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Tailgaters were setting up around the Superdome at dawn, and one pregame cookout even doubled as a wedding. Some government offices, business and schools shut down.

NFL-sponsored pregame festivities included a concert in the French Quarter featuring Dave Matthews and Taylor Swift, along with a Mardi Gras-style parade through downtown, for which police estimated the crowd at about 200,000.

Shortly before kickoff, singer and New Orleans native Harry Connick Jr. entered the Superdome on a parade float with a giant replica of the silver Vince Lombardi Trophy. Also on the float was Saints owner Tom Benson, holding the real trophy.

As Connick finished the first verse of, “When the Saints Go Marching In,” a black championship banner was unfurled from the roof of the dome and Saints players streamed out of the tunnel to sustained and boisterous applause.

Shortly before kickoff, Brees stood on the 30-yard line, holding a fist up high before pumping his arm down in an orchestrated move to send the crowd of 70,051 into a chants of: “Who dat say dey gonna’ beat dem Saints!”

Soon after, the Saints received the opening kickoff and scored on only five plays, with Brees hitting three of his first four passes for 69 yards, including a 29-yard scoring strike to Devery Henderson on a rollout.

But if Saints fans thought the Saints' offense, which led the NFL in 2009, was as sharp as ever, they were in for some disappointment.

Minnesota made it 7-3 on Ryan Longwell’s 41-yard field goal in the second quarter and the Vikings defense stifled Brees and the Saints in the second quarter, allowing only 7 yards. New Orleans’ only scoring threat came after Vilma’s interception at the Vikings 34, but Hartley missed 46-yard field goal.

Then Favre marched Minnesota 64 yards on five plays to give the Vikings their only lead.

The Saints quickly regained their stride on their first drive of the second half, going 74 yards in 11 plays, capped by Thomas’ 1-yard plunge up the middle. It turned out that was all the scoring they would need.