A Mighty Saintly Win

Drew Brees was Super Bowl XLIV MVP.

Indianapolis Colts 10-0 to grabbing a 13-10 lead early in the third quarter or the people of New Orleans who are slowly rebuilding that city.

"I just wish we could split (the Lombardi Trophy) up in a lot of little pieces."

He just might have to if he actually carries that trophy on his foundation's float during a Mardi Gras parade.

Now we can argue what turned this game around, and of course Gregg Williams having the gall to blitz Manning, who passed for 333 yards by the way, on that third-and-five while only up 24-17, had a lot to do with Porter's pick six.

"We brought all the linebackers and anybody else who could get there if their guy was blocking," he would say of the pressure that was in Manning's face while tying to throw that quick slant to Reggie Wayne.

Then there was Brees, the game's MVP, completing an incredible 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns. And remember, that's the guy San Diego passed on and the Miami Dolphins were too afraid to invest in, opening the door for Brees to eventually become a Saint - in more ways than you know.

But to me, the whole tenor of this game turned while The Who was blasting away "We Won't Get Fooled Again" during the lengthy Super Bowl halftime. The Saints had been outplayed the first half, yet only trailed 10-6 thanks to two 40-plus-yard field goals by Garrett Hartley, who eventually kicked another to become the first to make three 40-plus-yard field goals in Super Bowl history.

Worse, they were going to have to kick off. And the way the Colts offense had been moving, trailing 17-6 within minutes certainly was not out of the question. Payton knew what he had to do. He couldn't play this game scared. Not in the playoffs, and darn sure not in the Super Bowl. He had to be aggressive, had to show his team he had confidence in them, just as he did on the goal line when the Saints were stopped on fourth down at the one.

But most of all, he knew he had to do what he could do to get the ball out of Manning's hands - similar to the decision he made in that high-scoring affair against the Cowboys to keep the ball away from Tony Romo in the fourth quarter of their win at Texas Stadium. He called for a half-opening onside kick.

"We felt during the week there was more than a 60 to 70 percent chance of recovering it," Payton said walking off with the Lombardi in hand. "I told the offense to get ready.

"At halftime, I just told them, 'Hey we're going to open up the second half with this. It's going to be a great play. The time of possession was going to be important. What we were trying to do was create additional series, which we were able to do. Certainly we wanted to minimize (Manning's) snaps, which we were able to do."

So former SMU punter Thomas Morestead nailed a beauty in the ground on the kickoff, and after the ball bounced off the hands of the Colts Hank Baskett, the mad scramble began, ending with the ball in the pouch of Saints linebacker Jonathan Casillas at the New Orleans 42.

"Who would have thought we'd open the second half with an onside kick?" said Brees, who knew what was going on before they left the locker room at halftime, as did Morestead, who headed out onto the field to boom away practice kickoffs as normal.

From there, Brees made his head coach look even more like a genius, needing only six plays to get the Saints into the end zone on a 16-yard screen pass to Pierre Thomas for a 13-10 New Orleans lead.

At that point, the Who Dat Nation overwhelming Sun Life Stadium came alive. They started to believe. So did the Saints players. And even though the Colts drove right back for a touchdown to take a 17-13 lead four minutes later, the Colts knew they were in for a fight.

"We had a shot at it and just didn't get it done," said Colts first-year head coach Jim Caldwell, who did interview for the Cowboys head coaching job in 2007. "Just very disappointing, very disappointing."

And once Stover missed the 51-yard field goal, giving the Saints the ball at the 41 with 10:39 left in the game and trailing 17-16, Payton's play-calling and Brees' execution - he completed seven of seven passes on the nine-play drive - had the Saints in the end zone again. And when the two-point pass to Lance Moore was ruled incomplete, Payton kept his foot to the metal, winning the replay

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