NEW ORLEANS -- Who Dat!
Two Dat! Being the new slogan for the New Orleans Saints and their quest to retain the Super Bowl.
The Saints took the first step on what hopes to be another incredible journey Thursday night when in the National Football League kickoff they edged the Minnesota Vikings 14-9.
The last time the teams met was in the NFC championship game, won 31-28 by the Saints in overtime.
It was a game in which the Vikings felt cheated and left a bad taste in their mouth through the winter and spring.
It was a game in which they dominated statistically but were undone by five turnovers, a game in which they believed they beat themselves rather then being beat by New Orleans.
But the Vikings can't make that claim this time around as they were simply defeated by the better team to the delight of a ear-splitting raucous crowd of 70,051 that came close to blowing off the lid of the Superdome.
"It's a big win, a real good win for our team," said Saints coach Sean Payton. "It's a big win for our team. We're excited about it. We'll take it. We made enough plays to start the season 1-0."
Save for the second quarter, Vikings veteran quarterback Brett Favre simply did not look sharp and he wasn't helped any by the Saints aggressive secondary which broke up seven of his passes.
In the second half, the Saints defence did a complete shutdown on the Vikings, holding them to just one first down.
"The defence did a very god job for us," Payton understated.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees, meanwhile, did just enough to win and spread the ball around as he completed passes to nine different receivers.
In the second quarter, the Saints surprisingly went to their running game with Pierre Thomas carrying the heavy load and chewing up the clock.
On the night he gained 71 tough yards on 19 carries.
"Once we got into the second half we were able to establish the run and that proved to be important," Payton said. "I'm real pleased with the way we finished the game against that team (running out the clock)."
Brees ended the game good on 27 of 36 passes for 237 yards while Favre was 15-for-27 for 171 yards and one interception.
In the NFC championship, it was field-goal kicker Garrett Hartley who split the uprights in overtime to send the Vikings to the sidelines and the Saints to the Super Bowl.
But this night he was almost the goat as he missed two critical field goals -- wide left on a 46-yard attempt in the second quarter and wide left again on a chip shot from the 32 with his team up 14-9.
But it didn't cost them.
With Favre inconsistent through the air, the big horse for the Vikings as expected was running back Adrian Peterson who gained 87 yards on 19 carries.
Trailing 9-7 at the half, the Saints forced Minnesota into a three and out to start the third quarter and then, as they did to start the game, rolled down the field to score a go-ahead touchdown on a one-yard plunge.
The Saints started on their own 26 and drove 74 yards on 11 plays taking 6:43 off the clock thanks to eight running plays, the bulk of them by Thomas, who scored the TD.
Favre could get nothing go for the Vikings who had three, three and outs for the quarter.