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New Orleans Saints to meet Indianapolis in Super Bowl

Drew Brees

Brees leads New Orleans to first Super Bowl

By Martin Gough

The New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts will meet in the Super Bowl after two thrilling conference title games.

The Saints beat the Minnesota Vikings 31-28 in overtime to advance to the NFL finale for the first time.

And quarterback Peyton Manning threw three touchdown passes as Indianapolis rallied from 17-6 down for a 30-17 win over the New York Jets.

The Colts return to Miami, where they won the title three years ago, for Super Bowl XLIV on 7 February.

It's a moment I've been waiting for for a long time and obviously we're not done yet

Saints quarterback Drew Brees

But much of the attention will focus on New Orleans, who were cheered on to victory in the Louisiana Superdome, restored after it was at the centre of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina four years ago.

"This is for everybody in this city," said coach Sean Payton. "This stadium used to have holes in it and used to be wet. It's not wet anymore. This is for the city of New Orleans."

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning

Top 10 plays from the Super Bowl eliminators

Quarterback Drew Brees added: "It's a moment I've been waiting for for a long time and obviously we're not done yet."

In a see-saw National Football Conference Championship Game, the Saints looked down and out as Minnesota drove for what looked set to be a game-winning field goal in the dying seconds.

But veteran quarterback Brett Favre fired an interception to reignite the game and take it into an extra period.

And young kicker Garrett Hartley slotted home from 40-yards out for the home side five minutes later.

Favre was battered by the Saints and committed three of the five turnovers given up by his side. Adrian Peterson - who scored three touchdowns - and Percy Harvin both also fumbled the ball at key times.

Earlier on Sunday, the Colts won by a healthy margin for the American Football Conference title.

But they relied on Manning to help them overcome an early deficit after rookie Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez threw for two scores.

606: DEBATE

Inexperienced receivers Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon provided support, with Collie snaring seven catches for 123 yards, including a momentum-shifting touchdown just before half-time.

Garcon, whose parents were born in Haiti and still has family on the earthquake-hit island, caught 11 passes for 151 yards - a record in the AFC title game.

Colts linebacker Gary Brackett said: "We've been here before, we had seven comeback wins this year.

"I think the guys were a little rattled at first, I think we took their best shot, but we came back."

Peyton Manning

Manning passes Colts into Super Bowl



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see also
Super Bowl semi-finals as they happened
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Super Bowl semi-finals photos
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NFL shelves second UK game plan
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NFL fixtures
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NFL results
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NFL standings
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American football on the BBC
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