While this has obviously been the most successful season in New Orleans Saints history, many of us have different views about the great moments in that season. We remember starting 13-0, the Monday Night Football game against the New England Patriots and the ultimate victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. But if you had to narrow down the greatest plays of the entire season to only ten, what would they be? Here are mine.
10) Drew Brees Does It All. We’ve seen enough examples of Brees slicing through opposing defenses through the air and it’s hard to believe that Brees could have done anything more to build his legend. What he did in Week 7 against the Miami Dolphins at Landshark Stadium (now Sun Life Stadium) built on that legend. With the first half coming to a close, the Saints were trailing 24-3. Rather than playing it safe and kicking a field goal, the Saints went for the touchdown. Drew Brees took the ball in himself to cap off the drive. The Saints would eventually win 46-34 and improve to 7-0.
9) Darren Sharper Goes the Distance. With the season still young and the Saints playing at home against the 3-0 New York Jets, the Saints clung to a 3-0 lead as the Jets were driving towards the end zone. However, the Jets failed to capitalize in epic fashion. Darren Sharper intercepted a pass from Mark Sanchez that he returned 99 yards for a touchdown. The Saints would defeat the Jets 24-10 and improve to 4-0.
8) Hargrove the Panther Slayer. The 2009 season was a season of firsts for the New Orleans Saints. One of those firsts was dealing former Saints quarterback Jake Delhomme his first loss in the Louisiana Superdome. With the Saints clinging to a three point lead, Anthony Hargrove sealed the deal by forcing DeAngelo Williams to fumble, which he recovered for a 1-yard touchdown. The Saints won 30-20 and improved to 8-0.
7) Brees Connects to Henderson. If the Saints emerge as a dynasty, perhaps the Monday Night Football game on November 30, 2009 could be seen as a symbolic passing of the torch from New England to New Orleans. Drew Brees had the best game of his career, posting a perfect passer rating. No pass in that game was more memorable than the one he made to Devery Henderson in the second quarter. With a 10-7 lead, Brees connected with a wide open Henderson for a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the drive. The Saints won 38-17 and improved to 11-0.
6) The Miracle in Landover. Coming off the impressive Monday night victory against the New England Patriots, the Saints played the Washington Redskins at Fed Ex Field. The Saints were down 10-7 in the second quarter and the Saints needed to score. Drew Brees attempted a pass to Jeremy Shockey that was intercepted by Kareem Moore. What started in disaster transformed into a play that will be in highlight reels for years. Robert Meachem stripped the football from Moore and returned it for a 44-yard touchdown. The Saints would eventually win in overtime 33-30.
5) Reggie Brings the Wood. While Reggie Bush impressed with an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in the playoffs, that same game featured an even more impressive play from Bush. Bush extended the Saints lead to 21-7 by executing a 54-yard touchdown run and anyone who watched the play saw the second overall pick could argue that it was one of the best runs of his career.
4) Ambush. The Super Bowl is a stage where legends are made and the history of the contest is filled with dramatic plays as well as moments that will live in infamy. The start of the second half of Super Bowl XLIV was one moment where infamy and legend crossed paths. With the Indianapolis Colts due to receive the ball to start the second half and the Saints trailing 10-6, head coach Sean Payton planned to use the onside kick during halftime. In a gamble that would make Les Miles jealous, Payton’s plan resulted in the Saints recovering the onside kick. It was a massive momentum shift that led to the Saints’ first lead of Super Bowl XLIV.
3) Porter Intercepts Favre. With the game tied 28-28 in the NFC Championship Game, Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings were making an impressive drive down the field. After being penalized for too many men in the huddle, Brett Favre was put in a situation where he would have to pass the ball to make a field goal attempt more manageable. In a day that will go down in infamy for Vikings fans, Favre threw across his body only to be intercepted by Tracy Porter. It would be the final Minnesota possession of the game.
2) The Kick Heard Around the World. The chain of events that unfolded after Tracy Porter’s interception sent the NFC Championship Game into overtime. The Saints won the toss and drove down the field in a series of dramatic plays, setting up a 40-yard field goal attempt for Garrett Hartley. He booted the kick straight through the uprights. Hell had frozen and pigs had flown. The Saints were going to the Super Bowl.
1) Porter Strikes Again. While Minnesota fans will never forget Tracy Porter’s interception near the end of regulation in the NFC Championship Game, Indianapolis fans won’t soon forget another Porter moment. The Saints led 24-17 with about three and a half minutes left in regulation in Super Bowl XLIV. Peyton Manning was putting together a potential game-tying drive with hopes of sending the game into overtime. Tracy Porter dashed those dreams in dramatic fashion. Manning attempted a pass to Reggie Wayne, but Porter jumped the route and intercepted the pass. He returned the ball 74 yards for a touchdown, icing Peyton Manning’s comeback attempt.