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Super Bowl XLIV Preview

    <span style="">The New Orleans Saints will make their first Super Bowl appearance in club history when they will face the [Indianapolis Colts]( at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. on Sunday, February 7. The Saints clinched the berth with one of the most dramatic victories in franchise history, a 31-28 overtime decision over the [Minnesota Vikings]( in the NFC Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome.   

The Saints set one of many club records on the season when they won their first 13 games, captured the NFC South title in the process and securing the conference's number one seed for the postseason. In the Divisional Playoff, the Saints defeated the Arizona Cardinals 45-14 to advance to host the Vikings for the right to go to South Florida.

Before a crowd of 71,276, the largest ever to view a Saints game in the Superdome, the Vikings scored on their first offensive possession. Although New Orleans quickly responded when QB Drew Brees found RB Pierre Thomas on a screen pass and Thomas ran through a host of several would-be Vikings defenders the final 38 yards and into the end zone. The Vikings took the ball back and immediately marched down the field with QB Brett Favre throwing a five-yard touchdown pass to take a 14-7 lead.

When the Saints took the ball for the first time in the second quarter. Brees marched the Saints down the field and tossed nine-yard touchdowns throw to WR Devery Henderson that once again tied the score.

Coming out of the locker room at halftime, WR/KR Courtney Roby returned the opening kickoff 61 yards, setting up a short field for the Saints. Four plays later, Thomas punched the ball in for a touchdown from nine yards in to give the Saints their first lead of the game, 21-14. When the Vikings got the ball back, Peterson concluded a long Vikings drive by punching it in from one yard out to tie the score.

The two clubs traded scores again in the fourth quarter. At the beginning of the fourth stanza, DE Will Smith forced Vikings WR Percy Harvin to fumble and the ball was picked up by DT Remi Ayodele at the Minnesota 12-yard line and advanced the ball to the seven. Three plays later Brees connected with RB Reggie Bush on a four-yard pass near the sideline for a touchdown. In the middle of the final quarter, Peterson scored his third touchdown on a two-yard run to knot the score again. With the game tied at 28-28, the Vikings were at the 33-yard line with 25 seconds left.

Minnesota was subsequently called for a penalty for having 12 men on the field and then on the next play CB Tracy Porter picked off Favre to save the game and guarantee overtime.

After winning the overtime coin flip, Pierre Thomas took the kickoff 40 yards, filling in for a nicked up Roby and the Saints eventually advanced the ball to the Minnesota 22 yard line, where K Garrett Hartley lined up on fourth down and booted a 40-yard field goal to advance New Orleans as the ninth different NFC Super Bowl participant in as many years.

DATE: Sunday, Feb. 7
TIME: 5:25 (CT)
SITE: Sun Life Stadium

WORTH NOTING: The Saints now have a 4-6 all-time record in the postseason, 4-3 at home, and 3-1 under the direction of Head Coach Sean Payton...QB Drew Brees tied his playoff career-high with three touchdown passes, as he completed 17-of-31 passes for 197 yards in the NFC Championship. Brees' career postseason passer rating of 100.6 is the third highest all-time of passers with a minimum of 150 attempts. He will become the first Texas native to start at QB in a Super Bowl...The game will be nationally televised on CBS with Jim Nantz handling play-by-play and Phil Simms serving as color analyst...The game can heard regionally on the Saints Radio Network (870 AM or 105.3 FM locally) with Jim Henderson handling play-by-play, Hokie Gajan serving as color analyst and Kristian Garic reporting from the New Orleans sidelines...A national radio broadcast will also be available on Westwood One with Marv Albert handling play-by-play, Boomer Esiason serving as color analyst and James Lofton and Mark Malone on the sidelines...A Spanish language broadcast is available locally on WFNO 830 AM with Emilio Peralta handling play-by-play and Marco Garcia serving as color analyst.

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