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
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea