|Saints do the "impossible" with Super Bowl 44 win
Hell froze over and the brash and bold Saints became the the world's best football team on Sunday
night with a 31-17 Super Bowl 44 victory over the favored Indianapolis Colts and one of New Orleans
favorite sons, Peyton Manning, in South Florida's Sun Life Stadium.
Concluding a season that has lifted the spirit of the New Orleans area on the rebound, the Saints
ignored little attention from the national media, and because of a calculated quarterback Super Bowl
44 MVP Drew Brees, a risk-taking coach and a team's faith that didn't waiver.
Cornerback Tracy Porter returned a Manning interception 74 yards for a clinching touchdown. Mardi
Gras began in the French Quarter and the predominately New Orleans crowd of 74,059 in Sun Lite
Stadium celebrated long and hard amidst a burst of black and gold confetti.
"I think it boiled to one play," said Colts coach Jim Caldwell.
"Porter made a great play," said Manning. "It's really disappointing. I'm sorry for our fans that we
weren't able to get it done."
"We thought we were the better team going in," said Saints coach Sean Payton.
Behind the brilliance of Brees, who completed 29 of 32 passes in the final three quarters (one was a
spike and one was a drop), the Saints were afforded some select, calculated opportunities/span>to
take some major risks.
The Saints opened the second half with an onside kick that restored hope and produced a level of
momentum that had been previously/span>one-sided. Down by four points, rookie linebacker
Jonathan Casillas claimed the ball on a quick kick by Thomas Morstead.
That recovery was one of the turning points in the game. "We practiced that the week before the game,"
said Payton. "At halftime I said let's do it."
"Drew Brees was magnificent." said Payton. "He prepared outstanding. He handled a lot of the offense
at the line of scrimmage. When you look at his locations tonight, I thought he was fantastic."
This was a game that was Manning's to win. But after throwing 14 passes in the first qaurter. he didn't
have the opportunity to continue carving the Saints' secondary. As a result, the Saints' ability tocontrol
the clock changed the game's complexion. No longer were the Colts unstoppable.
"Time of possesion was going to be important," said Payton. "We were trying to create an additional
series as the clock was winding down. We wanted to minimize Manning's snaps. and we were able to
do that to some degree.
By the fourth quarter, this wasn't Manning's game. It belonged to Brees. It belonged to a quarterback
who put his team on his shoulders and carried them to a Super Bowl victory.
"This is part of the rebuilding process," said Reggie Bush. "I believe that God knew the score of the
game before it ended. The city needed this."
The Saints played in the Super Bowl for the first time in their 43-yer history. They were playing for "Who
Dat Nation," a community that had been torn asunder by a hurricane in 2005 and brought back
together to some extent by the healing spirit engendered by theri efforts.
Manning was 31 of 45 for 333 yards and a touchdown with the one interception, but the onside kick did
The Saints turned a corner thus season. There was nothingbackdoor about their performance, they
marched right through the front door before a world-wide audience.
With this win, the Saints will continue to inspire the city and boost it's spirit. No doubt, this party isn't
going to end until after Mardi Gras.
There is a parade to honor the Super Bowl champs on Tuesday night.
These aren't your daddy's Saints anymore.
|Key plays in Super Bowl 44:
Matt Stover, at 42 the oldest player in NFL, gave Colts a 3-0 lead on a 38-yard field goal.
Peyton Manning hit Pierre Garcon on a 19-yard TD pass to give the Colts a 10-0 lead.
The Saints got on the board with a 45-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley to make it 10-3.
Hartley kicked a 44yard field goal on the final play of he first half to make the halftime score 10-6.
Drew Brees threw a 16-yard pass to Pierre Thomas to give the Saints a 13-10 lead/\.
Joseph Addai (LSU) ran in a 4-yard TD as the Colts took the lead back 17-13
A 47-yard field goal by Hartley narrowed it to 17-16.
Brees hit Jeremy Shockey on a 2-yard TD pass to make it 24-17 after a 2-point pass to Lance Moore.
Tracy Porter intercepted a Manning pass and returned it 76 yards for a TD and a 31-17 lead.
|A Cool Brees through Indianapolis
After the game, Brees held his one-year-old son, Baylen, in his arms before hoisting the Vince
Brees and the Saints moved up to elite status in the NFL. He completed 32 of 39 passes for 288yards
with two touchdowns. He tied a Super Bowl record set by Tom Brady with 32 completions
Eight Saints caught passes, five catching at least three. Marques Colston had a team-high seven
catches, including a first-quarter drop that cost the Saints at least a field goal in the first quarter. Thar
drop cost Brees a Super Bowl record.
Hartley became the first kicker in Super Bowl history with three field goals of 40 yards or longer with
kicks of 47, 46 and 44 yards.
"It's unbelievable, incredible," said Brees in his postgame discussion.
|How the national media saw the game:
Peter King, SI.com: "It's right, it's fair, it's just good, it's shocking. You were not dreaming (or
nightmaring, if you live in Indiana). The Saints have won the Super Bowl.
"As the team bus -- the one with mostly family and friends of the team -- sped from the stadium to the
Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Miami for the most raucous of postgame parties,this merry band of
Saints partisans sang and chanted and Who-Dated to their heart's content. On this bus was an
electric mix, just like New Orleans itself. A couple of seats from the front was the political couple who
live in New Orleans, James Carville and Mary Matalin. Behind them sat the 97-year-old archbishop of
New Orleans, Philip Hannan, a good friend of owner Tom Benson. In the back was Reggie Bush and
his famous-for-being-famous girlfriend, Kim Kardashian.
Don Banks, SI.com: "Of course it was a comeback.It had to be, didn't it? How else could the New
Orleans Saints and Drew Brees have ended this story and this season, but to rise up and triumph only
after first weathering a storm of sorts?
"New Orleans, the city that survived a death blow from Katrina, and Brees, the quarterback whose
career was jeopardized by a horribly timed shoulder injury just as he sought to make a real name for
himself in the NFL, withstood one last dose of adversity Sunday night at Sun Life Stadium. But what's a
10-0 first-quarter deficit in the Super Bowl when you've already been where Brees and New Orleans
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post:
"Who dat say gonna beat dem Saints? "Not the Colts
"The Saints, erasing 43 years littered with far more futility and calamity than success, basked in the
most glorious moment in franchise history last night with their 31-17 Super Bowl XLIV victory over the
favored Colts at Sun Life Stadium.
"Cut up the 'When The Saints Go Marching In." Mardi Gras jsut began two weeks early on Bourbon
Street -- and the party might not stop until next year. There isn't enough Hurricane mix at Pat O'Brien's
to handle the crush.
"Mark this day as the the greatest day in New Orleans sports history and there's not even a distant
second on the list."