Like so many of the current Saints players, he had arrived in New Orleans through a combination of happenstance and skillful management: When a highly prized draft pick failed to deliver for the Saints as expected and was suddenly cut (Taylor Mehlhaff), the undrafted, unsigned Hartley was picked up by a Saints staff that has shown such a keen eye for talent. It was perfectly fitting that he should be the one to come through in the clutch.
Minnesota Vikings with a constant, mind-riveting din. Vocal chords strained, lungs burst. It is difficult to imagine past Saints crowds chanting the intimidating roar “Here We Come to Get You” the way this crowd did, unleashing every bit of fury they had in reserves. A classic NFL game was born, one in which glory was won and legends were created; one in which a season of “sweat and strife” reached its crescendo. Like two heavyweights pummeling each other, after a seesaw battle of wills with the Saints and Vikings constantly daring each other while never yielding, Hartley’s kick finished the matter in an instant. After a 28–28 mammoth tilt leading to sudden-death overtime, the Saints won the championship 31–28. Before that moment, it seemed that the citizens of New Orleans were determined
to reverse course. No longer would they fail, no longer would they lose, no longer would they be disappointed by unseen fates. The past, present and future came together and the team and its fans, the city and its citizens were winners. For a people who harbored and treasured whole troves of kernels of quixotically heroic events in the midst of lost seasons like Tom Dempsey’s 63-yard kick, John
Gilliam’s inaugural scoring kickoff return, the arrival of Bum Phillips and Jim Mora’s Dome Patrol defenses, the release was palpable and defining. The Saints had been hanging on a precipice for hours and that kick cut the binds of despair with a shockingly swift, devastating, easy stroke, as though a medieval samurai had personally intervened to settle an irresolvable dispute by executing one of the parties–the Vikings.
stores selling Saints merchandise, street vendors and businesses of all kinds. By the end of the Super Bowl, the city’s coffers might
just flow to such an extent that several much-needed programs will now be funded.