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
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.