Another great NFL season has come to a close as the New Orleans Saints topped the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV in South Florida on Sunday evening. The 14-point spread doesn’t tell the story because this year’s Super Bowl was intriguing and dramatic from kickoff to 00:00.
If you can put aside any rooting interests you may have developed over the past 2 weeks, you’ll see that Super Bowl XLIV was indeed all any football fan can ask for in a Super Bowl. It had great play from QBs, big plays and stops by the defenses and even a pivotal play on special teams.
And it was that pivotal play on special teams that served as the turning point in this game. After failing to score a TD late in the 1st half near the goal line, the Saints went into the locker room trailing 10-6 and seemingly stymied by the Colts defensive game plan. But Saints Head Coach Sean Payton called for an onside kick to open the 2nd half and it worked. New Orleans recovered and then Drew Brees and Co. drove the field to score a TD and take a 13-10 lead.
While Brees and Colts QB Peyton Manning put on impressive passing displays – they had 63 combined completions for 621 yards – it was a defensive play against Manning that was the deal closer in this game. Trying to drive his team down the field to tie the game with less than 5 minutes to play, Manning had his team on the New Orleans 31. He tried to connect with Reggie Wayne on a 3rd-down pass by Saints CB Tracy Porter stepped in front of the pass and returned it 74 yards for the back-breaking score as they Saints went on to win their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
Again, the game was all any football fan could ask for. It wasn’t the high-scoring, defense-disrespecting affair many thought it would be (including me). But it still featured plenty of offensive fireworks and fine QB play. The game was managed well by both teams and was drastically affected by a gutsy onside kick call to start the 2nd half. And the game kept fans entertained throughout, never rendering either team desperate or hopeless until Manning threw an incomplete pass near the goal line on 4th down with just 50 seconds to play.
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