MIAMI (AP) -- They're celebrating Mardi Gras early in New Orleans.
The underdog New Orleans Saints rallied with 15 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to shock the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 to win Super Bowl 44.
The Saints, a symbol of hope in the rebuilding city of New Orleans, captured their first NFL title on the first trip to the Super Bowl in their 43-year history.
Saints QB Drew Brees controlled the game and was named MVP. Brees completed 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards and two TDs, tying Tom Brady's Super Bowl record for completions. Brees went 7-for-7 on the go-ahead drive that ended with a 2-yard TD pass to tight end Jeremy Shockey with 5:42 left. The Saints gambled for a two-point conversion that worked when Lance Moore made a shoestring catch from Brees that gave the Saints a 24-17 lead. At first the two-point conversion was not ruled a catch, but that was overturned when Saints coach Sean Payton challenged the call.
Holding the Super Bowl trophy, Brees said the Saints victory was "destiny" and added: "We knew we had an entire city and maybe an entire country behind us."
A 74-yard interception touchdown by Tracy Porter with 3:12 left capped the game. Four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning completed 31 of 45 passes for 333 yards with one TD and that one interception.
The Colts outgained the Saints in total yards 434-to-332 and had three more first downs. But after falling behind 10-0 in the first quarter, the Saints regrouped. Garrett Hartley got the Saints on the board with two field goals that cut the lead deficit to 10-6 at halftime. For the game, Hartley kicked three fields, all from at least 40 yards.
Saints coach Sean Payton rolled the dice from the get-go. He gambled on a fourth-and-one in the first half, and lost. But with the Saints due to kick off for the second half, Payton gambled and won. He ordered an onside kick, which the Saints recovered. It's the first onside kick in Super Bowl history that happened before the fourth quarter.
Bolstered by their coach's gutty call, the Saints drove 58 yards in six plays. Brees connected with Pierre Thomas on a 16-yard screen pass for the touchdown that put the Saints ahead 13-10. But the Colts answered with a 10-play, 76-yard drive before the Saints scored 18 unanswered points to shock the pro football world.
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