Until Sunday, it looked as if the return of Brett Favre to the NFL would have a storybook ending and propel the Minnesota Vikings to the Superbowl. Instead, the New Orleans Saints will be heading to the Superbowl for the first time in franchise history. Garrett Hartley nailed a 40 yard field goal in overtime to give the Saints a 31-28 victory in the NFC Championship game after Brett Favre was intercepted deep in Saints territory during the final seconds of regulation. Favre may be headed back to retirement, while the Saints are headed to Miami to play the biggest game of them all.
The Indianapolis Colts offense was in high gear as Peyton Manning threw two TD passes in three series of action, leaving backup Curtis Painter with a 14-0 lead over the Philadelphia Eagles before exiting the game. The Colts would eventually depend as much on their defense as their offense over the course of the subsequent NFL season but on this day the Colts went on to win 23-15 in NFL preseason action at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Reigning lightweight champ BJ Penn entered his main event battle against welterweight kingpin Georges St. Pierre looking to become the first man in UFC history to simultaneously hold titles in two weight classes. GSP never gave him the chance to make history, as he stopped Penn after four increasingly dominant rounds to retain his belt with a TKO victory.
Even when the games don’t count and the starters play little, if at all, the Baltimore Ravens hate to lose. Despite the Atlanta Falcons starting QB Matt Ryan playing only one series and with the Ravens third string signal caller John Beck playing the entire game it was apparent that Baltimore wanted the victory more. The former BYU standout threw for 232 yards and a pair of touchdown passes as the Ravens easily beat the Atlanta Falcons 20-3 at the Georgia Dome. The victory gave the Ravens an undefeated NFL preseason mark at 4-0, while the Falcons finished the exhibition campaign with a 2-2 record.
The NBA All Star game was played without a couple of high profile participants this year as the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant and Philadelphia 76ers’ Allen Iverson would not play due to injury. Kobe and ‘AI’ were the latest in a string of injuries to All Star players that also claimed Portland’s Brandon Roy and New Orleans’ Chris Paul. The NBA has been much more strict about attendance at the All Star game since a number of players skipped out with dubious injuries.