NFC Championship, Sunday, January 24, 2009 - Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints
Saints Coach Sean Payton
"It's hard to come up here and talk about the significance of that group of guys in the locker room and the significance of this win. I'm proud of them. I'm proud of our fans. I'm proud of the hard work it took to get us to this spot. It's a pretty special feeling. Any Questions?"
(on defense) "There was a lot of momentum shifts in that game. Just after the game ended I had a chance to visit with (Brett) Favre for about five minutes, and I've never seen two quarterbacks compete and two defenses hang in there, and the offensive lines play the way these did today. I tip my hat to Minnesota. You had two teams that played their hearts out. I'm glad we were able to win and I'm proud of just having a chance to coach these guys in a game like this. Garrett (Hartley) hit a big kick obviously, for us and we just kept fighting. The momentum shifted back and forth and we just kept battling and it was a heck of a game."
(on what he told Hartley) "I just told him there's a little fleur de lis up there right between both uprights, and I said why don't you see if you can hit this fleur de lis dead center. We belong, you are here for a reason and you are going to hit it through. He has just been real consistent for us and obviously it was a big kick."
(on the significance to this organization) "It's hard (to explain). Four years ago, there were holes in this roof. The fans in this city and this region deserve it. Like I said before, I'm just proud to be a part of it, to be part of something that is so special for this city and well deserved."
(on comparing now to when he first came to New Orleans) "There are a handful of coaches and players that were on that first team, and I would say to those players and coaches that aren't here now, they're just as much a part of this. They know who they are. I can't go through every one of the names, but there are a lot of people who came when no one else wanted to come. There a lot of coaches and a lot of players that aren't with us now, and I appreciate them."
(on fourth down call in OT) "I'm trying to think of the call, did we go for it? We weren't close enough for a field goal. We called everyone over and said, 'hey, look we've come this far.' Pierre (Thomas) ran behind those two guys and did a great job of getting the yard and a half we needed. It was significant."
(on the takeaways) "I know this; we came up with the turnover margin pretty significantly. I think five-to-one, so credit Minnesota at five-to-one and we win by a field goal. That's unusual."
(on Pierre Thomas) "He played hard. He battled. The screen play early in the game to answer their touchdown was significant when they went up seven-nothing it was kind of like last week. He made a bunch of big plays. He's been a big part of what we've done so I'm happy with the way he played."
(on playing the Colts and Peyton Manning in the Superbowl) "He's a special player. We had a chance to watch some of his game today and then we turned it off. The four best teams played today, and the first half of that game, the little bit that we got to watch, we saw two AFC teams playing their hearts out. It's a credit to Indianapolis and Peyton (Manning). Its been a while since the number one seeds met and we are excited to be in this game and look forward to the challenge."
Saints QB Drew Brees
"It's a pretty surreal moment. Words just can't describe the feeling. You think back to four years ago, coming here post-Katrina, Sean Payton's first year. I'll remember forever the phone call that he gave me, telling me they wanted me to be their quarterback. We had a goal and a dream back then. There was this opportunity to play for a Super Bowl Championship It feels great.
"It's unbelievable. I think you can draw so many parallels between our team and our city, but in reality we kind of leaned on each other in order to survive and in order to get to where we are now. The city is on its way to recovery and in a lot of ways it's back better than ever. For us as a team, we use the strength and resilience of our fans. We go out and play every Sunday and go out with the confidence to do it. We're going to achieve everything we've set out to achieve. It's been one step at a time. It hasn't always been easy. We've had to fight through plenty of adversity just like this city has. We know what it's meant to thus far to this community, not only the regular season, but also being able to host two playoffs games, what it did for this economy and what it did for the spirit of this city and these people."
"It's probably going to be nuts around here for a little bit, but that's expected and we're excited about that. It was about as loud as I've ever heard in the dome today. It seems like it only gets louder. Certainly when you look at the weight of this game and what it meant to go out and get a victory, we couldn't have done it without our fans. Certainly it was an all around team effort. It feels so good to know what we've given our fans a championship, an NFC Championship. We've got another championship we're now going after for them. It's good to know we've given our fans a championship, an NFC championship. We've got another championship here we'll be going after for them in a couple of weeks.
"He (Brett Favre) battled. He's a warrior, always has been. He's a guy who has played for such a long time. I remember watching him when he was in middle school. Here I am now, nine years into my career, playing against him in an NFC Championship game. The guy's unbelievable. He battled. He's a competitor. He always fights to the end and he gave such a good effort. Their entire team did. This was a hard fought game. I'm just glad we came out on the winning end.
"I have to give a lot of credit to them because they played very well defensively. It seemed like we were just this far off in a couple of big plays in the passing game, right off a guys fingertips or whatever. We missed a couple of third down conversions by inches. We had a couple penalties that we shouldn't have had. Way too many three and outs. That's something that stands out. We didn't possess the ball. I felt like when we got the first first down and two first downs into it we were going down the field and scoring, but there were way too many times when we couldn't get something going and all of a sudden we're having to punt the ball and leave our defense on the field. We left our defense out there entirely too long. What kept us in the game was their ability to get some turnovers. That's the most telling statistic in football. It always is. You win the turnover battle, the chances of winning go way up."
"It doesn't get any easier. We know the type of team the Colts are, the type of organization that they are and have been for a long time. They're a dynasty in their own right. The season they've had, the season we've had, I can't think of two better teams to meet in the Super Bowl. I know there's going to be a lot of storylines obviously with Peyton (Manning) being from New Orleans and all those things, but the fact is there's two great teams that's going to be playing two Sundays from now."
(on facing three consecutive Hall of Fame quarterbacks in the playoffs) "You're talking about three future Hall of Famers, so I guess it doesn't get any better than that."
(on if you learn more about your offense on a night like this where they struggle at times) "Yes, because in the end, you have to play the field position game at times. When things aren't going the way you want out there, especially in a game like this you have to stay calm, stay the course, trust the plan and understand that the most important thing is we're taking care of the football, not turning it over on a short field, which I felt like we did a good job of offensively, not turnovers on the offensive side, except one on special teams. Sometimes you're going to have hone them on in, play the field position game a little bit and just kind of wait for your opportunities and take advantage of them when you get them.
"If anyone thinks we didn't earn this win today, they weren't watching the same we were. This was one of the toughest games I think I've played in and I'm not saying that just because we won and we're going to the Super Bowl. This was such an up-and-down game, a roller coaster game. It seemed like no calls were going our way 99 percent of the time and finally toward the end we had some calls go our way. It seemed like they had eight fumbles and got seven of them back. It was just one of those games where you don't ever give up because you don't know what is going to happen.
"Jimmy Johnson came and spoke to our team toward the end of the week and he told us that you can't prepare for one thing because you don't know what's going to happen in these types of games. All you can do is prepare yourself for everything and just take it as it comes. Whatever happens in a game, just take it for what it is and try to do whatever you can to win the game. Like I said, things that happen in this game today- it was such an emotional game for us.
(on the muffed punt) "I knew their punter was going to hit it deep and there wasn't going to be too many balls that weren't going to be returned. I felt like on that punt when I saw him hit it I thought he shortchanged it and I guess one of their guys got down the field fast enough to disrupt me catching the ball and once I caught it I thought I saw room and had space to make a move but obviously I didn't. It such a gut-wrenching feeling when that happens. I don't care what game you're playing in even if it's a preseason game. It's still a gut-wrenching feeling.
(on Minnesota's five turnovers) "One of the things that we preach all the time is turnovers and turnover results. With all the turnovers they had- it was like they had a thousand turnovers but got all of them back. I was like if we could just get one of those fumbles, but we ended up getting the turnovers and they were a key to this victory. Unfortunately, we were not able to produce as many points off the turnovers as we would have liked but never the less we got a W and are headed to the Super Bowl.
(on the play of the Saints' defense) "Our defense is one of the main reasons on why we're going to the Super Bowl and the way they played today. With all of the BS they've taken throughout this season and especially toward the end of the season, they played like absolute monsters today with all of the turnovers they forced today. Words just can't describe how great they played today.
"Our game this week, we preached ball security because the Minnesota Vikings had actually forced a lot of turnovers. I think they led the league in forced fumbles. We were obviously made aware of that and it just so happened that our defense gave us that opportunity."
Saints K Garrett Hartley
"I just knew when it came off my foot that it was going to split the pipes.
"Definitely, the season's been a roller-coaster ride, from the offseason until now.
"Here's the funny thing. Last night, I couldn't sleep too well. I called my dad (Bill) at 2:15 in the morning, and told him I had a feeling I was going to hit the game-winner from 42 yards on the right hash. I think I was two yards off.
"They kind of just leave me alone before the kick. (Anthony) Hargrove tried to come over before the kick, and I just said no, no, no.
"It was fate for this team to head to Miami to head to the Super Bowl this year. I'm just honored to be a part of it."
(on how it feels going to the Super Bowl) "We've put a lot of hard work since the beginning of the season. It has been our goal and to see it unfold is happiness. It's really gratifying with all of the hard work that we have put in."
(on where he was for Garrett Hartley's kick) "I don't really know. It hasn't hit me yet. I don't really know what I was thinking. I feel relieved. I feel spent. Fortunately, we won and have something else to look forward to."
CB Tracy Porter
(on causing the fumble) "These guys have a habit of fighting for extra yards when they catch the ball. The ball is going to be out there. I knew he was going to try to break the tackle and I just punched it out."
(on his interception at the end of regulation) "We knew that (Favre) liked to scramble and he's a guy that can throw across his body. I did happen to read his eyes. He was looking at Rice the whole time and I just happened to make a play on the ball."
DT Anthony Hargrove
(on how far he has come in a year) "This is a story that people need to hear. You just put together one day at a time. A year ago I was sitting and praying that someone would give me an opportunity. Now, I am sitting here an NFC champion. I have a journal at home and I am going to look at today's date a year ago and see where I was. I would like to see where my mind was at and my thoughts for that day. It is just crazy. I don't really know what to say right now. It is a fairy tale. I don't want to wake up. I have one more game to go though."
LB Scott Shanle
(on if the defense won it or the Minnesota offense lost it) "We won it. It came down to making plays. Tracy Porter made that interception. If he doesn't make that interception, then they still have a chance at that field goal.
Our offense gets the ball in overtime and takes it right down the field on them. Garrett Hartley makes the field goal. To me there were a whole lot of opportunities out there that the game shouldn't have been even close. I thought that we should have run away with it. There were a lot of balls on the ground that bounced right back to them. We could have had eight or nine turnovers. We fought all of the way until the end and we deserve to win it."
LB Scott Fujita
(on if he was surprised about Favre's throw on the Porter INT) "No, I'm not surprised. He is a risk taker and it usually works out well for him. Tonight was our night."
(on the importance of turnovers tonight) "Today everyone created turnovers. It came down to who was the more physical team. That's an offense that knows what they want to do with the ball. They moved the ball really well. That ball was on the ground a whole lot. I think when we look at the film tomorrow we are going to see that we outhit that team. It at least feels that way at this point."
DE Bobby McCray
(on facing their offense) "They are a good team that we went into overtime with. They fought hard. Adrian Peterson kept pumping his legs. They did a good job, but we were able to get the win."
DE Will Smith
(on pressuring Brett Favre) "We got to him a lot. We thought that if we hit him a lot that he would start making mistakes. A couple of balls that he threw should have been intercepted, but we dropped them. We just wanted to keep coming after him and keep hitting him. We tried to make him feel as uncomfortable as possible. He got hurt and wasn't able to move like he did in the first half."
WR Devery Henderson
(on TD reception) "I have the option to run that route if he gets in trouble. We practice it all of the time. (Brees) tells me to stay alive. It came open and I saw it. I broke the route out."
(on what it means to be in the Super Bowl) "It feels great and it's a blessing. We've worked for it. We put together a good team. We stuck together and got there."
T Jon Stinchcomb
(on how far Saints have come since Hurricane Katrina) "We really hit rock bottom that year. This whole city went through a lot. It has been a long road. We all came together as a city and a team. Heading to Miami shows how far we've come."