Super Bowl XLIV will go down as one of the best NFL Championship games of all-time.
The 31-17 upset victory by the Saints, is memorable because of the great play of the two quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, the huge television audience watching, and what the win meant to the still recovering city of New Orleans.
For me, it was my first and hopefully not last trip to the Super Bowl to attend in person. Miami was a refreshing place to be as the New York City area was dealing with a snow storm. Had the chance to attend a number of pregame events including a flag football game in the Coconut Grove park which Doug Flutie played in, a dinner with Mark Sanchez and Steve Young, the pregame tailgate which included a competition between bakers to build the best Super Bowl cake.
It was noticeable that their were not a lot of children at the game, mostly a lot of middle-aged folks who managed to obtain tickets to take in what was for many a once in a lifetime experience. The day did not disappoint.
Hope you enjoy a few of my game pictures from Super Bowl XLIV.
When you go to the Super Bowl, at the airport you will be greeted by volunteers from the Chamber of Commerce who will offer a welcome, answer any questions and provide info on things to do. It was great to see all the decorations for the game in the airport and on the street signs.
I know they are coming to New York and New Jersey in a couple of years, but if I only go to one Super Bowl, Miami was a great place to be.
This was the scene on the street in Coconut Grove down from my hotel. It is just so refreshing in the winter to see green grass, palm trees and break out the shorts and polo shirts.
Yes, that's former NFL and Canadian League QB Doug Flutie playing in a celebrity Flag football game in Coconut Grove. Lots of competition and a bit of talking, but it appeared just like an early fall day on a college campus.
Sun Life Stadium home of the Miami Dolphins and the Orange Bowl received an upgrade for the game. An amazing number of planes displaying advertising were circling the stadium at a short distance from the airspace. There really was a buzz about enter the grounds.
Driving up to the stadium in bus escorted by the police was kind of neat.
Once through security we went into the NFL Tail Gate Party, which was a several acre section of the parking lot closed off and outfitted with music, bars, food stands, souvenirs, and a cake baking contest.
Everyone was seeing who was there, what team you were a fan of, what part of the country you were from. The food stands provided quite a bit of variety but the lines were a bit long. Everyone was patient, as this was for most a once in a life time experience to be where every football fan in the country might like to be that day.
The bakers did a great job with this cake.
This one looked like it could fall and it was a bit hard to see the detail on top.
Outside of the NFL Tail Gate that required a special ticket, was a section of food and souvenir stands that ran along side a small football turf area that broadcasters were running around on.
You can see what a beautiful day it was to be outside in 60 degree temperatures in early February.
At many NFL games, fans rush in just before the start or even during the first quarter, but at the Super Bowl, most everyone entered stadium early and enjoyed the scene taking pictures.
The attendance for the game would be 74,059.
It was a beautiful Miami afternoon as the teams started to warm-up.
The Florida A&M Band was very lively with high energy drum majors up front.
What a great activity it is for youth and students to be in a band. You learn how to play an instrument, perform as a team in the orchestra, and then learn how to move in precision on a football field in front of over 70,000 people.
The large video scoreboards were easily seen without dominating the stadium.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on the podium presenting an award.
The Saints had been 13-3 on the year.
The Colts came into the game with a 14-2 record on the 2009 season.
Pictures of large flags on football fields are always impressive. I would have preferred a real Flag versus one that was presented in streams.
Carrie Underwood sings "The Star Spangled Banner."
The coin used for the Super Bowl was taken into space by the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on mission STS-129 in November 2009.
The new Class of 2010 inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame participated: Rickey Jackson, Russ Grimm, John Randle, Floyd Little, Dick LeBeau, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith.
We had met Jerry Rice at our hotel that morning where he gave a talk. Rice said that running up a mountain in the San Francisco area had given him the endurance to outperform other players in the fourth quarter of games.
The Saints won the toss and decided to receive to start the game.
The game started at 6:31 PM EST enjoying clear weather with just a slight six mph wind from the north. By the end of the night it did get a bit chilly and the jackets we brought along felt good.
After all the promo, the game finally started.
Both teams used the "Shotgun" formation extensively in the game.
Drew Brees looks deep to Robert Meachem, but is incomplete.
The Saints Thomas Morstead punted the ball 42 yards to the Colts 27 yard line.
Peyton Manning's first pass was an 18 yard completion to tight end Dallas Clark.
Payton Manning used the "No Huddle Offense" and the "Shotgun" to start the game.
Yes, you could imagine I had a good seat at the game.
Payton Manning threw for a second First Down with a seven yard completion to Dallas Clark at the Saints 42 yard line.
On third and fourth, Manning works no huddle and sets in the shot gun.
On third and fourth from the Saints 49 yard line, Peyton Manning sets up to pass to tight end Dallas Clark, resulting in a seven yard gain to the 42.
Both quarterbacks in this game threw for a record number of completions.
With first and 10 at the Saints 42, Manning passes incomplete looking for Dallas Clark, then completes a three yard gain to Pierre Garcon taking ball on third down to the 39.
On third and seven, Manning passes over the middle to Collie for a 14-yard gain and a first down.
Manning throws on second and 12 to Austin Collie for Saints 20 for seven yard gain.
Joseph Addai would rush for 77 yards on the day and catch seven passes for 58 yards.
The Colts drive stalled at 3rd and 5 on the New Orleans 20 yard line when Manning threw incomplete to Pierre Garcon. Matt Stover came in to kick a 38 yard field goal to give the Colts the early 3-0 lead at 7:29 of the first quarter. The drive took 11 plays, 53 years, and took 5:31 secs.
After a False Start penalty on the Colts, the Colts had two and 12. From the shotgun, Manning completed a pass short right to Joseph Addai for seven yards to the 20 but still left a third and fifth.
After Courtney Roby ran back, the Colts second kick off of the game went 24 yards to the Saints own 26 yard line.
The Saints generated one first down on a third down Drew Brees pass to Reggie Bush for 16 yards. Morstead made his second punt of the day to the Colts four yard line.
Morstead's punt created a long field for the Colts to work with.
After staring at his own four yard line, Peyton Manning completed a 11 yard pass to Donald Brown then Joseph Addai ran 16 yards off his own right guard for 16 yards. Addai then ran for 11 more yards to to the Colts 42.
With two and 10 at own 31, Manning hands to Joseph Addai who runs around left end until pushed out for important 11 yard gain to 42.
With the ball on the Saints 49 yard line, Joseph Addai ran up the middle for 26 yards to the 23.
On third and six from the New Orleans 19 yard line, with no huddle and playing from the shotgun, Peyton Manning looks into the end zones and throws...
From the New Orleans 19 yard line, Peyton Manning throws into the end zone for Pierre Garcon who out runs two Saints defenders to score the first touchdown of the day. Do you see the ball about to be caught?
The TD catch capped an 11 play 96 yard drive that took just 4:36 to complete. Stover converted the extra point kick to give the Colts a 10-0 lead late in the first quarter. It looked like a day when Colts might dominate.
Colts will wish they had converted both "Red Zone" visits into touchdowns.
Scoreboard tells the story
Courtney Roby ran the Colts kick back 24 yards from the end zone to the 21. A penalty moved the ball back to the 11 where Mike Bell ran the ball to the 15.
Drew Brees threw to Marques Colston for 11 yards, Reggie Bush added eight on a run around the right side, then the Colts' strongside linebacker Philip Wheeler was called for "unnecessary roughness" to provide a first and 10 at the 50 yard line.
Pierre Thomas caught a nine yard pass, then ran inside for two more to give the Saints a first down at the Colts 39.
Brees then threw for 10 yards to Marques Colston for another first down at the 29.
Drew Brews connects on this throw to Devery Henderson for six yards to the Colts 22.
After Brees completed a six yard pass to Devery Henderson, Brees looks for end zone but is pressured by the Colts' defense.
Drew Brees is sacked for a seven yard loss by Saints' defensive end Dwight Freeney. The drive stalled on fourth and 10 from the 29, Garrett Hartley was called on to get the Saints on the scoreboard with a field goal.
Garret Hartley kicks 46 yard field goal to get back within a TD of the Colts. Drive was 11 plays and 60 yards taking 6:02 off the clock and giving the Saints' defense some rest.
Colts start their drive at their own 22, but a pass and run by Addai and an incompletion force the Colts to punt, momentum is starting to shift to the Saints.
Drew Brees got the New Orleans' offense driving again after taking the Colts punt at their own 28. Passes to Thomas, Colston, Shockey and Moore have the Saints at the Colts 44 yard line.
After a seven yard loss back to the 30, Drew Brees throws a pass over the middle which Marques Colston is able to run to the Colts third yard line.
A 27 yard pass play from Drew Brees to M Colston brought the ball to the Colts three.
On first and goal from the three, a pass completion thrown right to Lance Moore was stopped for no gain at the three.
On second down, a Saints' false starts penalty brought the ball back to the eight, but Thomas ran around the right side for seven to set up third and goal from the one.
On third and goal from the one , No. 21 Mike Bell ran off tackle by the Colts Kelvin Hayden for no gain.
On fourth and first, Pierre Thomas was stopped running around the right end for no gain. The Colts took over at their own one yard line with 1:49 left in the second quarter.
Taking over on their own one yard line with 1:49 left in the half, the Colts ran three times with Hart twice, and by Addai, and punted on fourth down from their one yard line.
The Saints took the punt on their own 48 with :35 seconds left in the half. Brees passes to Henderson for 19 yards, spikes the ball, then passes again to Henderson for six yards and Reggie Bush for one yard. Garrett Hartley then hits his second field goal of the game from 44 yards, to get the Saints within four points at the end of the first half.
Air Crew members
While many were still taking a break after "The Who" concert, New Orleans went for broke at the start of the second half, with an on-side that went 12 yards and was recovered for the Saints by strong safety Chris Reis at their own 42.
Drew Brees then led a six play, 58 yard march down the field culminating in a 16 yard TD pass to tight end David Thomas. With the extra point kick by Garrett Hartley, the Saints take the lead in the game 13-10.
The Colts managed a 10 play, 76 yard drive starting at their own 24 that resulted in a four yard run over right tackle.
On this play from Saints 47, Manning throws to the sideline where Joseph Addai makes the catch for two yard gain.
After falling behind the Colts again at 17-13, the Saints benefited from a 34 yard run back from Courtney Roby to their own 34. Thomas ran for five yards, pass for 13 yards to Reggie Bush, and a pass to Henderson for 12 yards, left the ball 1st and 10 on the Colts 36.
On fourth and third at the 29, Garrett Hartley lined up and kicked a 47 yard field goal to bring the Saints within one point at 17-16 Colts at 12:59 of the third Quarter.
The Colts took over on their own 11 yard line. Manning leads the Colts into Saints' territory, but on fourth and 11 from the Saints 33 yard line, M Stover misses a 51 yard field goal.
Colts remain holding onto a one point 17-16 lead lead early in the fourth quarter
After the Colts 51 yard field goal is missed, the Saints take over in good field position on their own 41 yard line. Reggie Bush runs off tackle for 12 yards into Colt territory on the 47. Drew Brees then hits Pierre Thomas for five yards on the first of six-straight completions for the Saints.
Drew Brees goes on a tear hitting Henderson for six yards to the 36, then Reggie Bush for eight yards to the 28.
A pass to Colston gained eight yards and a first down at the Colts 20. Brees then threw to Robert Meachem for six yards to the 14, then Pierre Thomas for nine yards down to the Colts five and first and goal. Pierre Thomas then ran for three yards to the Colts two yard line.
On second and two from the Colts two yard line, Drew Brees found former New York Giant tight end Jeremy Shockey on a slant in pass for the score to give the Saints back the lead by five points.
Drew Brees looks to Lance Moore heading towards the flag for the two point score.
Initially the play was ruled incomplete, but on review the completion was ruled. This gave the Saints a seven point lead with 5:42 left in the game.
After the two point conversion, Thomas Morstead kicks off for the Saints
Peyton Manning an all-time great quarterback
With first and 10 at the Saints 48, Manning passes to Reggie Wayne for a 12 yard gain to the Saints 36.
From the Saints 36 yard line, Manning looks for Reggie Wayne completing a five yard pass to the Saints 31. On second down, his pass is incomplete looking for Collie.
After an incomplete pass on second down, Drew Brees sets for key third down and five from the Saints 31 yard line.
On third and five from the Saints 31, Peyton Manning looks left for Reggie Wayne, but the right cornerback Tracy Porter anticipates the play.
Tracy Porter steps in front of Reggie Wayne and intercepts Manning's pass with clear sailing to the end zone and a defensive touchdown, that all but ices the victory for New Orleans.
In a dramatic play, cornerback Tracy Porter's interception of Peyton Manning's pass all but clinches the Super Bowl win for the Saints. Garrett Hartley added the extra point to give the Saints a 31-17 lead with 4:12 remaining.
Tracy Porter makes key play of the game.
Chad Simpson gave the Colts a 25 yard run back to the 24, but holding was called and the ball was placed down at the 14.
Peyton Manning never quits and despite being down 14 points with just 3:05 left in the Super Bowl, he started the Colts down the field once again. This pass to Dallas Clark resulted in 11 yards to the 30 yard line.
Manning connected with Austin Collie over the middle for 40 yards to the Saints 30. Then he throws to Joseph Addai for 17 yards again over the middle to the Saints 13.
Peyton Manning makes one last attempt to score, but his fourth and goal attempt was incomplete.
Drew Brees took the victory formation and the Saints had won their first Super Bowl.
Hard to imagine how meaningful this Super Bowl victory was to all those in New Orleans–who had lived through many tough days.
Presentation of Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Happy group of Saints.
Fireworks above Miami.
Hopefully, this will not be the only Super Bowl I have the opportunity to attend. I was the guest of a friend going on a corporate trip. The weather was great in Miami, sunny and in the 60s, a lot better than the blizzard my wife was dealing with back home. Transportation by bus to the dinners and game had a police escort.
We met several NFL players. At one event, Jerry Rice talked about the mountain he would run up in San Francisco, he felt those extreme workouts prepared him to outperform opponents in the fourth quarter of games.
The fan fest was a lot of fun before the game, there was music, interactive games and a cake baking contest. Most everyone was patient and polite. Once inside the stadium, it really was not a lot different from other big games, except that the pregame and halftime shows were a lot more elaborate and we saw a few celebrities.
The television broadcast creates lots of hype, but leaves those in the stadium with plenty of time between the moments of action. Not many children, mostly a lot of middle aged people like us taking everything in and stopping for pictures. Hope you liked my photos.
Most of the fans attending who were not from Indiana were rooting for the Saints, so it was a neat atmosphere. This Super Bowl will be remembered as the duel between Payton Manning and Drew Brees. Manning made one sloppy pass, which the Saints intercepted for a touchdown which largely decided the game.
The stadium was packed but orderly, not the excessive beer drinking noticeable at other games. For each person in the stands, there were over 1,000 watching on television. Overall, it was a great winter trip, nice weather in Miami, my host and I drove drove down to the Florida Keys for a couple of days–which I can highly recommend. Hopefully I'll get to another Super Bowl, but who knows, this one was a blast!
Ken Kraetzer covers West Point football and Iona College basketball for Bleacher Report. In the the fall he broadcasts the West Point Football Report on WVOX 1460 from New Rochelle, NY. Mondays at 2:30, he broadcasts the Sons of the American Legion Report covering veterans and military issues on WVOX. Both shows can be heard nationally on WVOX.com and recordings are available on www.legionpost50ny.com. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.