Share This Page

NFC, AFC matchups now complete

The Saints' offense and Vikings' defense dominated in the divisional playoffs to set up a tantalizing matchup in the NFC championship game.

New Orleans' defense and Minnesota's offense didn't look too bad, either. Maybe these teams will give fans a more competitive affair than the first three games of this weekend, when the conferences' top clubs reminded everybody why they ruled all year before late-season skids.

Brett Favre is headed to New Orleans to try to return to the Super Bowl at age 40, 12 years after his last appearance. Two downtrodden fan bases will watch as the top-seeded Saints host the NFC title game for the first time, less than five years after Hurricane Katrina decimated New Orleans. Minnesota hasn't gone to the Super Bowl since 1977; New Orleans has never been.

The Vikings routed the Dallas Cowboys 34-3 on Sunday to set up the NFC championship showdown. Favre threw four touchdown passes, while the defense sacked Tony Romo six times and forced him into three turnovers.

"To win the way that we did doesn't mean anything going into next week," Favre said.

A day earlier, the Saints trounced the Arizona Cardinals 45-14. Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes and Reggie Bush scored on an 83-yard punt return and a spectacular 46-yard run.

The Jets upset the second-seeded Chargers 17-14 on Sunday to fill out the last spot in the NFL's final four. New York goes back to Indianapolis, where the top-seeded Colts showed no signs of rust in beating Baltimore 20-3 on Saturday to reach the AFC title game.

The Jets handed the Colts their first loss of the season, 29-15, on Dec. 27 in Indianapolis. Of course, the Colts had already clinched home-field advantage by then, and coach Jim Caldwell pulled Peyton Manning and other starters early in the second half before New York rallied.

"A matchup that probably nobody wanted, but too bad," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "Here we come!"

Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez threw a go-ahead, 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dustin Keller three plays into the fourth quarter Sunday, then Shonn Greene gave the Jets breathing room with a 53-yard scoring run on their next possession.

The upstart Jets (11-7), who have won seven of their last eight, advanced to the AFC championship game for the first time since 1999.

The Chargers (13-4) not only saw their 11-game winning streak end, but endured yet another playoff meltdown after earning the AFC's No. 2 seed.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.