A boyhood dream was realized on Sunday night as the New Orleans Saints won the NFC Championship and are headed to their first ever Super Bowl.
After defeating the Minnesota Vikings 31-28, the Saints are heading down to Miami and will play the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.
In what was perhaps the best game I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life, the Saints are going to the franchise’s first Super Bowl since their inception in 1967.
I would like to first of all give all the credit in the world to the Vikings for a tremendous season and a fantastically fought final battle. Everything was left out on the field in the Superdome as both teams battled it out back and forth for sixty minutes and then some. There was no real pulling ahead by either team as it was constantly back and forth without one team ever truly getting into a comfortable lead. In the end and with a little extra time, the Saints pulled it out for a tremendous victory.
Well, it really didn’t take long for all of the excuses to start from Vikings’ fans, sports writers, and just random observers. There is already so much moaning and complaining going on right now, but it’s not going to dampen my spirits. It really will not. No matter what anyone says, the game is over now and the Saints emerged victorious. I’ll tell you what…I’d say the exact same thing if the Vikings won too because even if there was something for me to complain about, there’d be no point. But let’s take a look at some of the things that are being used already as excuses for the Vikings’ loss and the Saints’ victory.
~ The Saints were purposely coming after Brett Favre – You damn right they were. Why wouldn’t they? The point of the game on defense is to tackle the man with the ball and half of every play consists of the quarterback having the ball. Were they trying to purposely hurt him? I doubt it. Were they trying to rattle him and shake him up? I’d say so, but they weren’t trying to purposely hurt the guy. If some of the hits were bad then they would have been called and two of them were. One of them (Bobby McCray’s on Favre) was even very questionable, but it was called and therefore the discussion is done.
It appeared the gameplan for the Saints last week was the exact same thing against Kurt Warner of the Arizona Cardinals and it worked. Warner got really shaken up and wasn’t his usual self throughout the game. As a matter of fact…I believe the Vikings used the same gameplan against Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys as they were constantly throwing him to the ground and hitting him hard. All’s fair in love and football. The name of the game is getting knocked down so shut up about it.
~ Replay officials made some bad calls – Look, some of the plays that didn’t go the Vikings’ way were given two chances. A call from the refs on the field and then a second, third, and fifteenth look up in the replay booth. The rules specifically state that there needs to be “inconclusive evidence” to overturn a call on the field. If there isn’t, then the play stands. Simple enough. If you don’t want it to be that close then the players should do something to make sure the play never got that close to need a review.
~ The pass interference call on Ben Leber in overtime was bogus – Here is one you’ll get some sympathy from me on because when the flag was dropped, I knew what the call was but thought it would be picked up. My thought is that the ball was uncatchable and when they continued through and made the call…I was shocked. Bad calls happen and nothing can be done about them, but it’s not like this was the call that lost the whole game for the Vikings. It was only first down as well so it’s not like it was made on a crucial third down or anything. None the less, it was still a lousy call.
~ Overtime rules are horrible and both teams should get the ball – Blah, blah blah, blah blah! This has been a running argument for years and decades, but nothing is being changed about it right now. I’m so sick of everyone saying that both teams should get a chance with the ball and that the game shouldn’t be decided on a coin flip. That’s funny…I didn’t think the coin flip decided the game tonight because if the Vikings wanted to get the ball and have a chance to score then the defense should have stopped the Saints’ offense en route to the game winning field goal by Garrett Hartley.
Deion Sanders said on NFL Network after the game that he would have “liked to have seen Brett Favre have a chance to win the game.” Interesting thought there Deion because I thought that Favre has close to 37 minutes of possession of the ball to win the game. Why didn’t he win it then? Seems he had his chance and didn’t do it.
Ladies and gentlemen, there are all sorts of conspiracy theorists out there that will pick this game apart for a long time and wonder why the Saints win and the Vikings were “robbed.” If so many people are making excuses for the Saints’ victory and the Vikings’ loss, then I feel I should give a few reasons for both of those occurrences.
- Vikings: 5 turnovers (3 lost fumbles out of 6 total and 2 interceptions)
- Drew Brees: 17/31 for 197 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
- Adrian Peterson’s hands
- Thomas Morstead: 7 punts for 359 yard for a 51.3 average
- Brett Favre forcing a throw across his body and across the field at the end of regulation when he could have run for a six yard gain at the very least. This is the exact same type of throw they warn rookies not to do because it will not work.
- Vikings’ 475 yards to the Saints’ 257 yards: I’m putting this stat because if you ask me, it’s a stat that should be showing a Minnesota victory and a New Orleans’ loss without it being the other way around.
There are reasons up and down for the way things ended up and the way they could have ended up. Don’t worry Minnesota fans, you’ll have something to talk about for the next six months anyway as you await Brett Favre’s retirement before he comes back at the end of training camp to try “one” more time.
My final word here before two weeks of Super Bowl Saints’ coverage is to congratulate the Minnesota Vikings on a great season and a game well played. They put together one hell of a gameplan and executed a lot of it to perfection, but not everything. Minnesota held in there for the whole game and into overtime before falling just short of their ultimate goal. I urge all Vikings’ fans though to not look at this season as a loss, but as a tremendous step forward. It was an excellent run and shows that this team has tremendous amounts of talent and a fantastic future ahead of them. One team just beat another team on Sunday and that’s all that can be said about that.
Now then…Who Dat? Who Dat? Who dat say dey gonn’ beat dem Saints. WHO DAT! Peyton Manning and the Colts? Here we come…to get you. Stay with me all this week for more NFC Championship coverage and then into next week for Super Bowl XLIV coverage galore. It’s on Saints’ fans and the party is just getting started.