New Orleans, Indianapolis To Meet In Super Bowl

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The New Orleans Saints will make their first appearance in a Super Bowl. They will be playing the Indianapolis Colts — a franchise that has been to three previous Super Bowls. To get to next month's big game in Miami, the Saints beat the Minnesota Vikings in overtime Sunday 31-28. The Colts won over the New York Jets 30-17.

ARI SHAPIRO, host:

Lets hear more about the Super Bowl now. Last night, the New Orleans Saints earned their first-ever ticket to the game. Theyll be playing the Indianapolis Colts, a franchise thats been to three previous Super Bowls. NPRs Mike Pesca joins me now to discuss this.

And good morning, Mike.

MIKE PESCA: How are you doing?

SHAPIRO: Good. So I was asleep, but I understand it was a thrilling overtime game last night when the Saints advanced against Minnesota. Tell us about what happened.

PESCA: You mean the raucous Superdome crowd did not wake you from 1,000 miles away? Thats how good a game it was. And let me, oh, Im not going to say correct you, but point out the Indianapolis Colts are going to their second Super Bowl. They were in Baltimore when they lost a couple of Super Bowls.

SHAPIRO: Right.

PESCA: So here we take it to New Orleans, and this was a game with a lot of offense and a lot of turnovers. Brett Favre, the Vikings quarterback, was - he passed for over 300 yards, but he also had a couple of interceptions. And Adrian Peterson, the Vikings running back was just - he was fantastic. He ran for over 100 yards. He has this, you know, the cliche is he runs through the lawn like he's shot out of a cannon. He just crackles.

But New Orleans had a great offense, too. And the scoring was such that no team ever got more than a touchdown lead. The game finally went into overtime, where Garrett Hartley hit a 40-yard field goal, sending the Saints to the Super Bowl. And it was Minnesotas five turnovers that they just couldnt overcome. You wouldnt think a team could overcome that. They didn't. Not even Brett Favre could.

SHAPIRO: Well, and what about the other game where the Indianapolis Colts advanced against the New York Jets?

PESCA: This was supposed to be maybe a blowout. I mean, everyone went into it thinking that Peyton Manning, the Colts quarterback, had the edge on the Jets. But I have to say, the Jets, who barely qualified for the playoffs, they dialed up a lot of blitzes.

And in the beginning they were confusing Peyton Manning, as much as such a smart player like Manning can be confused. And the Jets had a halftime lead. But Manning has this effect. Its not like a cliffhanger. Hes not like Indiana Jones, where you say, hows Indy going to get out of this one?

SHAPIRO: Uh-huh.

PESCA: Even when hes behind, you're so certain that he can make a comeback, and thats exactly what he did. The Colts scored on the last possession of the first half. They scored on their first possession in the second half and they put the Jets away behind the reigning NFL MVP and just a quarterback that makes every football person marvel at how good and calm he is.

SHAPIRO: Well, when these two teams meet up in Miami on February 7, who do you think is the favorite to win?

PESCA: Well, don't ask me. Ask the odds makers in Las Vegas who say that the Colts are about a four or five point favorite, and heres why. The Colts have cruised. They didn't really - they werent challenged. Theyve won by big scores in the playoffs. They maybe couldve gone undefeated in the regular season. The only losses they had were when they started resting their starters once they had clinched home field advantage in the playoffs.

But I would point this out. That in the playoffs the two teams the Colts have played - the Ravens and the Jets - who they blew out or they beat handily, those two teams do not have very good offenses.

And the New Orleans Saints have a great offense, a great quarterback - I havent mentioned Drew Brees yet. Hes the Saints quarterback. Hes excellent. Their coach, Sean Payton, is a genius. Theyll get a lot of guys open. So it really promises, I think, to be a very good Super Bowl.

SHAPIRO: Okay. Well, in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, what do you think are the main storylines that the media is going to be covering in the story?

PESCA: Well, everyone is going to get behind the Saints in the city of New Orleans, how that city loves the team; how it frankly is a line item in the state budget that they give money to the Saints to keep them in New Orleans.

But the big thing is that Peyton Mannings dad, Archie Manning, probably the greatest Saint of all-time, the first Saint inducted into their hall of fame, so he has a big of a split allegiance. His son is quarterbacking one team, but he was the longtime quarterback of the New Orleans Saints. That will not go unobserved over the next two weeks.

SHAPIRO: All right. Thanks a lot, Mike.

PESCA: You got it.

SHAPIRO: NPRs Mike Pesca.

(Soundbite of music)

SHAPIRO: This is NPR News.

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