Saints march past Colts

New Orleans Saints rally to beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Su­per Bowl win.


MI­AMI — Put away those pa­per bags for­ever. Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are Su­per Bowl cham­pi­ons af­ter ral­ly­ing to up­set Pey­ton Man­ning and the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 on Sun­day night in one of pro foot­ball’s most thrilling ti­tle games.

Brees tied a Su­per Bowl record with 32 com­ple­tions, the last a two-yard slant to Jeremy Shockey for the winning points with 5:42 re­main­ing. The Pro Bowl quar­ter­back was cho­sen Su­per Bowl MVP.

“ We just be­lieved in our­selves and we knew that we had an en­tire city and maybe an en­tire coun­try be­hind us,” Brees said. “ What can I say? I tried to imag­ine what this mo­ment would be like for a long time and it’s bet­ter than ex­pected.”

A sur­prise on­side kick sparked the Saints’ sec­ond-half come­back. Their 25th-ranked de­fence made sev­eral key stops, and Tracy Porter’s 74-yard in­ter­cep­tion re­turn on a pass from Man­ning late in the fourth quar­ter clinched it.

Man­ning gave fu­tile chase, but was blocked by a New Orleans de­fender and fell awk­wardly as the cor­ner­back raced by. The four­time NFL MVP for­lornly walked to the side­line as the Big Easy cel­e­bra­tions be­gan. Who would have thought the big­gest mis­take of the game would have come from Man­ning?

An NFL em­bar­rass­ment for much of their 43 years, the Saints’ foot­ball re­nais­sance, led by Brees and coach Sean Pay­ton, cli­maxed with Shockey’s touch­down and Lance Moore’s two-point con­ver­sion catch. The con­ver­sion pass orig­i­nally was ruled in­com­plete, but Pay­ton chal­lenged the call and won.

Porter’s pick, just as dra­matic as his in­ter­cep­tion of Brett Favre’s pass to force over­time in the NFC ti­tle game, was the game’s only turnover. It’s one Man­ning will re­gret for a long time.

The Saints (16-3) won three post-sea­son games this win­ter af­ter winning only two in the pre­vi­ous 42 years. They beat Ari­zona, Min­nesota and Indianapolis (163) — all divi­sion win­ners — for their first ti­tle, scor­ing 107 points and al­low­ing only 59.

The cham­pi­onship came 4 1/2 years af­ter Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina rav­aged New Orleans, mak­ing the Saints no­mads for the 2005 sea­son. There even was some doubt they would re­turn, but the NFL re­fused to aban­don the Big Easy. The Su­per­dome was re­built and the Saints won the NFC South in ’06, their first sea­son with Brees and Pay­ton.

That was the sea­son Man­ning won his only Su­per Bowl. He had the Colts in front for much of this one, but New Orleans’ league­lead­ing of­fence, which scored 510 points this sea­son, outscored Indy 31-7 af­ter fall­ing be­hind 10-0.

Be­fore many of the 74,059 fans got set­tled fol­low­ing the Who’s half­time show, the Saints worked a lit­tle voodoo.

Gar­rett Hart­ley’s on­side kick was touched by the Colts’ Hank Bas­kett, then re­cov­ered by Chris Reis at the New Orleans 42. Looking like the NFL’s most po­tent of­fence, the Saints seized the op­por­tu­nity to take their first lead. It came on Pierre Thomas’ bril­liant 16-yard run with a screen pass, capped by a dive into the end zone.

Man­ning sim­ply shrugged, found Dal­las Clark for 45 yards on a 76-yard drive, and Joseph Ad­dai used a spin move to score from the four. But that was it for Indy. Hart­ley, the hero of the NFC ti­tle game with his 40-yard field goal in OT, made a 47-yarder later in the third pe­riod. Af­ter Matt Stover was wide left on a 51yarder early in the fi­nal quar­ter, Brees led the big­gest drive in Saints his­tory.

Man­ning looked sharp on the Colts’ first two se­ries, tak­ing them 53 yards to a 38-yard field goal by Stover, at 42 the old­est player in Su­per Bowl his­tory. Then Man­ning led a 96-yard, 11-play drive that looked al­most rou­tine, even though it tied the long­est march in a Su­per Bowl. Ad­dai rushed for 53 yards on the se­ries, and Man­ning found Pierre Gar­con be­hind backup cor­ner­back Osama Young for the 19-yard score on third down.

New Orleans couldn’t match that, but did get a 46-yard field goal by Hart­ley to make it 10-3. Brees was sacked on third down by All-Pro de­fen­sive end Dwight Freeney, who sure looked frisky de­spite lig­a­ment dam­age in his right an­kle that made his avail­abil­ity un­cer­tain for two weeks.

Then Indy’s de­fence, ranked 18th dur­ing the sea­son but staunch in the play­offs, re­ally showed some power. Af­ter the Saints marched 71 yards, in­clud­ing 40 yards on two re­cep­tions by Mar­ques Col­ston, New Orleans had third-and-goal at the one. Mike Bell slipped run­ning right be­hind All-Pro guard Jahri Evans, and Thomas was stacked up at the line by Gary Brack­ett and Clint Ses­sions on fourth down.

But the Colts went against type and ran three times, leav­ing 35 sec­onds for the league’s most pro­lific of­fence to get in po­si­tion for Hart­ley’s 44-yard field goal and a more man­age­able 10-6 half­time deficit.

Shootout? More like a slow­down. Indy had two three-and-outs and New Orleans had one.

But the points came quickly af­ter half­time.

The As­so­ci­ated Press

New Orleans Saints line­backer Scott Shanle (58) and David Thomas (85) cel­e­brate in the clos­ing sec­onds of the NFL Su­per Bowl XLIV foot­ball game against the Indianapolis Colts in Mi­ami, Sun­day. Saints won, 31-17.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.