The New Orleans Saints claimed their first Super Bowl victory, with a dramatic and surprising 31-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
REUTERS - The New Orleans Saints completed their long-awaited transformation from chumps to champions by defeating the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in the Super Bowl on Sunday to claim their first NFL title.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees completed 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns as he out-duelled the Colts' Peyton Manning to help the Saints fight back from a 10-point first-quarter deficit.
A Mardi Gras-style celebration broke out in Dolphin Stadium when Tracy Porter picked off a Manning pass with just over three minutes left and raced 74 yards for a score to give the Saints a 31-17 lead.
"We just believed in ourselves," said Brees. "We knew we had an entire city, maybe an entire country behind us. We're feeling it was all meant to be. It was destiny. Mardi Gras may never end."
The Saints have been a ray of hope for beleaguered New Orleans since 2005 when Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast, leaving death and destruction in its wake.
New Orleans had looked shellshocked to be in their first Super Bowl as Indianapolis took a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Garrett Hartley, however, kicked two of his three field goals in the second quarter and although they trailed 10-6 at the half, the Saints were back in business.
A 16-yard scoring pass from Brees to Pierre Thomas gave the Saints a 13-10 lead in the third quarter and the confidence they could actually win the game.
Manning, who was hoping to guide the Colts to their second Super Bowl crown in the last four seasons, finished with 31 completions in 45 attempts for 333 yards, one touchdown and one very costly interception.
The Colts' last gasp expired with 44 seconds of the game left when Manning's pass slipped through the hands of Reggie Wayne in the end zone, giving the Saints their first title in their mostly moribund 43-year history.
New Orleans had entered the final quarter trailing 17-16 but Brees hit Jeremy Shockey on a two-yard scoring pass to give the Saints a 22-16 lead with under six minutes remaining.
The quarterback, named the game's MVP, found Lance Moore on a two-point conversion that was ruled incomplete. But the Saints successfully challenged the call to take a 24-17 lead.
Porter, who had a key pickoff against Minnesota in the NFC championship, sealed the Super Bowl victory with his interception, pointing to the end zone during the last 20 yards.
"It was ... a great jump, and a great play," said Porter. "This means so much. Words can't describe how much this means for New Orleans. I am a Louisiana native and this is real big.
New Orleans scored the first time they touched the ball as a new franchise back in 1967. That shining moment was merely a blip, however, as the team not only lost the game, but waited two decades before their first winning season.
"I'm proud of this team, these coaches and everybody back in New Orleans," Saints coach Sean Payton told the delirious crowd after the game.
Date created : 2010-02-08