The Vikings had 218 more yards. The Vikings had 97 more yards on the ground. The Vikings had 121 more yards through the air. Minnesota had 16 more first downs and the ball for 8:53 longer.
It didn't matter.
The Saints forced five turnovers and prevailed 31-28 in overtime on Garrett Hartley's game-winning field goal to advance to its first Super Bowl. The Saints recovered three fumbles - two of them in the red zone - and picked off Brett Favre twice. The last interception came as the Vikings were driving to set up a potential game-winning field goal attempt in regulation.
Out of the many things that the Eagles can take out of watching these two teams play is that their ability to generate turnovers on defense will be a tremendous asset moving forward. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott's crew amassed 38 turnovers which was good for third in the league behind just the Packers (40) and the aforementioned Saints (39). The Eagles had 25 interceptions which ranked fourth in the league and recovered 13 fumbles which was tied for the sixth-highest total in the NFL.
Just two years ago, the Eagles were last in the NFL in takeaways with 19. They had 11 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries that year. In addition, the Eagles had no defensive touchdowns. They've have nine in the last two seasons including four this past year.
Nine different players had an interception for the Eagles this season. The Eagles had an interception on one out of every 23.2 pass attempts. Asante Samuel (9) and Sheldon Brown (5) paced the interception effort for the Eagles. With 14 picks combined, no other cornerback tandem in the league had as many as Samuel and Brown this season.
On the flip side, for all of the takeaways this season, the Eagles allowed more passing touchdowns in 2009 (27) than any other year during the Andy Reid era. In fact, the Eagles only allowed more than 20 twice before this year with the last time being in 2005. In 2008, the Eagles gave up just 19 passing scores. Back in 2000, the Eagles only had allowed 11.
The off-season work is well underway and certainly McDermott will be looking in his second year as coordinator for ways to keep the turnover rate high while erasing the touchdowns allowed.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 12:00 a.m., January 25