the turnover ratio. Five times a Vikings drive ended with a turnover, including a Brett Favre interception in the waning moments of regulation that cost the Vikes a chance to attempt a game-winning field goal.
So Brett Favre saga is over - or at least on hold - as his season ends with an interception as his final pass in the NFC Championship game for the second time in three seasons. The last time it happened was Favre's final pass as a Packer. If the Vikings want a chance to stay atop the NFC North and contend for the NFC crown again, they should look in to bringing back the 40-year-old quarterback. He was unable to fight his gunslinger attitude and a sore ankle, so instead of scrambling for extra yardage in setting up Ryan Longwell on a 45ish yard field goal, he threw across back across his body for the interception. Will this lead to another "retirement" or a final retirement for Favre, or does the fact that they got so close provide enough of a lure to keep him in Purple and Gold at least one more season?
While CBS won't have Brett Favre to fawn over for two weeks in preparing for its Super Bowl coverage, they will be shining the spotlight on the Big Easy, Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Sean Payton, and the entire comeback for this team, city and region.
When the Superdome reopened on September 24, 2006, ESPN's Mike Tirico called the game perhaps the most meaningful Saints game ever. It signified that the region was on the rebound. That year, the Saints went all the way to the NFC championship game, losing to the Bears on a cold Soldier Field. When they got back to the NFL's final four this season, the Saints were the ones hosting the game in front of their fans. The noise in the Superdome was undeniable and unavoidable. The Saints have been one of the most energetic teams all season long, with TV cameras frequently capturing Brees leading the team in their pre-game chants.
And they'll be chanting all the way to Miami for the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.