Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now

Saints Are Super!

Posted on February 07, 2010 by Dean Hybl
Drew Brees secured his place among the NFL elite with his MVP performance in Super Bowl XLIV.

Drew Brees secured his place among the NFL elite with his MVP performance in Super Bowl XLIV.

No, the headline above is not a typo, the New Orleans Saints are lovable losers no more. After 43 years, the New Orleans Saints have reached the NFL mountaintop with a 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.

When Peyton Manning and the Colts marched methodically down the field to score the first 10 points of the game it looked like the Saints might be in for a long day.

However, this is not your father’s New Orleans Saints and instead of folding under pressure, this New Orleans team responded with spunk, determination and guile.

Inspired by their head coach, Sean Payton, who made a number of bold decisions that got the Saints back in the game, New Orleans came storming back to seize control.

Even after failing on a fourth and goal play late in the first half, the Saints rallied to make the game 10-6 at intermission.

Then, Payton made his boldest call as they started the second half with an onside kick. Had the Colts recovered, they would have had great field position and might have been able to put the game away.

Instead, the Saints recovered and quickly marched down the field to take their first lead of the game 13-10.

Illustrating why he is among the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, Peyton Manning led the Colts right back down the field to take a 17-13 lead.

With the Colts clinging to a 17-16 lead, they had a chance to extend their advantage, but a 51-yard field goal by Matt Stover faded to the left at the end and fell no good.

Similarly, the Colts’ grip on the Super Bowl was also starting to fade.

Jeremy Shockey caught the go-ahead touchdown with little more than five minutes remaining in the game.

Jeremy Shockey caught the go-ahead touchdown with little more than five minutes remaining in the game.

Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees led the Saints down the field on a nine play drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey. A juggling two-point conversion catch by Lance Moore made the score 24-17 and with Manning ready to march down the field overtime seemed like a distinct possibility.

Facing the team his father led for more than a decade, Peyton Manning showed no sign of panic and again started moving his team down the field toward a tying score.

Things were moving as expected until the seventh play of the drive when on third down from the New Orleans 31 Manning made his only major mistake of the game as his pass intended for Reggie Wayne was intercepted by Tracy Porter and returned 74-yards for the game-sealing touchdown.

It marked the second straight game in which Porter registered a key interception against a future Hall of Famer. In the NFC Championship Game he had a key interception that ensured overtime.

This time his interception and return gave the Saints a 14-point lead with just three minutes remaining in the game.

Now needing two scores, Manning again led the Colts down the field, but they fell short on fourth down from inside the 10-yard-line to ice the first Super Bowl title for the Saints.

In all, the Saints out-scored the Colts 31-7 after falling behind 10-0, including a 25-7 advantage in the second half.

It was a fitting end to a season in which the Saints had often been in a tight game early before pulling away with big plays down the stretch.

Brees matched a Super Bowl record with 32 completions and finished with 288 yards passing and two touchdowns. Manning was no slouch with 333 yards passing and a touchdown, but his late interception proved to be costly.

The victory by New Orleans gives the team and their city their first major professional sports championship and will undoubtedly continue to lift the spirits of a city that is still in recovery mode nearly five years after Hurricane Katrina.

The Saints become the 17th NFL franchise to win a Super Bowl and the first to win their initial title since Tampa Bay in 2002.

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