- Mike Triplett, ESPN Staff Writer
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@MikeTriplett Gleason's block washed away a bad year; Ambush washed away a spotty half; Porter's pick washed away DECADES of misery.
— Charles (@Ugarles) June 10, 2014
This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in New Orleans Saints history. The others are Steve Gleason's blocked punt on the night the Superdome reopened following Hurricane Katrina and the “Ambush” onside kick to start the second half of Super Bowl XLIV. Please vote for your choice as the Saints' most memorable play.
Score: Saints 31, Colts 17
Date: Feb. 7, 2010 Site: Sun Life Stadium
While dissecting the candidates for the most memorable play in Saints history, some people suggested that Tracy Porter's game-clinching 74-yard interception return for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLIV wasn't as crucial as some others during that playoff run because the Saints would have won the game anyway.
And maybe that's true. The Saints were already leading the Indianapolis Colts 24-17, with 3:24 remaining and the Colts facing a third-and-5 on New Orleans' 31-yard line.
But it sure didn't feel like the game was anywhere close to being clinched at the time -- not with the ball in the hands of one of the NFL's all-time greatest quarterbacks, Peyton Manning.
What made Porter's pick even more remarkable was the fact he beat Manning at his own game -- winning a battle of wits based on countless hours of film study. Porter aggressively jumped in front of receiver Reggie Wayne to steal the ball after instantly recognizing the play when he saw fellow receiver Austin Collie going into motion. Porter said the Saints' coaching staff had prepared them all week for a certain play the Colts liked to run in that situation, and when it happened, it looked just like he was watching it on film.
Porter then sprinted untouched 74 yards for the touchdown, needing only one key block from defensive end Will Smith against Manning to clear his path. And the reaction from the Who Dat Nation everywhere from Sun Life Stadium to bars on Bourbon Street to living rooms throughout the Gulf South was unforgettable. It's the only moment in Saints history that can truly be described as a Super Bowl-winning play.
To strengthen Porter's case, he also played the role of game-clinching hero two weeks earlier when he intercepted a Brett Favre pass to force overtime in the NFC Championship Game after the Minnesota Vikings had entered scoring territory. In fact, some of the people suggesting Porter's Super Bowl pick shouldn't be the No. 1 play in Saints history were trying to argue for Porter's other all-time great clutch moment instead.