The Super Bowl is just 8 days away. Let’s look at the Super Bowl from 8 years ago to honor this not-so-significant occasion!
South Florida hosted Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010. The game pitted the NFC champion New Orleans Saints against the Indianapolis Colts of the American Football Conference. Peyton Manning was going up against his father Archie’s old team.
New Orleans Saints 8 Years Ago
New Orleans had come up from the dregs of professional football. It took them a ridiculous thirty-four seasons to win a single playoff game. After a hurricane battered their city in 2005, they had a dreadful season. That opened the door to the acquisition of Head Coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees. That combo helped the Saints win their second playoff game in 2006.
In 2009, expectations were quite high. They were jam-packed at wide receiver, but nobody was better than Marques Colston. With running backs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush and veteran tight end Jeremy Shockey, Drew Brees had a host of weapons at his disposal. Thus, he passed for 4, 388 yards and led the Saints to a 13-0 start. They took their foot off the gas as they clinched everything at the end of the regular season.
In the playoffs, Brees was his usual dynamite self in a 45-14 win over the defending-conference champion Cardinals. The win set up a wonderful matchup between the Saints and Minnesota Vikings. The Vikes were led by ancient Brett Favre and all-world Adrian Peterson.
Battle for NFC Title
The game was as see-saw a battle as there has ever been. The Vikings were as capable of making a big play on offense as they were of coughing up the ball with a momentum-changing turnover. Minnesota outgained the Saints, 475-257, but were -4 in turnover differential. The Saints’ defense was hitting Minnesota players especially Favre with tremendous ferocity throughout the game.
Brees was calm under fire as he tossed three touchdown passes and 0 interceptions. With the score tied at 28, the Vikings found themselves in great field position with an opportunity to kick a potential game-winning in regulation. However, the veteran gunslinger made a critical mistake as he threw across his body toward the middle of the field where Saints’ cornerback Tracy Porter stole the trophy.
In overtime, the Saints drove the field on the first possession for a game-winning field goal by Garrett Hartley. The Saints were off to their first Super Bowl in franchise history!
Indianapolis Colts 8 Years Ago
Their opponents would be Jim Caldwell and the Indianapolis Colts. The ’09 Colts started the season 14-0 led by the amazing Peyton Manning. Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne both caught 100 passes and exceeded 1000 receiving yards for the season. And, on defense, Dwight Freeney was a first-team All-Pro recording 13.5 sacks in just nine starts.
Caldwell controversially sat many of his main guys over the last two games costing them the chance to go undefeated. In the playoffs, the Colts held off challenges by the Ravens and Jets to make it back to their second Super Bowl in four seasons.
Colts Early Lead
Indy controlled the first quarter converting three third downs en route to a 10-0 lead. Young Pierre Garcon was the recipient of a gorgous Manning lob for the first touchdown of the game. The Saints responded with a good second quarter. The unsung Hartley connected on two long field goals to cut the lead to 10-6 at the half.
Payton rolled the dice with an onside kick to open the second half and it worked. The Saints made the gamble pay off with a perfect screen play to Thomas. The Colts would not go away, however. Manning led them right back on a scoring drive that included two more third down conversions. Joseph Addai scored the go-ahead touchdown. Hartley responded with another long field goal.
Saints Get the Lombardi
In the fourth quarter, the Colts drove to the Saints 34 and decided to go for a field goal. Adam Vinatieri was out with an injury. Veteran Matt Stover missed setting up New Orleans with great field possession and they took advantage. The Saints regained the lead on a short scoring strike from Brees to Shockey. They added a 2-point conversion and led 24-17 late in the fourth.
The Colts moved the ball well again. However, on this third down, Manning and Wayne seemed to be on different pages. Porter jumped the route and took the interception to the house. The Saints won Super Bowl XLIV 31-17 setting off a party on Bourbon Street like never before!
Neither the Colts nor the Saints have aspired to such lofty heights since. But, in 2009, they gave football fans a great game. Tomorrow, we’ll discuss how the Green Bay Packers brought the Lombardi Trophy home!
Brandon Fazzolari is a Super Bowl expert…@spot_Bills