The Vikings‘ plan against the Saints surely included scoring early and taking the crowd out of the game.
On their first possession, the Vikings did indeed drive the ball down the field, scoring a touchdown on Adrian Peterson‘s 19-yard run, and greatly reducing the enthusiasm of the Superdome crowd.
The Saints, unfortunately, got the crowd back in it on their own opening possession, when Drew Brees hooked up with Pierre Thomas for an electrifying 38-yard screen pass TD.
The game looked like it might degenerate into a shootout, but after one more score from each club, the defenses began making some plays, slowing down the pace of the game, forcing punts and keeping the score at 14-14 until late in the second quarter.
With time running out in the second, the Saints seemed to hand the Vikings a great opportunity when Reggie Bush muffed a punt, setting the Vikes up with the ball at the Saints’ 10. Unfortunately, Adrian Peterson saw a recurrence of his ball-handling issues and fumbled away a great chance to take a lead going into the half.
A big part of the story in the early game was the Saints’ hits on Brett Favre, which certainly hurt his 40-year-old body, but didn’t knock him off his game. Amidst the barrage, Favre was able to hit Sidney Rice for a touchdown pass.
Having withstood the Saints’ early punches, the Vikings now just need to win the second half and they will find themselves facing the Colts in the Super Bowl.