Saints - Pats Losses Set Stage For History

Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy are the first African-American coaches to lead their team to the Super Bowl. Come February 4th, one will become the first to win an NFL title as a coach.

"When he took the job in Chicago, I said, 'I'm happy you're going to the NFC and, maybe we can, you know, play against each other,' Dungy said.

Smith served as an assistant on Dungy's staff in Tampa Bay, as did Kansas City head coach Herm Edwards. But even when the trio dined together before the Chiefs took on the Colts three weeks ago during the Bears' bye week, Dungy didn't predict coaching against his long-time friend in the Super Bowl.

"When we had dinner three weeks ago, we talked about that, hoping that maybe the two of us will face off against each other," Dungy said. "So you hope it happens, but realistically, it's hard to dream of that. It's going to be great going against them. They're a tremendous team. You could see that the way they played (against New Orleans)."

--One coach who fell just short of adding a little bit of history himself on Sunday was the Saints' Sean Payton, who was seeking to become just the fourth first-year coach to lead his team to the title game.

The Saints won just their third division title after finishing 3-13 in 2005, so Payton said New Orleans fans have plenty to be excited about for the future.

"It's tough when you play in the postseason, and have the finality of a loss, especially with the season we had," said Payton. "It's probably the best team I've been around in terms of togetherness and guys caring about team first.

"It makes it sting that much more," he said. "But we'll get back in the position we were in tonight. The character that we have in that (locker) room is very important and special. Again, that makes it that much more difficult to lose -- especially in an NFC Championship Game."

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