Unfortunately for Brad Childress and his players, the score remains the same: Saints 31, Vikings 28. Super Bowl hopes dashed.
As Childress, his assistant coaches and the scouting staff descended on Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine last week, which was the coaching staff's first real event to look ahead to next season, the head coach was still struggling with what happened a little more than a month ago in New Orleans.
In fact, Childress had the exact timeline as he reflected on it.
"I'm not past it quite yet. I'm past it four weeks and four days later," he said as he sat on some steps in the Lucas Oil Stadium complex.
Childress had that devastating NFC Championship Game cued up on his computer last Friday. He had watched the coaches tape a few times already, but the more personal TV copy with tighter shots that helped bring back the emotion of the game was still waiting for its first complete viewing on his computer.
"You always glean other things when you see it on television. It's drilled down much closer and they have slower motion replays and things of that nature," he said.
But still …
"The score stayed the same."
He said it took him "a while" to mentally get over the loss, but to see him talk about it indicated he really wasn't over it.
"(It's) not like you sit up straight in bed and scream, but it's disheartening," he said. "You could probably take that all the way across the organization. Every player, every coach, every secretary, every strength person. It kind of takes a little something out of you."
Fans couldn't help but wonder what might have been if there hadn't been 12 men in the huddle, if Brett Favre hadn't thrown that final interception, if any one of several close calls had gone differently, if the players didn't fumble away their drives. Those are all game-changing elements in a three-point overtime loss.
And if they hadn't happened, it might have been the Vikings winning the franchise's first Super Bowl instead of the Saints, and it might have been Childress dashing the hopes of fans in the city in which he was sitting in while talking about it.
"I don't think you can do that. There's probably a piece that says, ‘Would we have done this? Would we have done that?' How you match up is why you play the games," Childress said. "The game is compiled of all those things that you mentioned – the turnovers. It was a great football game, but it just didn't end up our way but for whatever."
"We had a great year. It's not until you get around your peers – I wasn't at the Senior Bowl, I didn't see the coaches – and get around the general managers and coaches and the people that do what we do for a living that you feel (it). There's a group that recognizes it, whether it's Gil Brandt sitting there, whether it's Tom Coughlin, that you feel exactly a little bit more worth."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Saints loss still sticks with Childress
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