The Colts went into Sunday’s Super Bowl as the team expected to win. Former Colts head coach Tony Dungy was so confident that he said he would be “absolutely shocked” if the Colts lost, predicting a ho-hum, two score victory.
Las Vegas sports books were so confident in a Colts victory that they had the Colts as 5 1/2 point favourites, and bettors were so confident that they STILL laid money down heavily towards the Colts.
It seems that almost everyone was confident that a Colts victory would occur except for a few optimists (like myself), and of course, the Saints.
The Colts got started quickly after the Saints opened with a three and out, scoring a field goal on their first drive. After the Saints were forced to punt yet again, the Colts marched down the field thanks to quarterback Peyton Manning and running back Joseph Addai. Addai recorded the longest run of the game after little-used linebacker Cody Glenn lined up at fullback and sprinted to the right of the field, taking two defenders with him and allowing Addai to gain 26 yards on a shifty run up the middle. Three plays later and the Colts were in the end zone, with Manning throwing to a wide-open Pierre Garcon.
On their next drive the Saints found themselves deep in enemy territory facing a third and short, but a great move by banged-up defensive end Dwight Freeney saw the game get its first and only sack, forcing the Saints into making a long field goal.
After the Saints were able to force the Colts into their first three and out, they were able to reach the goal line thanks to huge plays by Marques Colston and Lance Moore. But coach Sean Payton made the first of a few gutsy calls and elected to go for it on fourth down, but Colts linebacker Gary Brackett easily stopped Pierre Thomas, forcing the turnover on downs.
The Saints were somehow able to force yet another Colts three and out, and squeaked out a field goal as time ran out to end the half with a rather boring 10-6 Colts lead.
After an excellent halftime performance by legendary rockers The Who, Payton made his second risky decision of the night, surprising the Colts with the first-ever onside kick converted before the fourth quarter. The Saints used that momentum to take their first lead on a 16-yard scamper by Pierre Thomas, but the Colts answered right back with an Addai touchdown.
After the Saints kicked yet another long field goal to pull the game within one at 17-16, the Colts made a dumb decision in having 42-year-old Matt Stover, the oldest player to ever play in the Super Bowl, attempt a 51-yard field goal. Stover, who hadn’t made a field goal longer than 50 yards since 2006, shanked it wide left, giving the Saints excellent field position.
On the ensuing drive tight end Jeremy Shockey grabbed a short touchdown pass and the Saints converted a two-point attempt that was originally ruled no good to take a seven point lead 24-17.
With 5:35 left in the game and all three of their time outs, Peyton Manning was given the ball to do what he does best and bring back the Colts. On third and five from the Saints’ 31, Manning must’ve thought he saw favourite target Reggie Wayne open, but Saints cornerback Tracy Porter stepped in front of the pass and returned for a touchdown, making it two consecutive games with huge plays by Porter. (He was the one who picked off Brett Favre late in the fourth quarter of the NFC championship, forcing overtime and an eventual Saints win).
After Reggie Wayne dropped a pass in the end zone on the fourth down of the next drive, the Saints were able to lineup in the victory formation to run out the clock and give the city that has struggled so much in recent years its first-ever Super Bowl victory. Quarterback Drew Brees earned MVP honours, throwing for 288 yards and two touchdowns.
Manning proved once again that the Colts are a team built for the regular season as the Saints silenced many doubters in winning Super Bowl XLIV, ensuring Drew Brees a place in history and a possible future spot in the Hall of Fame.