NEW ORLEANS -- Sean Payton's patience with second-year kicker Garrett Hartley was rewarded with the New Orleans Saints' first Super Bowl berth.
Suspended for the first four games of the season for using a banned stimulant, Hartley won back his job, then wound up staring down the biggest 40-yard field goal try in Saints history Sunday night.
Hartley overcame his nerves -- not to mention bad memories of a missed 37-yarder that could have spared the Saints an embarrassing loss to Tampa Bay -- and split the uprights, lifting the Saints to a 31-28 win over Minnesota in the NFC championship game.
While he was mobbed by teammates, the Louisiana Superdome erupted in earsplitting cheers, then watery-eyed fans hugged one another.
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