On America's virtual football holiday, the fans sitting at home in the comfort of their living room received everything they could have asked for and more from the performance and spectacle that was Super Bowl XLIV.
There is nothing quite like sitting back on a lazy Sunday afternoon and watching wall to wall entertainment. The Super Bowl brings football fans, common sports fans, and the typical, "what just happened" fan all to the same gathering to rejoice in excitement and pout in bitter defeat.
However, during the Super Bowl, it was wall to wall excitement. Just the fact that the entertainment value displayed through both teams production and performance, was enough for the average sports fan to be left craving more.
Even during designated drink refills, seconds, thirds, and sometimes even fourth helpings of pizza, burgers, hot dogs, and all the other cliché finger foods, the commercials kept the audience laughing and fully locked into the total performance of the Super Bowl.
Even before kickoff, the hype started to build between the two teams. No one needed an extra boost to perform at the highest level, when we are talking about the Super Bowl. On the other hand, Saints' defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had a shot or two aimed towards the Colts' MVP quarterback, Peyton Manning.
Not only did the hype of this game live up to everything that fans could hope for, but as always storylines developed within the big game to keep the average fan enticed.
The game did not start with fireworks, at least on the field, but it was the Indianapolis Colts who struck first. It was not a touchdown; however, the Colts earned the first leg up in this contest, as the oldest player to ever participate in the Super Bowl, Matt Stover (42 years old) kicked the Colts into the lead.
And just when things started to heat up, the Indianapolis Colts looked to take control of the game late in the first quarter. Peyton Manning engineered a tremendous 96 yard drive capped off with a 19-yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon.
But you didn't think that the Saints were going to go down lightly did you?
Of course not. The Saints were the aggressors all night, and with the case being what it was, a 10-0 score, now more than ever was the time when the Saints had to play their best.
The Saints gave the Colts a little taste of their own medicine, to fight their way back into the game. With Drew Brees at the helm, New Orleans’ confidence level soared as the Saints marched down the field, but the drive was stalled by one Dwight Freeney.
Freeney had much speculation surrounding his health heading into the game, and especially his injured ankle. Well Drew Brees could attest that the defender's ankle was just fine in the first half, as Freeney reached out with his arm and through Brees down on a crucial third down.
A field goal was all the Saints could muster; however, it was time for Gregg Williams' defense to stifle Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts offense.
Whether it was conservative offensive play calling or hardnosed defense, the Saints got the job done in the second quarter relinquishing zero points as well as keeping Manning off the field.
Their only job was to close the gap even further between the Colts, and the Saints did just that. Well, maybe not as ideal as they would have liked, but in the end, the Saints cut the score to 10-6 following a ferocious goal line stand by the Colts, and another three and out by Manning. It was Garrett Hartley that split the uprights for the second time in the game, and it would not be his last kick either.
Could you feel the momentum starting to shift? Well if you didn't, the opening play following The Who's electrifying set coupled with the firework show that followed, got every fan right back into the excitement of what the Super Bowl had in store.
Sean Payton, the Saints head coach did not rely on luck or fate, he and the Saints set their sights on forcing the momentum to swing their way, or in this case, kick the momentum in the Saints direction.
Without a doubt, the second half had a totally different feel and intensity following the Saints impromptu onside kick to start the second half. Sean Payton fought to create and regain their own luck, and the Saints played mistake-free football for the entire game.
The second half seemed like big play after big play, by the Saints and Drew Brees. However it was not just Brees, the production came from eight different receivers, a solid offensive line, and a lockdown defense.
Offensively, the Saints took their first lead of the game when Drew Brees connected with Pierre Thomas for a 19-yard touchdown to cap off the Saints opening drive of the second half.
But sitting back, taking in the Super Bowl, one had to think in the back of their minds that Peyton Manning is going to have an answer. Why? The reason why is because it is Peyton Manning, arguably the best quarterback in the league, both mentally and physically, and the Colts have so much firepower on offense to be stopped.
Sure, you thought right, big number 18 walked onto that field with a quiet confidence and a calm demeanor, and started to drive the Colts down the field. Manning engineered a very balanced drive using his arm, as well as utilizing the ground attack with Joseph Addai. The final result on the drive was a four yard scamper by Addai to make the score 17-13 in favor of the Colts.
And you thought that The Who and all the laughable commercials were the best performances of the Super Bowl! Not so fast my friend, the action was just starting to heat up in Miami!
Nearly instantly, the Saints drove down the field in attempt to regain the lead late in the third quarter. However, another Garrett Hartley field goal was in the cards.
Hartley kicked his third field goal of the contest, as well as kicking himself into the record books, as the only kicker in Super Bowl history to make three field goals of forty or more yards. But Hartley's night would get much sweeter following his field goal.
New Orleans' defense was adding the finishing touches to their script of destiny, while Drew Brees was proving just which quarterback was more deserving of the MVP trophy.
At this point it was still up in the air, but as a fan, you had to think that the Saints were in fact a team destined for greatness.
The Saints offense had their usual playmakers step up, Brees, Pierre Thomas, Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, although when the going got tough, Jeremy Shockey, and Lance Moore were the catalysts on the Saints game-changing drive.
Jeremy Shockey, who missed the Giants Super Bowl win in 2008, caught the go-ahead touchdown pass from Brees with just under six minutes left. The predominantly pro-Saints crowd rejoiced at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, but following Lance Moore's acrobatic two point conversion reception, Saints fans were awaiting the nail in the coffin.
Whether it was a nail in the coffin or a dagger in the chest of Colts fans around the world, Saints fans rejoiced!
In the end, the game came down to one mistake and believe it or not, when the Super Bowl was on the line, one Peyton Manning was the performer with the spotlight on him. Manning was the quarterback that was intercepted, not Brees.
When Saints' cornerback Tracy Porter intercepted Manning with three minutes left in the game, it was almost a case of, "did that really just happen?" Only to blink your eyes, shake your head and listen to Jim Nantz say, "Tracy Porter is going to take it all the way to the end zone. Touchdown New Orleans!"
They say that, legendary performers make legendary plays on legendary stages. In American sports, there is no larger stage than the Super Bowl. And as fans, we thought that Peyton Manning was going to elevate his name and his career amongst the many Hall-of-Fame and elite players in NFL history, with his performance on Sunday.
It was Drew Brees, who exuded himself as a legend during the Super Bowl. As a player, Brees had a nearly perfect performance completing 32 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns. Brees placed his name amongst other elite Super Bowl performances like Phil Simms and Tom Brady.
As a person, Brees did everything right. Before the game Brees talked about how much a win would mean for the city of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana, and refrained from talking about the great accomplishments that the Saints achieved this season. Brees and the rest of the Saints knew that if they prepared and played their game, as a team, they could all rejoice and celebrate, as a nation on the grandest stage of them all.
What a way to cap off an excitement filled extravaganza known as the Super Bowl! And for me, the best image of the Super Bowl was not the commercials, the half time show, the action packed play, but a true sight to see: Drew Brees holding his one year old son in his arms with tears flowing from his eyes. That is the sight of something legendary!