There's no place like Saturday...

January 24, 2010

Game Analysis: NFC Championship Game

I cant believe it....wasn't a buttered ball.

New Orleans Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings

With numerous Pro Bowlers and All-Pro players to go around for the Saints, kicker Garret Heartly seemed like the unlikely hero in Sunday's NFC Championship game. However, facing one of the leagues most tenacious defenses in the Vikings, the game was most likely going to come down to a kick with the heroics coming from Heartly.

The 23 year old from Oklahoma booted the 40 yard field goal in overtime sending the Saints into the Super Bowl and the Vikings back to Minnesota. Viewers got what was expected: a high scoring Saints offense, a resilient Brett Favre, an inspired Saints crowd and a fumble or two out of Adrian Peterson.

Peterson, whos fumbles weren't lost, wasn't the only one letting the ball loose for the Vikings. Five turnovers in all plagued the men in purple and white, a statistic no team can win with and no coach can live with. Favre threw two interceptions, and fumbled once. Widouts Percy Harvin and Bernard Berrian layed it on the ground each once as well.
A back-and-forth battle all night long it was only fitting it go to overtime. Only because of the sudden death overtime of the NFL did this one actually came to an end. It may have continued on for quite a while, if we were playing college rules; at least until the Vikings next turnover.

All joking aside though, the two played a tremendous game. Brees threw three scores to go along with 197 yards. Peterson ran for 122 tough yards and three scores and the now fully healthy Berrian brought in nine catches for 102 yards.

The only question I'm left with now is where was the Vikings defensive line? One of perhaps the best defensive lines in a decade was seemingly unheard of. All-Pro end Jared Allen was held to just two tackles and no sacks. While the Saints defense played with a mean streak and continually went for the ball while tackling. Every tackle made by New Orleans was delivered with purpose. They were flat out, outhitting the Vikings in this one.

It may be the last time we see the legendary Brett Favre strut his stuff in a Purple and Gold uniform....or Green and Yellow....or Green and White...or, well you get the point. It was one of the first games this year that the 40 year old Favre could do little for his team. Possibly the last pass he'll throw in the NFL was an interception coming at the end of regulation. The pressure and constant hits were too much to overcome. So if it is the last time. Congratulations on an illustrious career old man.

Final: 31-28 OT Saints

It was over when....Kicker Garret Hartley nailed a 40 yard kick in overtime right down the middle of the goal posts. It's never over until the fat lady sings and she was singing after that. Bourbon Street was rocking and Hartley was covered and crushed by teammates in celebration. He even got the post-game interview.

Stat of the Game.....
475-to-257. The Vikings actually out gained the Saints in total offense by 218 yards. It is a game of field position however, and turnovers go a long way in games like this. You don't need to rack up yards when you get the ball inside the 35 yard line.

Hats off to.....
Saints punter, Thomas Morstead. Another 23 year old with a leg for the Saints. A 51.3 average helped the often unnoticed game of field position for the Saints. Morstead blasted seven punts for 359 yards, including 4 inside the 20.

Whats next....
For the Saints, their first ever Super Bowl. A match-up between two of the games best quarterbacks in Manning and Brees in Miami. For the Vikings it's back to the snow, instead of the sun. Perhaps they're in the market for a quarterback as well. Or at least until Favre wants to come back.

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All writing and views subject to © Drew P. Kochanny, All Rights Reserved. Photo's credited to rights owner.