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For football fans in the Big Easy, 'LombardiGras' just keeps on rolling.

Drew Brees and the Saints extended New Orleans' post-Super Bowleuphoria for at least another week and denied Brett Favre a victoryin 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 14-9victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night.

It wasn't the most spectacular way to open a title defense,considering it was a rematch of the riveting 2009 NFC title gamelast January, which the Saints won in overtime to advance to theirfirst Super Bowl.

'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.'

It was the lowest-scoring victory of the Sean Payton era, whichbegan in 2006, but the Saints will take it, especially after theirdefense limited Favre to 171 yards passing and one touchdown.

'I know people are going to say it wasn't the fireworks theyexpected it to be,' Favre said.

Although his offense was far less potent than usual, Payton saidhe 'was proud of the way we came through and made enough plays tostart the season 1-0.'

Unlike the NFC championship game, the Vikings didn't lose afumble and turned the ball over only once on Jonathan Vilma'sinterception of Favre, who made an ill-advised throw as RomanHarper hit him on a safety blitz.

Also unlike their previous meeting, the Saints had most of thestatistical advantages, outgaining Minnesota 308 yards to 253 andcontrolling the ball for 33:43, compared to 26:17 for Minnesota.

'We knew we would have to play better in a lot of areas than wedid last year (against the Vikings) and I felt like we did,' Breessaid. 'We just showed that we can win in a lot of differentways.'

New Orleans might have won the game more easily if not for twomissed field goals by Garrett Hartley, who kicked the dramaticwinning field goal last year.

Still, New Orleans was able to kneel on the ball to run out mostof the last two minutes after Pierre Thomas capped a 71-yard,one-touchdown performance with 10-yard, first-down run right afterthe 2-minute warning.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 122 yardsand three TDs in the last meeting, rushed for 87 yards on 19carries against New Orleans' stingy defense.

'We did a very good job of holding against the run and stilltaking some of the downfield throws away,' Payton said.Although the game was competitive, it hardly lived up to itshype.

Favre's comeback from ankle surgery, marking the start of his20th season, was largely unspectacular. Despite being sacked onlyonce and hit not nearly as often, or as hard, as in the NFC titlegame, he looked out of synch or inaccurate at times. The fact thatMinnesota was without star receiver Sidney Rice may have hadsomething to do with that.

'There's three of four throws that I just missed,' Favre said.'I have no excuse. I just missed.'

Favre's best sequence came on Minnesota's only touchdown drivelate in the first half, when he found Vinsanthe Shiancoe onprecision down-the-middle completions of 33 and 20 yards, thesecond for the Vikings' only TD.

That gave Minnesota a 9-7 halftime lead, which the Saints erasedon their first drive of the second half.

'We were right where we wanted to be at halftime, then it wasthree-and-out, three-and-out,' Vikings coach Brad Childress said.'There were not a lot of throws to be made downfield. They weregoing to hold us down and make us bleed slowly.'

The Saints' triumph ended a long day of festivities which forsome might have been more exciting than the game itself.

Tailgaters were setting up around the Superdome at dawn, and onepregame cookout even doubled as a wedding. Some government offices,business and schools shut down.

NFL-sponsored pregame festivities included a concert in theFrench Quarter featuring Dave Matthews and Taylor Swift, along witha Mardi Gras-style parade, for which police estimated the crowd atabout 200,000.

Shortly before kickoff, singer and New Orleans native HarryConnick Jr. entered the Superdome on a parade float with a giantreplica of the silver Vince Lombardi Trophy. Also on the float wasSaints owner Tom Benson, holding the real trophy.

As Connick finished the first verse of, 'When the Saints GoMarching In,' a black championship banner was unfurled from theroof of the dome and Saints players streamed out of the tunnel tosustained and boisterous applause.

Shortly before kickoff, Brees stood on the 30-yard line, holdinga fist up high before pumping his arm down in an orchestrated moveto send the sellout crowd of 70,051 into a chants of: 'Who dat saydey gonna' beat dem Saints!'

Soon after, the Saints received the opening kickoff and scoredon only five plays, with Brees hitting three of his first fourpasses for 69 yards, including a 29-yard scoring strike to DeveryHenderson on a rollout.

Minnesota made it 7-3 on Ryan Longwell's 41-yard field goal inthe second quarter and the Vikings defense stifled Brees and theSaints in the second quarter, allowing only 7 yards. New Orleans'only scoring threat in the quarter came after Vilma's interceptionat the Vikings 34, but Hartley missed a 46-yard field goal.

The Saints quickly regained their stride on their first drive ofthe second half, going 74 yards in 11 plays, capped by Thomas'1-yard TD plunge up the middle. That turned out that was all thescoring the Saints needed.

NOTES: The defending Super Bowl champion has played host to thelast seven Thursday night openers and won them all. ... Theprevious lowest-scoring Saints victory under Payton was his debutas a head coach in the 2006 regular season, a 19-14 win atCleveland. ... Brees, who completed 75 percent of his passeswithout an interception, had a quarterback rating of 101.3, the30th time in 64 regular season games with the Saints that is ratingwas above 100. ... Favre was 15 of 27 (56 percent) with oneinterception for a passer rating of 71.7. ... Favre needs two moreTDs passing to become the first NFL quarterback with 500. ...Shianco finished with four catches for 76 yards, all in the firsthalf. ... Thomas rushed for all but 1 of his yards in the secondhalf.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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