NEW ORLEANS -- Let's hit some hot spots here:
What it means: The Minnesota Vikings fell to 0-1, obviously. But I think this game should relieve some concern about the cloud of drama that hovered over the team all summer. The Vikings withstood the New Orleans Saints' early emotional surge, held a 9-7 halftime lead and really made the Saints work hard to win their home opener.
Big revelation: Receiver Sidney Rice's hip surgery opened up the question: Where would quarterback Brett Favre look in key passing situations? Thursday night's game revealed that, in essence, he's most comfortable with three pass-catchers: tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, receiver Percy Harvin and running back Adrian Peterson. That trio accounted for more than half of Favre's 15 completions. For reasons that must be explained, Favre didn't seem to have much of a connection with erstwhile No. 1 receiver Bernard Berrian, who finished with one reception for 3 yards. That's not going to cut it if the Vikings are going to adequately replace Rice.
Injury of note: Left tackle Bryant McKinnie was taken off the field in the fourth quarter with what was reported to be a finger injury. That must have been one major finger injury. His departure forced the Vikings to shift right tackle Phil Loadholt to left tackle and insert Ryan Cook on the right side. Loadholt committed a key holding penalty on his first series in the new position, and Favre had happy feet thereafter.
Critical call: With 14:51 left in the game, Vikings coach Brad Childress challenged an incomplete pass to tight end Jim Kleinsasser on third-and-7. I thought replays clearly showed the ball bounced before Kleinsasser grabbed it. Perhaps Childress was attempting to give his defense some extra time to rest before coming back on the field. Regardless, the Vikings had one less timeout to work with while trying to regain possession at the end of the game.
What's next: The Vikings have nine days to prepare for their next game, the Sept. 19 home opener against the Miami Dolphins. Players probably will have the weekend off.