Tuesday Moring Running Back: New Orleans Saints March Into Super Bowl

Dan PieroniCorrespondent IJanuary 26, 2010

Once upon a time, there was team in New Orleans that was the laughingstock of the NFL.

With very few star players, and a winning season occurring once in a blue moon, the fans became restless and impatient.

New Orleans was the only place in the NFL where a paper bag over one's head was not only a fashion statement but a way of life.

But then, as it is often the case in the NFL, fate intervened.

A young quarterback, who was on the brink of signing a lucrative deal with the San Diego Chargers, tore his labrum muscle in the final game of the season.

The Chargers, not wanting to overpay for damaged goods, cut him loose.

Only the Saints and the Miami Dolphins showed interest.

But when Drew Brees took a tour of New Orleans and saw people still reeling from the tragedy that was Hurricane Katrina, he knew that coming to New Orleans was a win -win situation.

For Brees, it meant a chance to prove his doubters wrong by showing he could be an elite quarterback in the NFL by leading a bad team to the top of the heap.

For the city itself it represented an opportunity to recover through football, since Drew Brees was going to be the biggest draw to the Superdome since Archie Manning.

So when Brees inked a six-year contract to come to the bayou, expectations were high.

Coupled with the smart and daring mind of head coach Sean Payton, and the bruising running styles of Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, Brees spearheaded an explosive offensive attack which won their first 13 games this season.

However, they lost their last three, and many wondered if the Saints would be a major disappointment because they appeared to have run out of gas.

But Brees showed his leadership ability by destroying the Cardinals secondary and proving that his team belonged right where they were.

On Sunday, he did not have the best game of his career, but was intelligent enough to keep his team in it.

That manifested itself on the foot of young Garrett Hartley, who kicked a game-winning field goal in overtime to give the Saints a thrilling 31-28 overtime victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

Now Brees and his band of fun-loving who dater's are one game away from never having to pay for a drink on Bourbon Street for the rest of their lives.

How will this story end? we'll find out in 12 days.

Idle thoughts on the Conference Championship games:

  • The Saints defense has prided itself on creating turnovers all season. The fact that they forced five of them on Sunday was not surprising
  • Apparently Brett Favre did not learn from his mistake of two years ago when he was picked off by Corey Webster in the NFC Championship game. You can't risk throwing a pass over the middle late in a tie game.
  • Another thing that killed the Vikings was the 12 men on the field penalty on the same drive. There's no excuse for a getting a penalty because you forgot to count how men are in the huddle.
  • The Sporting News reported yesterday that Garrett Hartley called his father at 2:15 in the morning on Sunday and told him he would nail a 42-yard field goal to win the game. Ironically, that's exactly what happened.
  • There's no truth to the rumor that because of the nine fumbles that transpired during it, the NFC Championship game will forever be known as the "Butterfingers Bowl."
  • I'm not surprised that the Jets blew an 11-point lead in the second half. As I said last week, Peyton Manning is too experienced and too good a quarterback for the Jets to contain.
  • It was a touching moment when Colts WR Pierre Garcon raised a Haitian flag as a remembrance of his friends and family back home to celebrate his team's win.
  • Sooner or later, the Jets defense's penchant for blowing late leads was going to catch up with them. Especially if they blew late leads against teams such as Atlanta and Miami.
  • Speaking of Miami, put your smart money on the Colts if you're betting on the Super Bowl since both of the Colts previous Super Bowl wins were in that city.
  • As much as it pains me to say this, Mark Sanchez played better than I thought he would on Sunday and during the season. I admire his courage in making sure that his last pass of the year was a completion even if it was meaningless, so the bad taste of an interception wouldn't linger long into the off season.
  • Next week is my bye week since I could care less about the overglorified meaninglessness that is the Pro Bowl . See you in two weeks for Super Bowl analysis.



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