A week later, and it is only now starting to truly sink in to me that our beloved Saints are in the Superbowl. At the NFC championship game it was so exhausting and dreamlike, I wasn't able to fully process it. Driving home from the game on Monday morning, I first heard Henderson's play call of the winning kick. That's when the emotion of it all really hit me and tears filled my eyes.
During this week, the play that has stuck with me the most was that kick. Just think about it a minute. Think about all of the strange events that led to that moment this season. 23 year old Garrett Hartley. Most coaches would have immediately cut the basically unproven kicker for his substance policy suspension. We carried two kickers on the roster for weeks before Payton finally decided to cut Carney and go with Hartley. Garrett then proceeded to blow an easy game winner against Tampa, ultimately costing us the game. Fast-forward to overtime Vikes-Saints. 42 yards out and without attempting a FG all game, Hartley trots out on the field to make the biggest kick of his career. Add to that the pressure of sudden death, the chance to go to the superbowl, the hopes of his team, the hopes of his 73,000+ home crowd, the hopes of his city, the snakebit history of his franchise, atonement for 43 years of futility and generations of disappointed fans. Could any other kicker have made this kick under the circumstances? I think Hartley was the only person in the building who didn't realize he wasn't supposed to make that kick. If he had reflected upon, or understood the gravity of his predicament, he would have whiffed the ball completely. Waiting and praying for the kick to be true, I braced myself for disappointment. Not only was it good, it was great! It was perfectly down the middle and would have been good from 60 yards. After a paranoid pause to scan the field for any penalty flags I let loose with Saints fans around the world. What a moment. As I type, I'm just as amazed now as I was when it happened.