3Hard to believe, but the highest-scoring playoff game in history was decided by defense. In an unforgettable shootout in the desert, Arizona beat Green Bay in overtime, 51-45, when Karlos Dansby returned an Aaron Rodgers fumble 17 yards for a touchdown in sudden death. Warner, playing in what would be the last home game of his career, matched his career best with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Rodgers, making his first playoffs start, threw for a postseason-record 422 yards and four touchdowns. "That," Cardinals Coach Ken Whisenhunt said, "is probably one of the best games ever played in the playoffs." Yeah, but he won.
2Aints no longer, the New Orleans Saints reached their first Super Bowl when Garrett Hartley kicked a 40-yard field goal in overtime to beat Minnesota, 31-28. Statistically speaking, the Vikings had a far better game. But the Saints collected five turnovers, and beat the stuffing out of Favre, to pave the path to Miami. The Saints started 13-0 but lost their last three games. That made New Orleans the first team to reach the Super Bowl despite starting the postseason with a losing streak of three or more games. "The city is on its way to recovery, and in a lot of ways has come back better than ever," quarterback Drew Brees said. "We've used the strength and resiliency of our fans to go out and play every Sunday and play with the confidence that we can do it, that we can achieve everything we've set out to achieve."
As Good As It Gets
1Who Dat Nation rejoices! Making their first Super Bowl appearance in the 43-year history of the franchise, the Saints toppled the favored Colts, 31-17, in Super Bowl XLIV in South Florida. Brees played a remarkable game, tying Tom Brady's Super Bowl record with 32 completions and outplaying four-time most valuable player Manning. Cornerback Tracy Porter is the hero of the New Orleans defense, returning an interception 74 yards for a touchdown with three minutes to play and slamming the door on a team looking to win a second ring in four seasons. To a man, the Saints say they weren't just playing for their team, but for the entire storm-ravaged region. Finally, the Saints can plant their flag atop the NFL's mountaintop.