Now that the euphoria of the Saints win over the Vikings and first ever Super Bowl berth has subsided a bit it’s a good time to look at the NFC Championship game more closely.
Allot has also been made about the battering that Brett Favre took at the hands of the Saints, football is a contact sport and you cant fault the Saints for going after Favre in an attempt to thwart the Vikings passing attack.
Let’s try and pull it together football fans and call it what it was, good defense, and move on.
So what were the keys to the Saints victory over the Vikings, ironically enough it was the aforementioned defense that stole show.
Minnesota was able to drop 475 yards of offense on the Saints throughout the course of the game, 310 by Favre through the air and another 165 on the ground with 122 of those yards coming courtesy of Adrian Peterson.
Compared to the Saints offensive output of 257 yards, 189 passing and 68 rushing, Minnesota played more like the number one offense in the NFL than New Orleans did.
But statistics can be deceiving.
Although they gave up a ton of yardage to the Vikings they were able to cause a bonanza of turnovers, which has been there MO throughout the regular season.
In fact the Saints were best in the league at forcing turnovers (39) which was a huge contributor to their 13 win season, on the flip side they lost the last three games of the season after forcing no turnovers.
To put it in perspective for you the Saints relentlessness forced six Viking fumbles (three recovered by the Saints) and two interceptions, a 5 to 1 turnover ratio for the game.
Simply put Williams aggressive scheme and relentless pass rush paid dividends and helped propel the Saints to their first ever Super Bowl berth
More importantly two of the Vikings fumbles came in the red zone preventing possible scores and keeping the game close for New Orleans who’s offense was unable to put up scores.
Perhaps even more important than the red zone turnovers was Saints corner back Tracy Porter’s interception of Favre in the waining moments of the fourth quarter.
Favre was attempting to get the Vikings into field goal range and with 19 seconds remaining a time out was called by Minnesota on the 33 yard line, setting up a penalty that will live in infamy.
During the timeout the Vikings had some confusion with their personnel package and sent twelve men into the huddle, unfortunately the ref took notice and called too many men in the huddle which then pushed them back to the 38 yard line.
That five yards forced Favre to have to pass it, rather then run it, to get in field goal range and what happened from there we all know to well at this point.
Porters interception forces overtime, the Saints win the coin toss, Pierre Thomas opens up overtime with a 39 yard return, a pass interference call on Minnesota’s A.Allen that gives the Saints a first down, Pierre Thomas’ fourth and one plunge for another first down, pass interference on Ben Leber for 12 yards followed by kicker Garrett Hartley’s forty yard field goal right down the middle.
You couldn’t have written it any better.
New Orleans was expected to use it’s high octane offense to jet past the Vikings, instead it was an opportunistic defense lead by coordinator Gregg Williams that was the key to the game ,oh and a little Saints faith as well.
Super Bowl XLIV get ready for the Black and Gold.
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