No. 1 offense can lift Saints past Colts

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints’ top-ranked offense will

be like nothing the Indianapolis Colts have faced in these


Meanwhile, the Saints’ big-play defense has demonstrated a

penchant for making clutch stops and producing game-changing

turnovers all season long. Just ask Brett Favre.

The Peyton Manning-led Colts are five-point favorites in

Sunday’s Super Bowl. Yet the Saints have shown – during a 13-3

regular season and a pair of playoff wins over teams with great

quarterbacks – that they have what it takes to bring New Orleans

its first NFL championship on Sunday night.

“We’re playing and expecting to win,” tight end Jeremy Shockey

said this week. “It would be great for the city.”

Indeed, it’s about more than matchups and statistics. Football

is an emotional game, and the Saints are motivated by the higher

calling of bringing happiness to a fan base that has seen a lot of

losing in the previous 42 years and a lot of suffering since

Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The difference this year is that New Orleans has the talent on

both sides of the ball to make its emotional edge matter.

The Saints passed for 272.2 yards per game – the fourth-highest

average in the league – and did so without relying on a particular

receiver. Marques Colston led the Saints with 1,074 yards receiving

and nine TD catches, but the 6-foot-4 target doesn’t have to have a

big game for New Orleans to win. Deep threats Devery Henderson and

Robert Meachem can strike without warning.

If star tight end Jeremy Shockey is covered, Brees won’t

hesitate to throw to tight end David Thomas.

Lance Moore, the Saints’ leading receiver last season, can give

defenses fits in the slot.

“I love my receiving corps. As a group, they are the best in

the league,” Brees said. “Each one of them has some very unique


Reggie Bush had 47 catches during the regular season and didn’t

just grab short tosses coming out of the back field. He’ll line up

in the slot or out wide.

Pierre Thomas can turn a screen pass into a big play as well as

anyone. Exhibit A would be his slashing 38-yard touchdown against

Minnesota in the NFC title game.

The Colts faced two of the NFL’s youngest and least experienced

quarterbacks in their previous two postseason wins.

Baltimore’s Joe Flacco and the New York Jets’ Mark Sanchez don’t

posses the experience or resume of Brees, who has thrown for more

yards than any NFL quarterback during the past four seasons.

Although Brees’ passing total dropped from 5,069 yards to 4,388

this season, it wasn’t because he got worse. The Saints’ running

game got better – sixth in the NFL with 131.6 yards per game –

allowing them to resort to a clock-killing ground game after they’d

piled up double-digit leads.

Including the playoffs, 10 of the Saints’ 15 wins have come by

double digits. That may seem odd for a team with a defense that

ranked 25th in the league in yards allowed, but that same defense

has a knack for making critical stops deep and forcing turnovers.

The Saints have seven takeaways in their two playoff wins so


Even if Manning avoids interceptions, receivers and running

backs must hold onto the ball. Saints defenders hit hard and rip at

balls like bullies on a playground.

“All my life I’ve been trying to speed players up, toughen

players up, nasty players up,” defensive coordinator Gregg

Williams said.

It shows. His defense doesn’t mind risking a 15-yard roughing

penalty in the pursuit of rattling a quarterback’s bones, as

Anthony Hargrove did two weeks ago when he picked up Favre and

drove him into the turf.

Manning doesn’t get sacked often. It doesn’t mean he won’t get


The Saints can find a way to slow him enough to let Brees and

the offense score the most – and bring the Lombardi Trophy to the

Big Easy.