New Orleans Saints Victory: Destiny or Guts?

Tuviere AkpogheneContributor IFebruary 8, 2010

All season long, I have argued that the Colts were better than the Saints.

I had even suggested the Vikings were also better. To everyone on the A-List team, members and readers, and to the Who Dat Nation, I obviously didn’t know what tha heck I was talking about.

I am not writing this apology because I lost a bet (which I did!); I am writing this because I have been too critical of the Saints all year long, and this is my way of apologizing.

I congratulate the Saints and the Who Dat? Nation on one of the most entertaining offensive performances I have seen in any Super Bowl in recent years.

That said, I wrote in my article—Super Bowl XLIV: Final Outcome is Very Obvious : "I guess it is obvious who I believe will win the game, the Vikings handed the Saints an NFC Championships with seven turnovers. I can promise you this, Peyton Manning and the Colts are not going to turn the ball over seven times.

While the Colts did not turn the ball over seven times, they turned it over one time too many, and I did say the winner of this game would be whoever wins the turnover battle (I'm just saying).

No Guts, No Glory

In all my years of watching football, I have never seen such aggressive play calling right from the kickoff: Sean Payton’s play calling in this game makes Bill Belichick look like an amateur. The New Orleans coach made all the right calls—even one that didn’t look so good at first, well, it turned out just fine.

The Saints all season have won games with some of the craziest plays we have seen in recent years, and whenever it looks like they just made a bad call or play, they turn things around.

This game was no different: Near the end of the first half, with his team trailing 10-3, Payton decided to go for it on fourth-and-goal from just outside the one instead of kicking a chip-shot field goal. When Pierre Thomas was stuffed for no gain, it looked as though Payton might be remembered for a big blunder.

With that play in the back of his mind, Payton it turned out was just getting warmed up.

Coming out of the tunnel for the second half he calls for an onside kick—the first time it had been attempted in this game before the desperation of the fourth quarter. The Saints recovered and drove for a touchdown that put them ahead for the first time, 13-10.

Thanks in large part to Payton’s bravado, the Saints won the first Super Bowl title in their franchise’s largely dismal history; the franchise that once was so awful its fans were embarrassed to show their faces is now a world champion.

The paper bags can be put away forever.

Who Dat? Drew Dat.

Hollywood couldn’t have written this movie any better.  Brees was a free-agent quarterback coming off major shoulder surgery when Payton selected him to lead the Saints out of their abyss. Brees quickly embraced the added burden of giving hope to a city devastated by the hurricane.

The quarterback who feared his career might be over after a near complete tear of his labrum in his final game with the Chargers in 2005 completed the ultimate comeback by leading the Saints and the city of New Orleans to a world championship in their first Super Bowl appearance and earning the Super Bowl MVP.

Sean Peyton found it easy to make all those gutsy calls with Brees completing a Super Bowl record-tying 32 passes (in 39 attempts) for 288 yards and two TDs, performed like a slick point guard, particularly after a subpar first quarter.

Over the final three quarters, Brees completed all but three of his 32 passes—and one of the incompletions was a drop by Bush in the flat and another was a spike to stop the clock.

He played a perfect game.

The Jeremy Shockey Story

For some of us from the NFC east, Jeremy Shockey is a tough tight end that opponents had to game plan a lot for and that fans love to watch, but after years of playing hard for the Giants, he wasn’t in uniform for the Giants against the Patriots in the biggest game of his career.

Shockey hauled in a touchdown catch for the go-ahead score Sunday night, helping the Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 for their first Super Bowl championship.

For Shockey, that two-yard score had to feel like redemption. He was with the New York Giants—in name only—when they won the Super Bowl two years ago, watching that title game from a suite and feeling like an outcast after breaking his left leg and not being part of their dazzling playoff run.

That essentially set up his trade to New Orleans.

I have always loved Shockey and admire the way he plays the game of football, and I am very happy to see him be a part of the New Orleans Saints’ sweetest victory.

A Team of Destiny

Brees said repeatedly he shares a bond with New Orleans, which was trying to recover from Hurricane Katrina at the same time he was rehabbing from shoulder surgery.

Brees and the city he loves were not to be denied a victory today even when there was reason for doubt in the second quarter when the Saints kept settling for field goals instead of touchdowns. During the regular season, they ranked fourth in the league in touchdown percentage (52.9) inside the opposing 30-yard by reaching the end zone on 45 of their 85 possessions.

But the Saints stayed with it, and when Indianapolis kicker Matt Stover missed a 51-yard field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter, the path to victory was open and the Saints could smell victory.

Peyton Manning had to have his last stand first, and he marched his guys from the Indy 25 to the New Orleans 31, but on third-and-five, Porter stepped in front of Reggie Wayne and returned the interception for a score and at that point, destiny was fulfilled.

Congratulations New Orleans Saints and the Who Dat? Nation.


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