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The five plays that changed Super Bowl XLIV

Senior writer John DeShazier picks his five biggest plays from Super Bowl XLIV

Of the many plays that were critical in the New Orleans Saints' 31-17 victory over Indianapolis in Super Bowl XLIV, here are five that stood out, and why:

  1. "Ambush." Enough said.
  1. Jonathan Vilma's tackle of Joseph Addai for a 3-yard loss in the second quarter. The Colts were facing second-and-1 after Addai's 9-yard run on first down, and Vilma's tackle behind the line of scrimmage (the first tackle for loss by the Saints defense) put Indy in a third-and-4 scenario. Indy had been 4-for-5 on its previous third-down attempts but when Peyton Manning threw incomplete on third down, it was the first time New Orleans manufactured a defensive stop and forced a punt.
  1. Pierre Thomas' run for no gain on fourth-and-goal from the Colts' 1-yard line with 1:49 left in the second quarter. Yep, a no-gain, turn-over-the-ball-on-downs play. Because it showed that the Saints were going to be aggressive and daring. "Ambush," the definition of aggressive and daring, was the opening play of the second half. But this fourth-down attempt said that the Saints weren't going to wait for the Colts to give them anything. A footnote: The Saints forced a three-and-out by Indy, took possession with 35 seconds left in the half and drove 26 yards to close out the half on Garrett Hartley's 44-yard field goal.
  1. Drew Brees' 16-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Thomas in the third quarter. "Ambush" really wouldn't have been much of a success if the Saints hadn't finished off the gamble with a touchdown drive. Thomas did a good bit of the work, taking a short pass from Brees, juking and shaking off a couple of defenders while he wove back toward the middle of the field, and diving into the end zone for the Saints' first touchdown.
  1. Tracy Porter's 74-yard interception return for a touchdown with 3:12 left. The Colts trailed just 24-17 and had driven to the Saints' 31-yard line in six plays, using a no-huddle offense. On third-and-5, Porter jumped the route on a pass intended for Reggie Wayne, picked off Manning at the Saints' 26, directed traffic as he sprinted toward midfield and crossed the goal line to the roaring approval of Saints fans in attendance.

Associated Press photos of the New Orleans Saints onside kick in Super Bowl XLIV.

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