MIAMI - Put away those paper bags forever. Drew Brees and the Saints are NFL champions, rallying to beat Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 Sunday night in one of pro football's most thrilling title games.
Brees tied a Super Bowl record with 32 completions, the last a two-yard slant to Jeremy Shockey for the winning points with 5:42 remaining. The Pro Bowl quarterback was chosen Super Bowl MVP.
New Orleans' lowly ranked defence 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 raced 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 two-point conversion catch. The conversion pass originally was ruled incomplete, but Payton challenged the call and won.
Porter's pick, just as dramatic as his interception of Brett Favre's pass to force overtime in the NFC title game, was the game's only turnover. It's one Manning will forever regret.
The Saints (16-3) won three post-season games this winter after winning only two in the previous 42 years. They beat Arizona, Minnesota and Indianapolis (16-3) - all division winners - for their first title, scoring 107 points and allowing only 59.
The championship came 41/2 years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, making the Saints nomads for the 2005 season. There even was some doubt they would return, but the NFL refused to abandon the Big Easy. The Superdome was rebuilt and the Saints won the NFC South in '06, their first season with Brees and Payton.
That was the season Manning won his only Super Bowl. He had the Colts in front for much of this one, but New Orleans' league-leading offence, which scored 510 points this season, outscored Indy 31-7 after falling behind 10-0.