American Football: Mardi Gras in Miami as Saints win first Super Bowl

view gallery VIEW GALLERY





The New Orleans Saints completed their long-awaited transformation from chumps to champions by defeating the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in the Super Bowl to claim their first NFL title.

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees completed 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns as he out-duelled the Colts' Peyton Manning to help the Saints recover from a 10-point first-quarter deficit.

"We just believed in ourselves," said Brees, who was named Most Valuable Player (MVP).

"We knew we had an entire city, maybe an entire country behind us. We're feeling it was all meant to be. It was destiny. Mardi Gras may never end."

The Mardi Gras-style celebration in the chilly Dolphin Stadium began when cornerback Tracy Porter picked off a Manning pass with just over three minutes left and raced 74 yards for a score to give the Saints a 31-17 lead.

"It's the kind of play we run a lot and Porter just made a great play," said a dejected Manning, a former New Orleans resident who finished with 31 completions in 45 attempts for 333 yards, one touchdown and that one very costly interception.

"Just very disappointing."

The Saints have been a ray of hope for beleaguered New Orleans since 2005 when Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast, leaving death and destruction in its wake.

"Coming to New Orleans and having that opportunity there was definitely a calling," said Brees. "It was an opportunity that not many get in their entire life, to come to a city that had just been devastated by a natural disaster.

"Not only were we rebuilding an organization and a team, but also a city and a region. It was a mentality that we've been through so much yet we're going to come back stronger."

New Orleans had looked shellshocked to be in their first Super Bowl as Indianapolis took a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Garrett Hartley, however, kicked two of his three field goals in the second quarter and, although they trailed 10-6 at the half, the Saints were back in business.

The Saints stunned the Colts with successful onside kick to open the second half and the dividends were immediate. A 16-yard scoring pass from Brees to Pierre Thomas on the ensuing drive gave the Saints their first lead at 13-10.

"It was a huge turning point in the game," said Colts defensive back Melvin Bullitt. "They scored on that drive immediately and we just couldn't stop them in the second half."

New Orleans still entered the final quarter trailing 17-16 but Brees hit Jeremy Shockey on a two-yard scoring pass to give them a 22-17 lead with under six minutes remaining.

Brees found Lance Moore on a two-point conversion that was ruled incomplete but the Saints successfully challenged the call.

Porter, who had a key pickoff against Minnesota in the NFC championship, then effectively sealed the victory with his dramatic interception, pointing to the Saints fans in the end zone during the last 20 yards of his run-in.

Porter said he knew what Colts receiver Reggie Wayne was going to do on the play.

"It was great film study, a great jump, and a great play," he said. "This means so much. Words can't describe how much this means for New Orleans. I am a Louisiana native and this is real big."

The Saints fans among the 75,000 in Dolphin Stadium erupted after Porter's pickoff, knowing their first title was imminent. Thousands stayed well after the game to savour the moment.

"The stadium atmosphere was a huge edge for us," said Saints coach Sean Payton. "I felt like we took the lid off the Superdome and it was outside. It was clearly a Saints crowd and we were happy about that."

New Orleans scored the first time they touched the ball as a new franchise back in 1967 but the team not only lost the game, the city waited two decades before their first winning season.

"Hopefully, they're in the streets partying," said Saints receiver Marques Colston. "These fans have come a long, long way."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service and Business Support Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: By developing intimate relationships with inte...

Recruitment Genius: Application Support Engineer - Software

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A small rapidly expanding IT So...

The Grange Retirement Home: Full Time Care Team Manager

£22,400: The Grange Retirement Home: This is a key role which requires a sound...

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada