2009-10 NFL POSTSEASON SPECIAL COVERAGE – SUPER BOWL XLIV
The resurrection of the New Orleans Saints and of Drew Brees is complete.
Brees, cast off from the Chargers after a torn labrum in 2005, led the Saints to a 31-17 win over Indianapolis in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami Gardens, Fla., Sunday night.
And now New Orleans, four seasons removed from a 3-13 record in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, has its first Super Bowl title in franchise history.
The Saints (16-3) matched the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, coming back from a first-quarter 10-0 deficit. Super Bowl MVP Brees completed 32 of 39 passes for two touchdowns, tying the Super Bowl record for completions.
Colts (16-3) quarterback Peyton Manning threw for 333 yards and a score, but tossed a crucial fourth-quarter interception that Tracy Porter returned for a 74-yard touchdown for a two-possession lead.
Momentum swung New Orleans’ way after a daring play to start the second half. Trailing 10-6, the Saints elected to onside kick, and safety Chris Reis came up with Thomas Morstead’s boot at the Saints’ 42.
Brees then found Pierre Thomas, who broke three tackles for 12 yards. Thomas took a screen pass and cut up the middle for a 16-yard score. Garrett Hartley’s extra point put New Orleans up 13-10.
Indianapolis marched right back to retake the lead. Joseph Addai ran for 11 yards and Manning found Dallas Clark for 26 and 27 yards on consecutive third downs. Clark made a reception for 11 on third-and-5 before Addai spun out of a tackle for a 4-yard touchdown. Matt Stover hit the point-after.
However, the Saints scored the final 18 points of the game to win going away. Courtney Roby returned the ensuing kickoff 34 yards, Reggie Bush caught a pass over the middle for 13 and Devery Henderson made a reception on play-action for 12 yards on the sideline.
Hartley’s 47-yard field goal cut the New Orleans deficit to 17-16 to begin the fourth quarter.
The Saints pinned the Colts back at their own 11 on the kickoff, but Manning and Reggie Wayne hooked up to convert a fourth down as Indianapolis headed into field-goal range. But Stover, the oldest player in Super Bowl history at 42, missed a 51-yard field goal wide left.
Starting at its own 41, New Orleans took the lead for good. Bush ran for 12 yards before Brees hit Jeremy Shockey for a 2-yard touchdown. The Saints went for two, and Lance Moore caught a pass at the goal line, which was initially ruled incomplete but overturned by replay, to put the Saints up 24-17.
Porter then intercepted Manning and ran it all the way back with 3 minutes to go, and on the Colts’ final possession, Wayne dropped Manning’s throw at the goal line on fourth-and-goal for a turnover on downs with 44 seconds left.
Earlier, Indianapolis scored the first points of the game after a Saints three-and-out. Clark caught a play-action throw for 18 yards and made a reception for seven on third-and-4. Manning and Austin Collie hooked up for 14 to convert third-and-7 to set up a 38-yard Stover field goal.
New Orleans punted again, sending the Colts back to their own 4. Manning and Co. responded with the longest drive in Super Bowl history to go up by double digits. Donald Brown caught a pass for 11 and Addai reeled off gains of 16, 11 and 26 yards, the last on third-and-1. Manning found Pierre Garcon for a 19-yard score on third-and-6.
But the Saints kicked two field goals to close the second half. Brees and Marques Colston hooked up for 11 yards on the sideline, Indianapolis’ Philip Wheeler was penalized for unnecessary roughness and Colston hauled in a pass for 10 over the middle. Hartley kicked a 46-yard field goal for the Saints’ first points.
Indianapolis went three-and-out, but New Orleans couldn’t score, as Thomas was stuffed on fourth-and-goal by Gary Brackett, Clint Session and Tim Jennings. But the Colts again were held to three plays and punted, setting up the Saints at their 46 with 35 seconds to go in the half.
Henderson caught a pass for 19 yards to set up Hartley’s 44-yard field goal as the half expired, cutting the Colts’ edge to 10-6.
Brees threw for 288 yards in his Super Bowl debut. Colston caught seven passes for 83 yards, Henderson made seven receptions for 63 yards and Thomas caught six passes for 55 yards and a touchdown.
Manning connected on 31 of 45 passes. Addai ran for 77 yards on 13 carries, with a touchdown. Clark caught seven passes for 86 yards, Collie made six receptions for 66 yards, Garcon hauled in five tosses for 66 yards and a score, Addai made seven catches for 58 yards and Wayne snagged five passes for 46 yards.
NOTES: Washington came back from a 10-0 deficit to beat Denver in Super Bowl XXII. … The Saints had won two playoff games in franchise history before this season; they’ve won three this year. … Morstead’s onside kick was the first before the fourth quarter in Super Bowl history. … Indianapolis’ Dwight Freeney started after tearing a right-ankle ligament during the Colts’ AFC title-game win over the New York Jets. Freeney recorded one sack but made little noise in the second half. … Hartley became the first kicker to hit three field goals from 40 or more yards away in one Super Bowl. … The Colts were seeking their second Super Bowl win in four years, after taking down Chicago in the same venue in Super Bowl XLI. … The Colts lost just their third playoff game out of their last nine. … Indianapolis ran just six offensive plays in the second quarter. … Brees completed his last 10 passes. … Tom Brady connected on 32 passes during New England’s Super Bowl XXXVIII win over Carolina. … Manning and Brees’ 63 combined completions set a Super Bowl record.
Video credit – CBS