Aints no more: The New Orleans Saints have vaulted to the top of the NFL world, beating the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 to win Super Bowl XLIV.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees outgunned the son of the first family of the Crescent City, Peyton Manning, to lead the Saints to their first championship in the franchise's initial Super Bowl appearance in its 43-year history. The team's win coincided with the rise of the city of New Orleans in the wake of the devastation Hurricane Katrina wrought on the Big Easy in 2005.
Trailing 10-0 after a pair of three and outs in the first quarter, the Who Dat nation had to be concerned as Manning, who grabbed a record fourth regular-season MVP this season, was having his way with the New Orleans' defense.
But Drew, who set the NFL's all-time single-seaosn completion ratio with a 70.6% completion mark in the 2009 campaign, rallied coach Sean Peyton's troops, connecting on 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a two-yarder to former New York Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey with 5:46 left to put the Saints ahead to stay.
Louisiana native Tracy Porter, the cornerback whose interception in the waning moments of regulation in the National Football Conference championship against Minnesota Vikings' Brett Favre saved New Orleans' season, made sure the party on Bourbon Street would last until Mardi Gras with a 74-yard pick for a TD against Manning with 3:24 remaining that pushed the score to 31-17 and clinched the club's first crown.
Now it's left for Nielsen to tally the viewer count, and discern whether CBS's coverage of Super Bowl XLIV will supplant the 98.7 million who watched the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Arizona Cardinals in the last minute a year ago on NBC as the most-watched NFL championship game. Or perhaps even break the 100 million mark.
The Nielsen count will come Monday.
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