MIAMI (AP) — Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints became Super Bowl champions after rallying to beat Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 on Sunday in one of the NFL's most thrilling title games.
Brees tied a Super Bowl record with 32 completions, the last a 2-yard slant to Jeremy Shockey for the winning points with 5:42 remaining. The Pro Bowl quarterback was chosen Super Bowl most valuable player.
New Orleans' lowly ranked defense made several key stops, an onside kick sparked their second-half comeback, and Tracy Porter's 74-yard interception return on a pass from Manning, of all people, clinched it.
Manning gave chase, but fell awkwardly as the cornerback zipped by. The four-time NFL MVP forlornly walked to the sideline as the Big Easy celebrations began. Who would have thought the biggest mistake of the game would have come from Manning?
An NFL embarrassment for much of their 43 years, the Saints' football renaissance, led by Brees and coach Sean Payton, climaxed with Shockey's touchdown and Lance Moore's 2-point conversion catch — which Payton challenged and won after Moore was ruled down at the 1.
Porter's pick, just as dramatic as his interception of Brett Favre's pass at the end of the NFC title game that forced overtime, was the game's only turnover. It's one Manning will forever regret.
The Saints kicked a field goal, then drove 71 yards to the 1 late in the half. But on third down, Mike Bell was stopped for no gain, and Pierre Thomas had the same result on fourth down.
Gary Brackett hit Thomas first, and Clint Session finished the tackle.
New Orleans rallied to take a brief lead in the third quarter, but Manning and the Colts answered with a 76-yard drive capped by Joseph Addai's 4-yard run.
The Saints risked an onside kick to start the second half, and the gamble paid off when Chris Reis recovered for them at their 42 after the Colts' Hank Baskett failed to come up with the ball.
Six plays later, New Orleans had the lead for the first time. Thomas took a swing pass from Drew Brees, juked past several defenders and dived into the end zone for a 16-yard score, putting the Saints up 13-10.
Manning came right back. He hit Dallas Clark for 27 yards, then Clark again on third down for 11 before Addai scored.
New Orleans' Garrett Hartley kicked field goals of 46, 44 and 47 yards, including one on the final play of the half to leave Indy with a 10-6 lead. It was a lower-scoring game than expected by the NFL's two most potent offenses and two most accurate quarterbacks.
The Colts, bidding for their second Super Bowl title in four years, drove 53 yards for a field goal on their opening possession, while the Saints totaled only one first down in their first two series.
The Colts' first touchdown drive began after a punt pinned the Colts back at their 4. Manning threw from his end zone on the first play for a gain of 11. Addai ran for 16, 11 and 26 yards during the sequence. On third-and-6 at the 19, Manning hit Garcon in stride in the end zone on a simple go route.
In the 11-play drive, 61 yards came on the ground. The TD march matched the longest in Super Bowl history by the Chicago Bears against New England in 1986.
Manning was 17 for 24 for 162 yards after three quarters, and Brees was 25 for 32 for 244. Addai had 79 yards rushing in 10 carries.
All-Pro defensive end Dwight Freeney started for the Colts despite a sprained right ankle that left his status in question all week. His presence gave the defense a boost, and Indy dug in early against the NFL's highest-scoring offense.
New Orleans, playing in the Super Bowl for the first time, was outgained 154-36 in the first quarter while running only 10 plays.
The Saints began to move the ball early in the second period, marching from their 11 to the Colts 22. But Freeney sacked Brees on third down, and Hartley kicked a 46-yard field goal.
The Saints took the opening kickoff, but went three and out. The Colts' first play was an 18-yard completion from Manning to Clark.
Manning hit Austin Collie for 14 yards on third-and-7. But three plays later Manning overthrew Garcon on third down, and Indy settled for Matt Stover's 38-yard field goal.
The 42-year-old Stover became the oldest player ever in a Super Bowl.
Courtney Roby fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, but Reis recovered. New Orleans picked up one first down before punting again.
The Saints came in 15-3, while the Colts were 16-2, with Indy a five-point favorite.
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