Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Inspirational, high-powered Saints will win it for New Orleans

Article by: Christian Petruzzi

Photo property of dbking/WikiCommons

New Orleans Saints and the Super Bowl. Never thought you’d see those words in the same sentence, right? Well believe it, because even as I’m writing this, a huge party is going on in the city that just five years ago was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

The Saints are a feel-good story in a league of superstars and huge contracts. The team has given the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana something to cheer for. Unlike Boston, where having four pro sports teams spoils us, in New Orleans it’s the Saints or nothing.

After starting the season 13-0, the best start by any NFC team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, the Saints looked like the team to beat. But in what has become known as typical Saints’ fashion, the team was first stunned by the Dallas Cowboys to ruin their chances for a perfect season and then endured two more losses at the hands of two divisional rivals, the Carolina Panthers and the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Despite the late season struggles, the Saints still managed to clinch the NFC’s number-one seed and a first round playoff bye. With many people counting them out after losing their final three games, the Saints completely obliterated the defending NFC champion Arizona Cardinals by a score of 45-14. With the win, the Saints advanced to their second NFC Championship game in team history, the first appearance in the 2006 season which ended in a loss to the Chicago Bears.

This time, the game would be played in the Louisiana Superdome and the opponent would be the seemingly everlasting Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings.

The game itself really was a microcosm of Favre’s career. He shined early, struggled at times, but never gave up. With the game tied late in the fourth quarter, facing a third down from the Saints 38 yard line and with a long field goal attempt likely coming on the next play, Favre decided against taking a clear running lane to pick up a few yards, and instead threw across the field into triple coverage and was intercepted.

The game went to overtime, New Orleans won the coin toss and the Viking offense and Favre never saw the field again. New Orleans place kicker Garrett Hartley split the uprights with his 40-yard field goal, and after 43 years of struggling on the field and facing adversity off of it, including a possible move out of New Orleans, the Saints were finally going to the Super Bowl.

Next up for the Saints are Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts. Notice I put Manning before the Colts. Aren’t you just sick of hearing how great Manning is? There is no denying he is one of the top quarterbacks not only in the league today but in its history, but I’ve never seen one player throw a pass, catch the pass, kick the field goals and intercept a pass all in one game. The point is a team is made up of 53 players, each with a defined role. The biggest reason to root for the Saints on Super Bowl Sunday is that they have their share of great players, but they are a team.

So why will the Saints beat the Colts? Simply put, they are a better team. They are the number-one ranked offense, scoring a league high 31.9 points per game. They feature the fourth-ranked passing game, having aired it out for more than 4,355 yards, and the number-six ranked rushing attack with 2,106 yards.

On defense, the Saints allowed 21.3 points per game and featured a strong pass rush led by Will Smith, who had 13 sacks, and a solid secondary anchored by safety Darren Sharper, who intercepted 9 passes in the regular season. The Saints’ defense will be able to minimize the damage that the Colts’ offense can inflict, force a few turnovers and add to their eight defensive touchdowns on the year.

On offense, the talk for much of Super Bowl week will be whether or not the Saints’ offensive line can stop the Colts’ Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, two of the league’s premier pass rushers. In the NFC Championship game, against the team that led the league with 48 sacks, the Saints’ offensive line kept quarterback Drew Brees upright and didn’t surrender a sack.

On offense, the Saints will to control the clock with their running game and will be able to force a few Colts’ turnovers on defense.

In two weeks, Bourbon Street will be having an early Mardi Gras party. The Saints will march back from Miami with the team’s, New Orleans’ and Louisiana’s first pro sports championship.

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Inspirational, high-powered Saints will win it for New Orleans