Saints are heading to Super Bowl XLIV
Louisiana State Newspapers
The New Orleans Saints' are Super Bowl bound after an exciting overtime victory over the Minnesota Vikings, 31-28.
The NFC Championship game remained close all the way through, with both teams tied 14-14 at the half and 28-28 at the end of regulation. The Saints sealed their victory with a 40-yard field goal in overtime by a very green Garrett Hartley.
The Vikings struck first on the scoreboard with a 19-yard run by Adrian Peterson. The Saints wasted no time answering back. Drew Brees completed a 38-yard pass to Pierre Thomas for the score. Before the first quarter ended, the Vikings put up another score, this time with a Brett Favre pass to Sidney Rice.
Both offenses struggled in the second quarter. The Saints only gained a total of 81 yards on four drives and the Vikings managed 105 yards on four drives. While the Vikings were unable to score in the second quarter, the Saints tied the game up with a Brees pass to Devery Henderson.
The third and fourth quarters remained close. Both teams scored one touchdown in each quarter, making the score at the end of regulation 28-28. It was exciting right up until the end as both teams fought to put the game away. The Vikings had a chance in the final seconds of the fourth quarter to pick up the victory but an interception thrown by Favre ended the drive.
The overtime period was no less dramatic with two booth reviews during the Saints' drive. The first review was for the spot of the football on the Saints' 4th and inches run. Pierre Thomas leaped for the first down and lost possession of the football. Upon review the referee determined the spot was accurate. The second review was to determine if wide receiver Robert Meachem completed a catch for a 12-yard gain that put the Saints within field goal range. It appeared as if Meachem bobbled the ball on his way to the ground. Again, the referee reviewing the play called it a catch and the Saints were only 40 yards away from victory.
It all rested on the shoulders of kicker Garrett Hartley, who is only in his second year. Hartley famously missed a field goal at the end of New Orlean's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A game the Saints then lost in overtime. However, this time, Hartley came through with flying colors, splitting the uprights for three points and the win.
The Saints will now face the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl. Earlier in the day, the Colts defeated the New York Jets 30-17.