Toronto, Canada – By Simon Evans
NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - The liquor flowed on Bourbon Street and the confetti flew inside the Superdome but for the Super Bowl-bound New Orleans Saints and their quarterback Drew Brees, Sunday's NFC Championship win was all about pride.
A 31-28 overtime victory against the Minnesota Vikings, thanks to a field goal from kicker Garrett Hartley, brought the Saints their first Super Bowl appearance -- they will face the Indianapolis Colts in Miami on February 7.
Coming less than five years after the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina and in a stadium which, in those days of misery, housed the homeless and the desperate, there was no shortage of emotion.
"It's unbelievable. I think you can draw so many parallels between our team and our city, but in reality we kind of leaned on each other in order to survive and in order to get to where we are now," Brees told reporters.
"The city is on its way to recovery and in a lot of ways it's back better than ever. For us as a team, we use the strength and resilience of our fans.
"We go out and play every Sunday and go out with the confidence to do it. We're going to achieve everything we've set out to achieve.
"It's been one step at a time. It hasn't always been easy. We've had to fight through plenty of adversity just like this city has.
"We know what it's meant thus far to this community, not only the regular season, but also being able to host two playoffs games, what it did for this economy and what it did for the spirit of this city and these people."
While Brees talked to reporters, the streets of the city, known as a Mardi Gras party town, were already jumping to the chant of "Who Dat?" -- an old jazz refrain that has been taken up as an unofficial anthem by Saints fans.
"It's probably going to be nuts around here for a little bit, but that's expected and we're excited about that. It was about as loud as I've ever heard in the dome today. It seems like it only gets louder.
"Certainly when you look at the weight of this game and what it meant to go out and get a victory, we couldn't have done it without our fans.
"Certainly it was an all around team effort. It feels so good to know what we've given our fans a championship, an NFC Championship. We've got another championship we're now going after, for them," he said.
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Patrick Johnston)