Sports

Commentary: St. Brees delivers grace

Story continues below videoFrom The Miami Herald

FROM BOURBON STREET to the Alligator Bayou, let them cheer. From the Tchoupitoulas Street to the Garden District, let them celebrate. From the edges of the 9th Ward to the heart of Desire, let them shout out his name.

For a hundred years to come, Drew Brees is the King of New Orleans.

They will name streets for him. There will be long, potent drinks called the Cool Brees shoved into the hands of tourists, and his face will be all over those fake coins they toss around at Mardi Gras.

He is St. Drew.

Brees wrote his name all over New Orleans lore Sunday night. He brought his team from behind against the favored Colts. And after 43 years of a franchise wandering around the bayou, he delivered a Lombardi Trophy to a city that hasn't smiled nearly enough in recent years.

"We played for so much more than ourselves," Brees said. "We played for our city, for our Gulf Coast region, for the entire Who Dat Nation. This championship is for you, New Orleans."

He was almost flawless, Brees, carving up the Colts so easily you wondered if Indianapolis was playing enough defensive backs. The Saints won 31-17 after spotting the Colts a 10-0 lead.

Overall, Brees hit 32-of-39 for 288 yards.

Ah, but for the final three quarters, Brees was almost perfect. He hit 29 of 32 passes for 261 yards, and from the second quarter on, the Saints outscored Indianapolis 31-7. For a guy who was supposed to be the "other" quarterback in this game, Brees stole the show. He kept his team moving, and he kept the Colts on the sideline.

This was supposed to be Manning's night, remember? This was supposed to be the night the conversation began on whether Manning was, as some were ready to argue, the best quarterback ever to play, better than Montana and better than Brady.

It was Brees who led the winning drive. The nail-in-the-coffin interception was thrown by Manning. It was as if Brees let Manning toy with the idea of winning a second championship then snatched it out of his hands.

Consider Brees on the Saints' scoring drive. He was 4-of-4 on the Saints' first field goal drive (stopped by a sack). He was 3-of-4 leading to the second field goal. He was 5-of-5 on the touchdown drive that led to a 13-10 Saints lead. He was 4-of-5 on another field goal drive. He was 7-of-7 on the Saints' go-ahead drive (plus another completion on the two-point conversation).

"Magnificent," is the way New Orleans coach Sean Payton described it.

It was four seasons ago that doctors (and NFL general managers) doubted Brees would play again. Only New Orleans and Miami were interested, and Miami dropped out after deciding to go with Daunte Culpepper.

That left New Orleans, a franchise that has botched a great many positions in its wayward past, but none worse than quarterback. Throughout their history, the Saints have sorted through over-the-hill and under-the-standard quarterbacks such as Ken Stabler and Richard Todd and Jim Everett and Wade Wilson and Heath Shuler .

Considering how good Brees was Sunday night, the Louisiana Purchase is now the second-best deal the state ever made.

"Four years ago, who ever thought this would be happening," Brees said. "Eighty-five percent of the city was under water. All of its residents had evacuated to places across the country. No know knew if New Orleans would ever come back, or if the organization and the team would come back. So many players came in that year, and we said, 'We're going to rebuild together. We're going to lean on each other.'

"This is the culmination of all that belief and faith."

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