Manning key to Colts’ success
AP Football Writer
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Fans of offense, rejoice!
The New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts figure to pile on the points in Sunday’s Super Bowl.
The Saints scored a league-high 510 points and ranked first in total offense. The Colts scored 416 and ranked ninth.
New Orleans (15-3) has the game’s most accurate quarterback, Drew Brees, throwing to a deep receiving corps led by 1,000-yard wideout Marques Colston. He has three dependable running backs, including the mercurial Reggie Bush. Both his tight ends, Jeremy Shockey and David Thomas, find holes in the middle of defenses and move the chains.
Indianapolis (16-2) offers Peyton Manning, the only four-time MVP, throwing to a deep group of targets led by two 1,000-yard receivers: Reggie Wayne and TE Dallas Clark.
And while the Colts’ D has been stingy in the playoffs and the Saints force lots of turnovers, this could be a matchup that wears out the scoreboard at Sun Life Stadium.
Indy, winner of the last Super Bowl here three years ago, is a 5-point favorite.
“We have to be balanced and mix the run and the pass,” Brees said. “We have to have a plan for their pass rush, because we know how they can rush the passer. Take care of the football, try to keep Peyton and that offense off the field as much as possible and take advantage of the opportunities when we get them.
“You can’t be one-dimensional against these guys, because they are too smart for that. You have to be able to do both. If you can do it efficiently, possess the ball, convert third downs, keep them off the field, eat up the time of possession – all of those things that you talk about as an offense, that’s the key for success.”
Except that’s not necessarily what the Saints do best. They are not a grind-it-out team. New Orleans had explosive plays this season from 75, 68, 66, 55, 54, 41, 37 and 36 yards. The Saints ranked sixth in yards rushing in 2009, but they went 15-3 because of their passing prowess.
New Orleans allowed just 20 sacks during the season, but that’s seven more than Indy’s QBs made. With DE Dwight Freeney, the Colts’ primary pass rusher, ailing with ankle ligament damage, it could present Brees more opportunities to throw.
The matchups of Colts DBs Antoine Bethea, Melvin Bullitt, Kelvin Hayden, Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey against Colston, Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson, Shockey, Thomas, Bush and Pierre Thomas will be intriguing.
Still, the key to the game will be Manning against a vulnerable New Orleans defense. And that’s the difference.