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VIA: sportsillustrated.cnn.com

NEW ORLEANS — In the losers’ locker room Sunday night, there was mostly silence for the first five, 10 minutes that reporters were allowed in. Silence among the players, but the noise on the outside — the delirium, really — seeped through the walls. The cries symbolized 43 years of frustration ending, and the wailing of repeated “Who Dat!” chants, which young and old screamed through the weekend and into this morning in a raucous celebration in the French Quarter, finally got to someone in the room.

“[Bleep] Who Dat!” came an angry voice from the cluster of the offensive linemen’s stalls.

The Vikings will have to live with their bitterest loss in a generation for a long, long time. Thirty-one first downs, outgaining the Saints by 218 yards, rendering Reggie Bush (seven carries, eight yards) irrelevant except for one short touchdown catch, not allowing a Saints’ wideout a 20-yard catch all day … and losing. Throwing it away. Fumbling it away. Eight fumbles or interceptions in 13 possessions.

I’ll get to the triumphs of the weekend, the Colts’ second AFC title in four years and the Saints’ first in forever, but I’ve got to touch on the Vikings first. Whoever lost the game here was going to feel it for a long time, but the fact that Minnesota may have lost on a 12-men-in the-huddle penalty, followed by a horrendous Brett Favre interception in the last pass of his season (career?) … I don’t know how the Vikings will sleep for a while.

Oh, and I’ll have an opinion about the overtime rule too. And an interesting conversation with Tim Tebow about the first day of the rest of his life. But let’s start with the beaten man at his locker in the bowels of the Superdome, and the odd end to this game.

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