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Monday, February 8, 2010
Stats & Info breaks down SB XLIV

By Paul Kuharsky

MIAMI -- In many ways the Saints beat the Colts at their own game Sunday in Super Bowl XLIV. Here’s some of ESPN Stats & Information’s great breakdown:

Under 10: Drew Brees masterfully took what Indianapolis gave him. On passes of 10 yards in the air or fewer, he hit on 28 of 32 attempts for 219 yards, both of his touchdowns and a 116 passer rating. And that included one drop and one spike.

Battle of the checkdowns: On passes of 5 yards or fewer, Brees beat Peyton Manning. Brees was 22-of-25, 6.9 per attempt, two TDs, no INTs and a 122.2 passer rating; Manning was 18-of-24, 5.2, zero TDs, one pick and a 68.8 passer rating.

Joseph Addai
Joseph Addai was not as involved in the offense in the second half of Sunday's game.
Nickel after half: The Saints played five or more defensive backs for 13 plays in the first half and yielded 90 yards (6.9 a play). They were in nickel or dime for all 37 plays in the second half and gave up 188 (5.1 a play).

Disconnected: Manning and Reggie Wayne had a great postseason run. Manning completed 68.8 percent of his passes to Wayne, with a touchdown and a 110.9 passer rating. But that success ended against New Orleans. Manning hit on just 45.5 percent of his throws to Wayne, with 4.2 yards per attempt, an interception, a drop and a 19.5 rating. To everyone else he was 76.5 percent, 8.4 yards per attempt, one TD and no picks, one drop and a 110.8 rating.

Bad against the blitz: Two weeks after Manning did well to figure out the Jets' blitzes before halftime, he struggled against New Orleans’ additional pressure. Against five or more rushers, he was 9-of-16 for 69 yards with an interception and a 40.9 rating.

Two bad elements united: Entering the Super Bowl, Manning had thrown only one interception in the fourth quarter this season (124 pass attempts). Manning also attempted 164 passes on third down entering Sunday and turned the ball over just twice. The pick-six came on a third-down attempt in the fourth quarter.

Well, you broke them up for good: New Orleans broke up six of Manning's pass attempts Sunday. That was the second-most pass breakups against Manning this season (Texans, Week 9).

Freeney’s limitations: The Colts attempted to limit Dwight Freeney’s participation to passing situations. He was on the field for 27 of the 39 Saints' pass plays (69.2 percent), but only eight of 18 Saints rush plays (44.4 percent).

He missed the Saints' touchdown drive after the onside kick to open the second half, as he was getting his ankle re-taped, expecting the Colts to be on offense.

The Saints were a bit less effective passing when Freeney was in the game -- averaging 0.6 fewer yards per attempt and completing 6.5 percent fewer passes.

Up the middle, before and after The Who: In the first half, the Colts got 59 yards on seven carries up the middle. That fell to just 8 yards on three carries in the second half. Joseph Addai was noticeably absent in runs up the middle in the second half. In the first half, Addai had three rushes for 47 yards up the middle. Addai had just one carry for minus-2 yards up the middle in the second half.

Stop running: The Saints and Colts tied the Super Bowl record for fewest combined rushes. The Steelers and Cardinals also combined for 37 carries last year. How's that for evidence of what a passing league it's become?