"Who Dat?" Not Peyton in Super Bowl XLIV
Manning and the Colts lose to Saints, 31-17
Peyton Manning went 31-for-45 for one touchdown and one interceptions against the Saints. (Getty Images / February 7, 2010)
New Orleans Saints fans did not get their chant answered in Super Bowl XLIV. And that's just fine by them.
In 2006, the "Who Dat Nation" was coined following a New Orleans Saints win over the Dallas Cowboys. The "Who Dat?" cheer, however, dates back much further and it was officially adopted by the New Orleans Saints franchise in 1983.
In Super Bowl XLIV, the Indianapolis Colts thought they had an answer for both the New Orleans defense and the "Who Dat Nation" in the name of Peyton Manning.
Manning was born in the city of New Orleans on March 24, 1976, and would play his high school football at Isidore Newman School, which is located less than 5-miles from 1903 Jefferson Avenue (the street address for the Louisiana Superdome and home of the New Orleans Saints since 1975). At quarterback, he would lead Newman to a 34-5 record while being named the Gatorade Circle of Champions National Player of the Year, New Orleans Quarterback Club Player of the Year and to numerous other honors.
However, the native son of New Orleans could not stop the Saints from fulfilling their destiny in Super Bowl XLIV. Peyton Manning finished with 31 completions on 45 attempts for 388 yards with one touchdown and an interception.
"Hey, I give the Saints a lot of credit," said Manning following the loss. "They deserved to win today."
Manning's biggest mistake was a fourth quarter interception that was returned for a touchdown by a former Indiana Hoosier, Tracy Porter.
Trailing the Saints by a touchdown and driving with 3:24 to play, the Colts faced a 3rd down and 5 from the New Orleans 31-yard line. With the Saints defense blitzing, Porter stepped in front of a Peyton Manning pass intended for Reggie Wayne and, with only Manning to beat, raced 74-yards to give the Saints a 31-17 lead.
"It was great film study," Porter said of his interception. "We knew that on third-and-short they stack, and they like the outside release for the slant."
"Porter made a heck of a play," added Manning.
The "Who Dat?" chant had always been received by others as a rhetorical question. After all, over 43 years the franchise has a .421 winning percentage (below .500 since the team made the chant official in 1983) and this was the first time in their existence that the Saints have made the Super Bowl.
But this season was different. The New Orleans Saints rode the league's number-one offense to a 13-0 start and, with the top-seed for the conference playoffs, they beat the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings to earn a berth in Super Bowl XLIV. The Saints has Drew Brees at quarterback who threw for more touchdowns than Peyton Manning, or anyone else in the NFL, in 2009.
Still, coming off an NFL record fourth MVP season in 2009, many thought this would be Peyton Manning's night. Instead, this Super Bowl turned out to be a special one for the Saints quarterback. Drew Brees' 32 completions tied a Super Bowl record and, along with 288 yards and 2 touchdowns, Brees was named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XLIV.
"He was outstanding, consistent and he's just a winner everywhere he's been," Saints head coach Sean Payton praised his quarterback after the win. "He's won it. He's won it for us."
On this day, as the adopted son of the city of New Orleans, Brees credited the region that was near ruins less than 5 years ago for the Saints super season, "We're here because of their strength and everything they fought through here the last few years. They've given us so much support, and so we owe it all to our fans."
Last month the phrase, "Who Dat", became the center of controversy when the NFL sent cease and desist orders to vendors in New Orleans over its usage on merchandise. The league eventually backed-off during Super Bowl XLIV week admitting they didn't own the exclusivity over the trademark.
On Sunday night at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, there was no controversy and only a single question still left answered.
"Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?"
Not Peyton Manning or the Indianapolis Colts, at least on this night.