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51 for LI: Super Bowl XLIV, The Ain’ts No More

[lead align=”default”]There are 44 days left until this season’s Super Bowl, and when it comes to meaningful games, Super Bowl XLIV had that meaning.[/lead]

Every Super Bowl means something, as it’s the game that crowns a league champion. Rarely, however, has there been a game that a city or franchise needed rather than just wanted. Such was the case in this game which pitted the New Orleans Saints against the Indianapolis Colts.

Two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks met in this game: Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. Each played for the best team in their respective conference. Ultimately, the best team may have won.

Super Bowl XLIV: How They Got There

Both the Saints and Colts competed for something before they encountered one another in the Super Bowl. Both tried to do what only the New England Patriots did before them: go 16-0 in the regular season.

The Saints made it to 13-0 and the Colts to 14-0 before each team took their first loss. In fact, they’d both lose out in the regular season. New Orleans was the gutsy team that wanted to push hard and go for it, and even though they failed, they get some credit, As one would remember, the Colts’ thing in those days was to win a lot, wrap everything up, and rest everyone late in the year. This all but assured they wouldn’t win out, but it didn’t matter in terms of making the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XLIV: The Game

Indy jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first, featuring a Matt Stover field goal and a Peyton Manning touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon. The Saints climbed back into it before the half on a pair of field goals, then taking the lead early in the third. Who can forget the onside kick by New Orleans to open the second half, a ballsy call that set the tone.

The lead flipped twice from then on, with the Colts getting back on top and holding that lead until the fourth quarter. With 5:42 left in the game, New Orleans took a 24-17 lead on a touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey plus a two-point conversion. A pick six a few minutes later sealed the win for the Saints, who took their only Super Bowl title.

Super Bowl XLIV: Healing A Broken City

Less than five years earlier, the City of New Orleans went through one of the toughest times in its history. Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, and Louisiana bore the brunt of it. The population of the city dropped dramatically after the storm, and the aftermath of the death and destruction were felt for years.

There are lots of things one can say of New Orleans. Prior to the 2009 season, “a city of champions” was not one of them. They needed something to bring them together and help them forget their troubles.

What Drew Brees, Sean Payton, and the rest did for the city that season lifted up everyone. For once, the “Ain’ts” weren’t the “Ain’ts:” they were winners. So was all of New Orleans.

Super Bowl XLIV: Highlights

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