Super Bowl XLIV
Almost evenly matched during the regular season, the NFC's New Orleans Saints (13-3) and the AFC's Indianapolis Colts (14-2) faced each other for gridiron gold in Super Bowl XLIV. For the first time in 16 years, the game featured the number-one seeds from both conferences, truly making the competition "the best of the best." The Saints, led by quarterback Drew Brees and running back Reggie Bush, had momentum on their side and the pride of the Crescent City on their shoulders, as the squad was first to advance to a Super Bowl in the franchise's 43 years in existence. During the regular season, the Saints' offense led the NFL in scoring, averaging just under 32 points per game, Brees being ranked as one of the game's top rated quarterbacks. The Colts, on the other hand, entered the game with the best record in all of football that season. Led by 10-time Pro Bowler and that season's MVP, Payton Manning, as field general, Indianapolis looked to polish their slight tarnished image after losing the last two games of the year, thus blowing their shot at a perfect 16-0 season.
Super Bowl XLIV was played at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida (for the fifth time) on February 7, 2010. It was also the latest calendar date for a Super Bowl in the game's history. After the Saints failed to score on their first possession, the Colts launched a 53-yard drive that ended with a 38-yard field goal by kick Matt Stover. (The 42-year-old Stover was the oldest NFLer to play in a Super Bowl). On their next possession, Indy embarked upon a 96-yard scoring drive, tying the record for the longest drive in Super Bowl history, and eventually took a 10-0 lead by the end of the 1st quarter. The Saints managed six points in the 2nd quarter, with the game 10-6 (for the first time ever) at halftime. At the start of the second half, in what many fans still consider the turning point of the game, the Saints recovered an onside kick to eventually take the lead. Although the Colts regrouped to make the score to come within one point (17-16) at the end of the 3rd quarter … the first one-point lead after the third quarter in Super Bowl history … New Orleans subsequently scored 15 unanswered points in the 4th quarter for a 31-17 victory—the first in franchise history. Brees, who completed 32 of 39 passes (tying Tom Brady's record from Super Bowl XXXVIII) for 288 yards and two touchdowns, was named the game's MVP.