Super Bowl XLIV: New Orleans Saints “Geaux” Their Own Way

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Super Bowl XLIV: New Orleans Saints “Geaux” Their Own Way
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Leading up to Super Bowl XLIV, everyone was saying the same thing: "My heart says the Saints, but my head says the Colts."

Maybe it's time to start going with your heart.

On the waves of a second-half surge, the New Orleans Saints' 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts silenced all the doubters who didn’t believe.

Those who didn't believe the Saints could win after losing their last three regular season games.

Those who didn't believe that anyone who loses to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can go on to take home the Lombardi Trophy.

Those who didn't believe that Drew Brees could outshine Peyton Manning.

None of that skepticism mattered to the Saints.

"We believed in ourselves," Brees said during the presentation of the Lombardi Trophy, while confetti rained down on him.

But while Brees might have been the one to walk away with the MVP title, he certainly shares it with the rest of his team. From the coaches to the players, they all played their part in the victory on Sunday.

Head Coach Sean Payton never stopped playing to win. His aggressive attitude and decision-making were a testament to his faith in the players.

The decision to go for a touchdown on 4th-and-1 in the final two minutes of the first half showed his players that he believed in their abilities. And the gutsy onside kick call to open the second half showed that he would never quit on them.

Then there was Gregg Williams, who made a name for himself with remarks about going after Peyton Manning with some "remember-me hits." Unfortunately for him, that game plan backfired as the Colts went into halftime with a 10-6 lead.

Williams, however, did not let stubborn pride get in the way of making changes. After dialing back the blitzes, the defense took a more coverage-oriented approach and used scheme changes to confuse Manning.

It worked, as the Colts were held to a single touchdown for the second half.

The coaches were able to put the players in the best situations to make the most plays, and play they did.

Aside from throwing 32 completions for 288 yards and two touchdowns, Drew Brees connected with eight different receivers during the game. Marques Colston and Devery Henderson led the group, each with seven receptions for 83 and 63 yards, respectively.

However, even the less-involved receivers made their mark on the night.

Pierre Thomas, who never let just one defender take him down, took a screen pass 16 yards to the house in the third quarter, giving the Saints their first lead.

Jeremy Shockey, who only had three receptions for 13 yards the whole night, made a quick two-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter to put the Saints back ahead of the Colts, where they would remain the rest of the game.

And who can forget about Lance Moore's two-point conversion? In what has to be one of the most spectacular individual efforts of the night, Moore caught the ball just outside of the end zone, but deftly moved it across the scoring plane on his way to the ground. At first ruled an incompletion, the challenge by Payton proved that Moore maintained possession before it was kicked out of his hands.

Even though it didn't make a difference in the end, Moore's two-point conversion could have easily mattered if things had gone another way. For example, if Tracy Porter didn't intercept Manning for a "pick six."

Porter, a Louisiana native, proved his worth this postseason by making two crucial interceptions the past two games. In this last one, his diligent film study allowed him to aggressively jump Reggie Wayne's route on a familiar third down play by the Colts.

For all intents and purposes, that play sealed the game.

But let's not forget about two players who quietly made a big difference: the kickers.

Averaging 44 yards per punt, Thomas Morstead only kicked the ball twice (both times in the first quarter), but neither punt was returned for any yardage. The Colts were stopped at the point of reception on the first punt, and Courtney Roby downed the second one at the Colts' four-yard line.

Garrett Hartley, meanwhile, showed the NFL what a young placekicker is capable of.

Hartley kept alive what little momentum the Saints had in the first half. When the Saints' third drive of the game stalled on a sack by Dwight Freeney, Hartley was there to nail a 46-yard field goal. And he connected again on 44-yard field goal to keep the Saints within four points of the Colts going into halftime.

When it was all said and done, Hartley became the first kicker to make three 40-plus-yard field goals in the Super Bowl.

Tack on to that the clean execution of a momentum-changing onside kick by Morestead, and the Saints might not have won without these two special teams players.

The New Orleans Saints were proclaimed by most to be the underdogs of the Super Bowl, having to face the highly praised Peyton Manning and his Indianapolis Colts.

And it certainly looked that way going into halftime.

But they never gave up and they didn't just play for themselves. They did it for each other and for a city with a unique and unwavering personality.

"Everybody back in New Orleans gets a piece of this trophy," declared Sean Payton upon his acceptance of the award.

For in the end, the Saints did it their way.

What drove them to a victory in Super Bowl XLIV were the same things that brought them there in the first place: teamwork, perseverance, and a lot of heart.

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