This game came down to one courageous coach. Towards the end of the first half, with his team down 10-3, Saints coach Sean Payton kept his offense out on the field on 4th and goal from the 1. The move failed. I thought it was the wrong decision only because there wasn't enough time on the second quarter clock to affect field position if they came up short.
It's 3rd and 1 deep in Colts territory and less than a minute to go in the half. Payton takes a risk and calls his team's second timeout. I thought it was the wrong decision again. If Peyton Manning throws a 30 yard completion, the Colts are in business and Payton looks like a moron. Instead, the Saints stop the Colts running attack. The Saints get good field position on the ensuing punt and, after a couple of pass plays, get a field goal out of it.
So the Saints came away with the three points they would've had otherwise. But. Manning was reduced to three handoffs in the interim. Always a positive for any Colts opponent.
To start the second half, Payton made his biggest call of the season. A surprise onside led to a Saints recovery. I didn't agree with that decision either. In resulted in quarterback Drew Brees waking up and driving his team to the end zone. The Saints took a 13-10 lead. Brees ended the game by tying a Super Bowl record 32 completions. It was the first attempted onside kick before the 4th quarter in a Super Bowl.
When Manning came back onto the field, he hadn't completed a pass in 70 minutes of real time. That didn't matter. His team scored a touchdown on the drive. Running back Joseph Addai has an uncharacteristically strong game. Dallas Clark was Manning's main receiving threat on this day.
The Saints offense didn't wither away. Brees had gained his rhythm by that point. New Orleans closed the lead to within one with another field goal. After some possession trading, the Saints finally broke through with a touchdown and a two point conversion halfway through the fourth quarter. That set up a familiar scene. Peyton Manning with 6 minutes to go, his team down by 7. Was there any doubt that he'd take his team in for the game-tying score? Only Saints cornerback Tracy Porter questioned the outcome. After sustaining a predictably effective drive, Porter shockingly broke on a Manning pass, picked it, and took it to the house.
New Orleans was up 31-17 faster than you could google "Tracy Porter." Things were looking down for the Colts magical ending. Manning drove down to the Saints goal line, but wasn't able to punch it in on 4th and goal. He had called a timeout late in the drive, which sealed the outcome.
Drew Brees was named Super Bowl MVP. The Saints tied the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history (10 points). And Sean Payton earned a bit of job security.
Favorite commercial: I liked the promo with David Letterman, Oprah, and Jay Leno the best.