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John DeShazier: Garrett Hartley was an unsung hero from Saints Super Bowl win

Posted Feb 4, 2015

Kicker drilled three field goals in game

Before Garrett Hartley came along, no kicker ever had made three 40-plus yard field goals in a Super Bowl. And while his successful kicks from 46, 44 and 47 yards in Super Bowl XLIV didn’t provide the exact margin of victory in the Saints’ 31-17 victory over the Colts, their impact shouldn’t be minimized.

When New Orleans had trouble scoring touchdowns against Indianapolis in Sun Life Stadium, Hartley showed the form that was on display in the NFC championship game against Minnesota, when his 40-yarder in overtime provided the winning points in a 31-28 Saints victory.

The 46-yarder, with 9:34 left in the second quarter, put the Saints on the scoreboard after Indy had taken a 10-0 lead. The second kick, from 44 yards, occurred as time expired in the quarter and pulled New Orleans to within 10-6.

And Hartley’s final field goal, from 47 yards, got the Saints to within 17-16 with 2:01 left in the third quarter.

It was odd to see Hartley called upon so often, simply because the Saints had such a prolific offense. There rarely was much of a need for a long field goal – much less, three of them – because drives so often culminated in touchdowns or bogged down closer to the end zone.

But on that day, when the offense wasn’t clicking as efficiently as usual, Hartley’s accuracy was big, and the Saints’ confidence in the then-23-year-old kicker was crucial.