They began the season undefeated, then swapped dreams of a perfect season for ensuring that their top players would be in peak condition for the post-season, and thus ended the regular season on losing streaks. They were the top seeds of their respective conferences, and answered all the critics' questions in resuming their winning ways. The final questions remained in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. Would the Indianapolis Colts win their 2nd NFL title in 4 years? Or would the New Orleans Saints, in their first Super Bowl ever, bring home the prize, not only for themselves, but for their city, still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Katrina nearly 4 1/2 years ago?
New Orleans won the opening coin toss, and promptly went 3-and-out on their first series. Colts QB Peyton Manning took Indianapolis down the field and hit rookie receiver Pierre Garcon for a touchdown to put the Colts up, 7-0. A field goal by Matt Stover extended the lead to 10-0 after the first quarter.
New Orleans controlled the ball for virtually all of the second quarter, and chipped away, with 2 Garrett Hartley field goals trimming the deficit to 10-6 at the half. The longer halftime period, though, would be a turning point. As The Who entertained the crowd at Sun Life Stadium, Saints coach Sean Payton laid out a game plan for the second half. New Orleans caught the Colts flat-footed with an onside kick to start the 3rd quarter, and the Saints recovered. QB Drew Brees put the Saints up for the first time with a scoring pass to Pierre Thomas, and New Orleans was now up, 13-10. Back came the Colts, who retook the lead on a TD run by Joseph Addai. It was now 17-13. Hartley's 3rd field goal brought New Orleans within 1, 17-16, but momentum was still on the side of the Saints.
Thomas scored his 2nd TD, putting the Saints in the lead for good. A 2 point conversion catch by Lance Moore was initially ruled incomplete, but was overturned by replay on the only challenge of the game. Manning brought the Colts back again, but New Orleans safety Tracy Porter iced the game with a 74 yard interception return, putting the final score at 31-17. Manning made one last rally, but a costly offensive pass interference penalty on Garcon, for all intents and purposes, finished the Colts. A 4th down pass to Reggie Wayne went through the reciever's hands, and New Orleans began celebrating. Brees, the game MVP, took a knee, and the clock ran out.
As great as this game was, people will spend more time analyzing all the commercials. I simply sat there and shook my head at some of these. Advertisers are spending millions of dollars to fill time with ads that either inform (Focus on the Family), entertain (Cars.com, Snickers), or celebrate stupidity (Bud Light). CBS took the opportunity to toot its own horn, and even invited Jay Leno & Oprah Winfrey to do a spot with David Letterman (fittingly attired in a replica Colts jersey). They also did a bit to plug tonight's episode of How I Met Your Mother by having one of the show's central characters, Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) "at the game" (in a pre-taped bit with commentary by game announcer Jim Nantz) with a classified ad on a poster. Lame-o!
Snickers provided one of the silliest, but most entertaining bits, using TV icons Betty White (ex-The Golden Girls) and Abe Vigoda (ex-Barney Miller) in a pickup football game, though there will be some who might find fault with the context of the ad. I admit I didn't see all the ads, nor did I really care to keep track, as much of it is filed under "wasteful spending". For me, the game's the thing, not the sideshow (not including halftime). And that's the way it should be.
Edit: 2/22/15: Here's that Snickers ad: