The Saints escaped death when Favre, with the ball in Saints territory, threw an unforgivable interception with eight seconds left in the fourth quarter. They won the toss to start overtime, got a good return from Pierre Thomas and drove for a game-winning field goal by Garrett Hartley. The key play of the drive was a fourth down conversion by Thomas, That means New Orleans is going to the Super Bowl for the first time and, once again, Vikings fans are left wondering what could have been.
The star-crossed franchise, losers of three Super Bowls and two other NFC title games, couldn't get out of their own way on Sunday. They turned the ball over five times, including one other Favre interception, picked up brutal penalties in overtime and suffered as Brad Childress coached his way out of a chance to win the game at the end of regulation by being unprepared and overly conservative. It's up to you to rank which of the mistakes wound up costing the team the most, but our money is on Favre's mindless interception at the end of regulation.
Favre rolled out right, where he had loads of running room and an open receiver in front of him but chose to throw back across his body where Tracy Porter picked him off and helped send the Saints to Miami. It's the kind of play that has marked most of Favre's recent seasons, but one that the Vikings didn't see much of this season. In the end, the old dog couldn't change his ways enough to lift his team to victory.
Plays like that helped the Saints overcome a huge deficit in yardage and total plays. Their offense put up points when given short fields in the second half, but Drew Brees and company looked out of sync for most of the final 30-plus minutes. The Vikings kept giving them chances, though, and the Saints set off a wild celebration when Hartley's kick sailed home early in the overtime period.