February 7, 2010: The Saints had for so long been the laughingstock of the league. The so-called "Aints" had never been to a Super Bowl. Quarterback Drew Brees and co would forever change that label.
Super Bowl XLIV in Miami was the first time in 16 years the top seeds from both conferences reached the big game. The Colts (14-2) and the Saints (13-3) were the two best teams in the league.
It's also fitting that the Saints were going to have to beat Peyton Manning, the son of Saints legend Archie Manning, to get their first title.
The game on paper looked like it would be a shootout between two great offenses. The New Orleans offense led the NFL in scoring, averaging just under 32 points per game. Brees finished the season as the NFL's top rated quarterback (109.6), completing an NFL-record 70.6% of his passes for 4,338 yards and 34 touchdowns, with just 11 interceptions. Manning, on the other hand, threw for over 4,500 yards and 33 touchdowns during the season, with only 16 interceptions, earning him a 99.9 passer rating and a league record fourth Most Valuable Player Award.
But the first half featured only one touchdown at the end of the first quarter on a Manning-to-Pierre Garcon 19-yard pass. The Colts led 10-0, but the Saints got two field goals to cut it to 10-6 at the half.
The start of the second half is when the real fireworks began. The Saints ran one of the greatest trickeries in NFL history in a play they called "Ambush". Thomas Morstead kicked the ball off to his left, and after going 15-yards it bounced off the facemask of Hank Baskett (yea Kendra's Hank). The Saints recovered and the Colts looked stunned. It was the first onside kick not in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. Take a look how it was designed and unfolded:
After that, Brees and the offense went to work. A check down pass to his running back Pierre Thomas for a 16-yard touchdown and the Saints had their first lead at 13-10.
The Colts would answer with another touchdown of their own on their first possession of the half on Joseph Addai's 4-yard run. But those would be the last points they'd score on this day.
A Saints field goal made it 17-16 entering the fourth quarter. After a Colts missed field goal, Brees would cap off a drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeremy Shockey. That Saints got a controversial two-point conversion that was initially ruled no good but overturned by replay.
Down 24-17, Manning had a chance to tie the game. But after driving, his errant pass was picked off by defender Tracy Porter, who returned it all the way back for a 74-yard touchdown with just over 3 minutes remaining.
The Colts couldn't get in the end zone despite moving the ball to the 3-yard line, and the game ended at 31-17. The Saints were finally kings of the NFL world.
Brees was 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns, and was named the Super Bowl MVP.
Here's to you New Orleans Saints and your Super Bowl win.