The New Orleans Saints were lucky to come out of the NFC Championship game after getting outplayed by the Vikings in almost all facets of the game. The only stat that was in their advantage was turnovers. Had it not been for the five turnovers in the game, the Vikings would have won that game. Granted, the Saints did force most of the fumbles, but I felt like they couldn’t move the ball and their defense was a half of step too slow. That is why I am not excited about this Super Bowl. I think that both the Colts’ offense and defense are better than the Saints. The Saints have looked like Swiss cheese on defense as of late and they are now going up against one of the most prolific offenses in recent history. That doesn’t bode well for a team that has given up at least 23 points per game in the last seven games. I think the wonderful, feel-good story of the Saints is going to end in Super Bowl XLIV as the Colts will be too much.
Sean Payton joined WWL in New Orleans to talk about the defense creating turnovers and how it helped them win the game, the toughness that Brett Favre and Pierre Thomas displayed Sunday, and the play of their special teams and how it made a difference in the game.
On the defense creating turnovers and how it helped them win the game:
“Bobby (Hebert) there is no question. There were so many momentum swings and the turnovers that we were able to create, the one right before the half was critical and the ones that came in the second half. In a playoff game and regular season football as well, when you can finish +4 your chances of winning really skyrocket. That ended up being really the difference. It was a difference a year ago and again I can’t emphasize enough the importance of that game being played at home. I thought that Minnesota did a pretty good job with the noise. You don’t know when it is going to happen but all of the sudden late in the game there is twelve guys on the field. That is a communication error and the fans get a piece of this one. We don’t have 500,000 game balls to give out but if we did, everyone would get one this week and it was huge.”
On the toughness that Brett Favre and Pierre Thomas displayed Sunday:
“Well there is no question and I had a chance to visit with Brad Childress over the phone and just congratulate him and his team. I think the fans on TV or at the stadium really had to be proud at just the quality of the game. To see a guy like Brett and compete the way that he did… I was speechless afterwards when we had a chance just to hug and I told him that I was proud of just being on the field and watched what I just saw. Pierre came in and really the key play that I thought in overtime was the kick return. That got us to midfield and certainly the fourth and one call was a big run and our lineman did a good job at just getting enough push and that is a tremendous defense and a defense that we have a ton of respect for but I thought both teams, and hats off to Minnesota, for the way they came in and played. I thought that really when you look at it you saw the two best teams in the NFC really battling and leaving everything out on the field. I think from a fan’s perspective, even if you aren’t a Saints fan, you really had to appreciate the game.”
On the play of their defensive tackles:
“There is no question I was just proud of the effort. They just kept coming. We used a good rotation where one of the keys was just to really try to affect the quarterback as best as we can. Brett is one of those guys that is like Drew where he doesn’t take a lot of sacks because he gets rid of the ball so fast but there is a number of those hits that ultimately can affect a guy. You played the position and you can understand that it is like boxing. After a while those body shots take their toll and all of the sudden we get the interception by Tracey and it ends up being the difference in the game.”
On the play of their special teams and how it made a difference in the game:
“No question. Greg McMahon and Mike Mallory were outstanding yesterday cause you don’t understand it but when you are coaching the kicking game you got guys that get nicked up and you have to make subtle adjustments, guys are going in and out of the lineup. Malcolm Jenkins, who has been a big contributor for us, was inactive because of injury. When you look at the play over a season of a fifth round draft pick in Thomas Moorestead and what he has been able to do in regards to changing field position and then the play of Garrett Hartley. Here he is and everyone in the city is just waiting on his forty-yard kick and he hits it dead center. There is just so many things to be proud of. The core guys on the special teams, Troy Evans and all of those guys. Marvin Mitchell. They just played lights out.”