Saints Advance To Franchise-First Super Bowl

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - They sure ain't the Aints anymore.

The New Orleans Saints are heading to their first Super Bowl

after battering Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings 31-28 in

overtime Sunday on unheralded Garrett Hartley's 40-yard field goal.

The team that had no home five years ago after Hurricane Katrina

ravaged its city and the Superdome overcame a slew of mistakes in

the biggest game the Big Easy has ever seen.

But the biggest error was made by Favre. The 40-year-old

quarterback threw away Minnesota's chance for its first Super Bowl

trip in 33 years with an interception deep in Saints territory in

the final seconds of regulation.

New Orleans won the coin toss, Drew Brees guided it to the

Minnesota 22 and Hartley, suspended at the start of the season for

using a banned stimulant, split the uprights 4:45 into OT.

"Just helping my team get to Miami," Hartley said. "Just

doing my part."

Forget the paper bag masks and a long history of losing. Moments

after Hartley's kick, they were toasting their hometown winners on

Bourbon Street.

And in the Superdome, once a squalid refuge after Katrina, they

boogied in the aisles as confetti covered the field.

The Saints (15-3) will meet the Peyton Manning and the

Indianapolis Colts (16-2) in the Super Bowl in two weeks in Miami.

It's the first time the top seeds in each conference made the

big game since the 1993 season.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)