Perhaps it isn’t good for a reporter/columnist to be speechless, but for a while there…I truly was.
The New Orleans Saints are the World Champions. The New Orleans Saints are the best team in all of the NFL. The New Orleans Saints have won the Super Bowl. Even though I’ve been watching the black and gold for 90% of my thirty years on this earth; it’s hard to hear any of those statements and know that they are actually true. But tonight on February 7, 2010 from the city of Miami…they’re all the God’s honest truth.
On Sunday night, the Saints rolled into Sun Life Stadium for Super Bowl XLIV making the franchise’s first appearance in the big game ever. The game was being billed as two of the best offenses in the league battling it out for ultimate supremacy with just a slight touch of defense thrown in. Little did anyone realize that the Saints would bring a balanced attack on both sides of the ball. We all hoped that our offense was going to come into the game and give us a lead that we could work with. Leave it something the Saints haven’t had in a very long time to seal the deal. And that’s a defense.
Out of the gate, the Indianapolis Colts looked as if they were going to totally dominate the game and bring the hopes and dreams of the Saints crashing back down to reality. The first quarter was nothing but the Colts, all the Colts, and nothing but the Colts. Here came the most potent offense in the NFL winning the coin toss and then having to punt the ball away on a three and out. Peyton Manning then calmly took his team downfield and got an easy-looking three points.
Next up was the Saints’ turn again and the offense fared a bit better this time as they were able to get in six plays before punting the ball away once more. Peyton Manning then proceeded to drive the Colts on a record-tying 94-yard drive for a touchdown. It all seemed too easy for the blue and white making myself and the rest of my family watching very frightened.
The Saints got another chance in the first quarter and luckily only had to run one play before the hellish quarter was over. Drew Brees and company finally began to click as the second quarter began and made it far enough downfield so that two-week ago hero Garrett Hartley could boot a beautifully kicked 46-yard field goal straight through the uprights. My brother in law exclaimed, “At least it’s not a shut out.” Sadly, I was thinking the same thing because here we were on the grandest stage of them all and an embarrassment was the last thing I wanted.
Manning was set now to get the ball and try to add to the Colts’ 10-3 lead. Three plays later the Colts were punting without getting a first down. Time for the black and gold offense to take the field yet again. A very long and well-executed drive by the Saints got them down inside the five yard line, but they just couldn’t pound it in. Instead of going for the easy three, the offensive mastermind Sean Payton ran it on fourth down with Pierre Thomas and watched him get stuffed. But the Colts continued to not be able to do anything as another three and out forced them to punt the ball away which led to a quick drive and another long field goal (44-yarder) from Hartley.
Here’s where it gets interesting. The Who finished up their halftime set and the Colts were due to receive the ball to start the second half with a 10-6 lead.
Thomas Morstead came out for the kickoff and surprised THE WORLD with an onside kick. The first ever onside kick done in a Super Bowl before the fourth quarter. It was beautifully executed, went about twelve yards, bounced off a Colts’ player, and into the arms of Saint Chris Reis. A huge scrum ensued that took about two or three minutes for the referees to get untangled. When all was said and done though, Saints’ player Jonathan Casillas emerged with the ball. The Saints then strolled down the field and scored on Thomas’ 16-yard screen pass reception from Brees.
New Orleans lead for the first time ever in the Super Bowl 13-10, but the ball was going back to Peyton Manning. Upon receiving it, Manning stayed calm, cool, and collected as he brought the Colts down the field yet again and got Joseph Addai into the end zone for a rushing score. This back and forth game saw the Colts retake the lead 17-13. It would last through the end of the quarter as the Saints would only muster one more Hartley field goal (47 yards) to make it 17-16 as the fourth quarter began.
A few back and forth possessions including a shanked field goal attempt by Colts’ Matt Stover gave the Saints the ball back and Brees once again brought the Bayou Boys into the end zone. New York Giants’ degenerate Jeremy Shockey grabbed a two-yard score which was a nice piece of sweet justice. Lance Moore snagged a two-point conversion upheld by a Payton challenge and the Saints had a touchdown lead 24-17. Frighteningly though, Manning was about to get the ball back.
With 75 yards to go for the tie, Peyton Manning began a clinic on the field and the Colts were driving. It was getting scary for a little bit there because the master of the comeback was doing what he does best near the end of the game. Then it happened. Tracy Porter watched Manning’s eyes, jumped the route on Reggie Wayne, snatched the ball out of mid-air, and ran it 74 yards for a sealing score. The Saints were up 31-17 with under four minutes to go and the defense would hold from there.
Believe it folks. The Saints are the Super Bowl winners and the Champions of the World. There are a few things that need to be looked at here as the chills still run up and down my body because of the sheer thoughts that the Saints are the best team in all the land.
~ Turnovers would be the turning point – CHECK: In a relatively clean and well played game, there was only one turnover and it sealed the deal as Porter grabbed Manning’s only mistake of the game and closed the door. Actually, I’d blame that interception on Reggie Wayne more then Manning because it was a well-thrown ball. You could also say that the onside-kick was a bit of a turnover because technically it should have been Colts’ ball to start the second half.
~ Keep the penalties to a minimum – CHECK: The Saints committed only three penalties for a total of nineteen yards. Hell, it was a beautiful game by both teams as the Colts only had five penalties for forty-five yards. Still, the black and gold won that battle too.
~ Give Drew Brees time to throw the ball – CHECK: All night Brees had plenty of time to throw the ball and if things did get a little tight in the pocket then he simply stepped forward a pace or two and bought another couple seconds. Dwight Freeney’s injury really affected him, but the Colts had him out there most of the game. He also had the only sack of the entire game so it’s not like he was totally ineffective. Kudos to Jermon Bushrod though for doing a damn fine job against him.
Drew Brees holds up his young son. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Brees stat line: 32/39 (29/32 after the first quarter) for 288 yards, 2 TDs, and a rating of 114.5 – Phenomenal
~ “I think they’re going to be so far ahead that people are going to say, ‘Oh, ho-hum, he played a good game, they won by two scores, the Colts won their second championship.’ He’s going to have those rings Sunday night. I don’t think it’s going to be close. Minnesota is playing in New Orleans, they turn the ball over five times, have two or three stupid penalties and still lose in overtime. I don’t see how it’s going to be close. The Colts aren’t going to turn it over seven times.” – WRONG: Those are the words of former Colts’ coach Tony Dungy to the New York Times a couple of days ago. You usually keep your mouth close Mr. Dungy and aren’t so fan-ish when it comes to predicting games or speaking of your former team. I would tell you to shut your mouth, but I do believe the Saints just did that for you.
Plenty more to go through this week folks as I’m going to dissect the biggest victory in the history of the New Orleans Saints. Oh my God, I really just can’t believe it still. Jim Henderson said it best when he announced that, “Pigs had flown. Hell has frozen over.” Yes they have Jim and the devil is freezing right now as the fluttering wings of those pigs picks up speed.
WHO DAT! WHO DAT! WHO DAT SAY DEY GON’ BEAT DEM’ SAINTS…nobody.
Tags: Drew Brees, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Peyton Manning, Reggie Bush