Indianapolis Colts

New World Order: Saints Win Super Bowl XLIV

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The Saints’ surprising 31-17 win on Sunday night in Miami was a triumph for not only Drew Brees, Sean Payton, and the team but also for the city of New Orleans.

Indy’s demise came not just because the Saints wanted to win for the city of New Orleans but because they were simply the better team.

When a team gets outscored 25-7 in the second half after leading 10-0, there are no words to use other than Indy got bested by the better team.


1. Sean Payton

Besides his timely challenge of the Lance Moore two-point conversion in the fourth quarter, Sean Payton made a series call that clearly distinguished him from his coaching counterpart, Indy’s Jim Caldwell:

  • The 4th and goal call from the 1 during the 2nd quarter- While the Saints failed on two straight short yardage runs, with debatable playcalling, going for it put them in a great spot. If they got the touchdown, it’s a tie game at 10. The worst case scenario is going into halftime down 17-10 if the Colts drive down for a score before halftime.
  • Conversely, if you miss as the Saints did, the Colts were pinned deep in their own territory at the 1 with 1:55 left. The Colts bailed Indy opted to go conservative by running three straight times and not getting first down yardage.Out of that sequence, the Colts gave New Orleans the football back, which ultimately turned into a field goal. Instead of being down potentially 17-6 or 13-6, they went into the half down 10-6. That series helped drain the rhythm from Indy.

  • The Onside Kick – All around a huge gamble by Payton that paid off handsomely. Mike Lombardi of the National Football Post talked about the Saints deferring the coin toss if they won it. New Orleans in fact took the football and with some shred of momentum entering the second half opted for an onside kick, which the Saints recovered.Ultimately, the onside kick recovery was as good as a turnover for Indy.

Payton’s two gambles swung the game because the Saints had three possessions to Indy’s one, which was in terrible field position. Those three New Orleans possessions netted 10 points to Indy’s 0. Thus, it flipped the game once Pierre Thomas dove in from 16 yards out on a screen pass.

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2. Drew Brees

Brees played the role of marksmen once New Orleans fell behind. Even though he was not able to net the big home run strike downfield, he solved Indy’s Cover 2 defense by abusing the middle of the field. He outplayed Peyton Manning and did not panic despite being down 10-0.

It’s time to start paying attention to this guy. He threw for 5,000 yards last season and trailed in all three postseason games and managed to stage a comeback each time. Now a Super Bowl winner, Brees put together one heck of a postseason run:

Opponent Comp/Att Yards TD-INT
Vs. Arizona 23-32 247 3-0
Vs. Minnesota 17-31 197 3-0
Vs. Indianapolis 32-39 288 2-0

Most of the discussion about Drew Brees dealt with “Drew Brees, the great humanitarian”. Not much attention was paid to “Drew Brees, the quarterback”.  Well, looks like there are two definite talking points with Drew Brees now.

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3. Defense, Defense, Defense

As detailed earlier in the week, the Saints defense was a bit unconventional in terms of winning the Super Bowl. However, they excelled in forcing mistakes at critical points of the game. Three weeks ago, it was Kurt Warner. Two weeks ago, it was Brett Favre. Now, on Sunday night it was Peyton Manning.

In fact, the Saints defeated five Super Bowl winning quarterbacks during the ’09 season (Mannings, Brady, Warner, Favre). You can’t say they didn’t play anyone.

Gregg Williams’ defense did not offer up any “Remember Me” hits on Manning. Yet, they offered up the ultimate “Remember Me” play on the league’s MVP.

Somehow I’m guessing Tracy Porter is going to be eating and drinking for free on Bourbon Street and throughout New Orleans for a long time.


1. Game Mismanagement

Two major flaws in philosophy opened the door wide open for the New Orleans Saints.

  • The first came late in the first half following what should have been an awe-inspiring goal to go stand. The Colts had 1:55 left backed up at their own 1 with the ball. They opted for three straight running plays that netted nine yards. Their inability to convert, gave New Orleans another possession in the half and a field goal going into the locker room.
  • The next came with Indy leading 17-16 in the fourth quarter. Jim Caldwell decided to let 43-year-old Matt Stover kick a 51 yard field goal. Stover, the oldest player to ever participate in a Super Bowl missed wide left. With the ball at their own 41, the Saints got the ball and punched it in to take the lead. It was a lead they did not give back. On a 4th and 11, take a delay of game penalty and try to pin them deep with a punt.

2. Peyton Manning

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If you’re the greatest quarterback of all-time, you don’t throw a pick six to lose a Super Bowl. If you’re the greatest quarterback of all-time, your team does not get outscored 25-7 in the second half. Sorry folks, it’s time to put that argument away for a long time.

Spanning two Super Bowls, Manning has thrown two touchdown passes and two interceptions. For a guy with such lofty acclaim heading in, those are not numbers evoking G.O.A.T. ststus.

Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe wrote this weekend that Manning was better than Tom Brady. Manning’s interception to Porter is proof positive why that argument will never go away.

3. Soft Defense

The best way to attack a quick, small defense is to go right at it. The Saints did not have a monster day on the ground or with big passing plays but they exposed numerous holes in the Indianapolis defense. While the Saints did not grab the big play, they picked and picked away at the Colts defense.

In turn, the defensive effort impacted the timing of Indy’s offense. The Colts offense ran just six plays in the second quarter. Not being able to get New Orleans off the field, cost the Colts in the second quarter and it ultimately set the table for the game’s outcome.

Summary: The Saints were the better team. There is no controversy involving officials, personal fouls, or phantom pass interference calls. New Orleans is at the top of the NFL heap because they deserve to be.

As for the Colts, this one is going to sting for a long time. They had the league’s best quarterback, Super Bowl experience and a 10-0 lead on their side and watched all of those advantages disappear in the span of a quarter.

In the days to come, there will be more on Manning’s legacy but while some believe it does not take a hit, I’ll opt otherwise. However, this is the to celebrate and admire the fine work of the New Orleans Saints.

Nearly five years removed from one of the greatest disasters in U.S. history, the Saints’ mission to bring pride back to the city of New Orleans is complete. They are your Super Bowl champions.

Surely, these fans are quite happy…

1 reply »

  1. The game change to the saints favor in the second quarter. The field goal at the end of the half was the key. The Sainst outscored the colts 31-7 from the second quarter on. The onside kick was the killer. i said the game was over and the Saints would win. They did.

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