Saturday, February 7, 2015

When the Saints Came Marching In

I truly have lived to see some astonishing things in my life.

Man walked on the moon for the first time when I was but a boy. A president resigned in disgrace; another was put through the impeachment process because of an improper relationship with a White House intern.

In my life, I have seen telephones evolve from gadgets that were tied to locations to gadgets that could go anywhere — and take photos to prove it.

When I was working on my master's degree and I had to do research, I would probably spend at least one weekend — most likely more — going through the card catalog at the campus library. Today, I could do much of my research in a few minutes on my computer. That sure would have made writing term papers easier.

I've seen a lot of amazing things in sports, not the least of which was what happened in Miami five years ago today. The New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl against the Indianapolis Colts in Miami.

If you're under a certain age, that may not impress you. The Saints may have always been a strong team in your memory. But you must understand. I'm old enough to remember when the Saints were called the "Ain'ts" and their fans wore paper bags over their heads to home games. Maybe they had fans who wore bags to the road games, too, although it is hard to imagine the Saints having either New Orleans–based fans who would travel to see the Saints get hammered or fan clubs in other NFL cities back in those days.

But five years ago today, they stood atop the football world. No one was wearing a paper bag that day, and there were pockets of Saints fans to be found across the country.

In the first quarter, it didn't look like the Saints would win. The Colts got off to a 10–0 lead, scoring on their first two possessions, and they made the lead hold up at intermission. They didn't score in the second quarter, but they held the Saints to a couple of field goals.

At halftime, it looked like Peyton Manning might win his second Super Bowl. He led the Colts to a victory over the Chicago Bears three years earlier in Super Bowl XLI.

His brother matched him the following season in the New York Giants' amazing upset of the unbeaten New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Five years ago today, Peyton Manning had the chance to go one up on his younger brother.

And the Colts continued to lead after three quarters — although the Saints did take the lead for about five minutes after Drew Brees completed a 16–yard scoring strike to Pierre Thomas on the first possession of the second half.

But Manning directed a 10–play, 76–yard scoring drive, and the Colts reclaimed the lead, 17–13. New Orleans got a field goal before the quarter ended with Indianapolis clinging to a 17–16 lead.

Indianapolis would not score again, and through about two–thirds of the final period, it looked like the Saints wouldn't score, either.

But New Orleans scored twice.

Brees completed a pass to Jeremy Shockey for a touchdown, then hooked up with Lance Moore for a two–point conversion and a seven–point lead.

On the following possession, Manning and the Colts were driving in New Orleans territory when Tracy Porter picked off a pass and ran it back for a touchdown and a commanding 31–17 lead for New Orleans.

A little over three minutes remained. The Colts did manage to drive into New Orleans territory, but it took them too long to do so, and they turned it over on downs on the Saints' 5 with only seconds to play.

Brees, who completed 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns, was named the game's MVP.

Since that day, Eli Manning won another Super Bowl, and Peyton made it back to the big game, too, only to lose in a big way. Now, it is uncertain whether Peyton will come back for another season. They say he will announce his plans by the end of this month.

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