Saints' top play winner: 'Ambush'

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
10:00
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onside kickMark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports  
Score: Saints 31, Colts 17
Date: Feb. 7, 2010. Site: Sun Life Stadium

Voting for the most memorable play in New Orleans Saints history was, as I expected, a tight race. The three nominees finished within percentage points of one another: The "Ambush" onside kick in Super Bowl XLIV won with 38 percent of the vote, followed by Tracy Porter's Super Bowl interception return (33 percent) and Steve Gleason's blocked punt in the Superdome re-opener after Hurricane Katrina in 2006 (29 percent).

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Which is the most memorable play in Saints' history?

  •  
    38%
  •  
    33%
  •  
    29%

Discuss (Total votes: 34,564)

Personally, I was more partial to Gleason's block. I've never been around a moment that emotional at a sporting event -- or any other event. The symbolic rebirth of New Orleans on a national "Monday Night Football" stage transcended sports. But it was also a huge moment from a sports-specific angle, because it sparked a 3-0 start for the Saints that season on the way to the NFC Championship Game.

Former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita, who was around for all three of the nominated plays, said via Twitter: "Without Gleason's blocked punt, none of the other stuff happens. That moment was much bigger than just football."

I suspect that "Ambush" earned a number of votes from non-Saints fans as well as Who Dat Nation; it was such a memorable play that has since ranked on many lists of the top moments in Super Bowl history. The gutsy surprise play that started the second half also perfectly symbolizes the Saints' personality throughout the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era.

It was the first time a team had ever attempted an onside kick before the fourth quarter in a Super Bowl -- and it paid off big time. The Saints immediately followed with a touchdown, sparking their rally from a 10-6 halftime deficit.

And for those reasons, it probably gives the Saints the best chance to keep moving on in the overall "playoff" that ESPN will kick off next week among the winners from all 32 teams. I'm not sure it can top plays like "The Immaculate Reception," "The Catch" or "The Helmet Catch." But when it comes to unique moments throughout the game's history, "Ambush" certainly belongs in the conversation.

Mike Triplett

ESPN New Orleans Saints reporter

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