New Orleans Saints, Indianapolis Colts square off in Super Bowl XLIV

Michael Tortorich
Super Bowl XLIV

The New Orleans Saints have been locked out of the Super Bowl throughout the team’s 43-year history.

The only way a player for the black and gold could get into the big game is if he had a ticket.

But not this season.

The Saints won’t need tickets this year as they’ve earned a spot on the biggest stage in sports.

New Orleans will face the Indianapolis Colts at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. on Sunday, Feb. 7.

Kickoff is set for 5:25 p.m. The game will be nationally televised on CBS with Jim Nantz handling play-by-play and Phil Simms serving as color analyst. Locally the game will be broadcast on the Saints Radio Network.

Road to the Super Bowl

Both the Saints and the Colts jumped out to extending winning streaks during the regular season.

The Saints started 13-0, easily taking the NFC South. The Dallas Cowboys gave the Saints their first loss, then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers shocked the black and gold with an overtime toppling.

New Orleans dropped the final regular season game to Carolina as most of the starting players stayed on the sideline. Despite a three-game losing streak, the Saints earned the top seed in the NFC.

New Orleans dominated the Arizona Cardinals 45-14 in the Divisional Playoff Game. New Orleans then topped the Minnesota Vikings 31-28 in overtime to claim the NFC title.

The Colts started the season with 14-straight wins, cruising to the top of the AFC South Division.

Already owning the top seed in the AFC, the Colts sat their starters for the final two games.

Indianapolis rolled past the Baltimore Ravens 20-3 in the Divisional Playoff Game, then topped the New York Jets 30-17 in the AFC Championship Game.

Hometown heroes

Both quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have made names for themselves in the NFL.

Manning grew up in New Orleans and went to Newman High School. He is the son of former Saints quarterback Archie Manning, and brother of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. The brothers and their father have hosted football camps in south Louisiana.

Brees has embraced New Orleans throughout his stint with the Saints. The former Purdue standout has been active in charitable causes as the city has recovered from Hurricane Katrina.

Captive audience

The Super Bowl is the most-watched television program of the year. Some of the most well-known commercials have debuted during the big game. Last year, advertising sold for $3 million per 30-second spot. Some 151.6 million viewer tuned in to that game. The advertising rate for this year reportedly has fallen to as low as $2.5 million.

Star power

Legendary rock band The Who will perform at halftime. Carrie Underwood will sing the national anthem.

Super Bowl tidbits

• The Colts played in Baltimore from 1947-50 and 1953-83.

• Every time the Colts have played in the Super Bowl, it has been held in the Miami area.

• This is the second straight year a team has made its Super Bowl debut. Last year the Cardinals made their first appearance.

• The Pittsburgh Steelers have won six Super Bowls, the most by one team. The Dallas Cowboys have made eight appearances in the big game, winning five.

• Four current teams have never earned spots to the Super Bowl: Detroit, Houston, Cleveland and Jacksonville.

• The Vince Lombardi Trophy, named for the legendary Green Bay Packers coach, is given to the winning team. It costs $25,000.

• Each player on the winning team receives $83,000, plus a $5,000 ring. The losers get $42,000, and a cheaper ring.