These two words will be repeated a lot during the next couple of weeks, for good reason.
Tonight the New Orleans Saints won the NFC Championship, which means they've won 50% of the games they've played at this level. Not a bad record. To be cliche about it, with this win they've punched their ticket to Super Bowl XLIV in Miami.
It was an ugly game on Sunday night in the Superdome, and I'm sure more than a few follicles of hair across the Who Dat Nation were either torn out or faded to grey as the seconds counted down in the fourth quarter. Had the offense played to the level fans had come to expect, it would have been a blow out, like last week's game, but that wasn't quite the story. Thankfully the defense came through, proving the axiom oft repeated by coaches, "Offense wins games, Defense wins championships."
Then Overtime began and an entire city and state held its collective breath, only releasing it, during the booth reviews, in prayers that the drive would continue. When the final review put them within field goal range, one kick brought to life the dreams of over 40 years of black and gold fans, and their cries of joy lifted the roof off the 'Dome.
I didn't see it. For the whole season I've either been working or otherwise occupied when the Saints were playing. The one game I got to see kickoff became their first loss of the season, and Drew Brees' worst performance. I decided to ensure that I wouldn't see today's kickoff by attending the Life Teen mass at St. Anne's. We weren't the only Who Dat's in the congregation, which actually surprised me a little; I would have thought all the others would be watching the game.
After dinner I was torn about watching. I couldn't resist, and thought I'd have to leave the house when Reggie Bush muffed a punt, and the Vikings recovered it near the end zone. I kept watching, to see them score to punish myself, and thought my fortunes had reversed when they forced a turnover. From there I couldn't look away until the final seconds of regulation, changing the channel to ice skating and hoping for a miracle I'd only see in replays. It came in the form of a Brett Favre interception, relegating me to pacing from the front door to the kitchen and back again, wondering what was happening, and hoping it was all working out.
When it was all over I got to share in the joy with friends and family, including phone calls to my dad in Cameron and my 92-year-old grandfather in Abbeville. It's such a great feeling to know that he's finally going to see them play in the big game.