MIAMI -- The New Orleans Saints have completed their mission with the first Super Bowl championship in the NFL franchise's often star-crossed 43-year history, beating the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 on Sunday night at Sun Life Stadium.
The only thing that got crossed this time, however, was when Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and his standout receiver, Reggie Wayne, got crossed up on a fourth-quarter pass play, when the Saints' Tracy Porter made the play of the game in Super Bowl XLIV.
Porter, a second-year cornerback from Indiana who grew up in Port Allen, La., made a break to the ball on a quick slant pattern, making the interception and scoring on a 74-yard return to put the Saints in front 31-17 with 3:12 left.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees completed 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns. He was named the Super Bowl MVP as the Saints celebrated on the field and television coverage showed a wild scene on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter.
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Saints defensive linemen Jeff Charleston and Bobby McCray gave Sean Payton, the Saints' fourth-year coach, the Gatorade bucket treatment in the game's final seconds.
The Saints trailed 17-16 when Brees took his team downfield for the go-ahead touchdown with 5:42 left, firing a 2-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey.
The Saints extended their lead to seven points when Lance Moore came up with a circus catch for the 2-point conversion, although it wasn't counted until replays confirmed he's made the play.
The Saints finish their unprecedented season with a 16-3 record, the same as the Colts.
On this night, however, the Saints were clearly the better team, a team that responded when it counted.
See sunherald.com for updates on Super Bowl XLIV and the Saints. Complete coverage will be in Tuesday's editions.