NEW ORLEANS » For football fans in the Big Easy, "Lombardi Gras" just keeps on rolling.
Drew Brees and the Saints extended New Orleans’ post-Super Bowl euphoria for at least another week and denied Brett Favre a victory in the Louisiana Superdome one more time.
Brees completed 27 of 36 passes for 237 yards and one touchdown, and the Saints survived a hard-fought season opener for a 14-9 victory over the Minnesota Vikings last night.
It was the lowest-scoring victory since Sean Payton became head coach in 2006, but the Saints will take it, especially after their defense limited Favre to 171 yards passing and one touchdown.
"We’re not used to 14-9 victories, but we’re used to winning," said Brees, the reigning Super Bowl MVP. "So we like the W."
New Orleans might have won the game more easily if not for two missed field goals by Garrett Hartley.
Still, New Orleans was able to kneel on the ball to run out most of the last two minutes after Pierre Thomas capped a 71-yard, one-touchdown performance with a 10-yard, first-down run right after the 2-minute warning.
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 87 yards on 19 carries against New Orleans’ stingy defense.
"We did a very good job of holding against the run and still taking some of the downfield throws away," Payton said.
Favre looked out of synch or inaccurate at times. The fact that Minnesota was without receiver Sidney Rice may have had something to do with that.
"There’s three of four throws that I just missed," Favre said. "I have no excuse. I just missed."
His best sequence came on Minnesota’s only touchdown drive late in the first half, when he found Vinsanthe Shiancoe on precision completions of 33 and 20 yards, the second for the Vikings’ only TD.
That gave Minnesota a 9-7 halftime lead, which the Saints erased on their first drive of the second half. Thomas capped a 74-yard drive with a 1-yard run.
"We were right where we wanted to be at halftime, then it was three-and-out, three-and-out," Vikings coach Brad Childress said.
The Saints took the opening kickoff and scored five plays later when Brees hit Devery Henderson with 29-yard pass.
Minnesota made it 7-3 on Ryan Longwell’s 41-yard field goal in the second quarter.