MIAMI – Louisiana native Tracy Porter played a crucial role in the New Orleans Saints’ magical run to a Super Bowl title with their victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
A second-round draft pick out of Indiana, who grew up across the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, Porter watched the Saints every Sunday with his family and friends. He remembers the lean years all too clearly.
Now the Saints have done the unthinkable in large part because of him in a 31-17 victory Sunday.
His 74-yard touchdown return of an interception of Peyton Manning gave the Saints a formidable two-touchdown lead late in the fourth quarter.
Porter said it was a case of film study paying off. He recognized the formation, with Austin Collie going in motion, and knew Manning would be looking for Reggie Wayne near the distance needed for a first down.
“When I saw Austin Collie go in motion I said, ‘Oh yeah, this is the route they’ve been running all year,’ and yeah, I had it in my mind I was going to jump the route,” Porter said.
He followed a couple of blocks, made one cut, and there was nothing but open field in front of him. He knew he was going to score and pointed to the stands, where Saints fans were jumping out of their seats with delight.
“I was pointing at the Who Dat nation out there,” he said.
“Porter made a heck of a play,” Manning said.
In the NFC title game, Porter’s late interception of Brett Favre stalled Minnesota’s potential game-winning drive. The Saints went on to beat the Vikings in overtime to earn their first Super Bowl berth.
When asked about picking off Manning in such a big game, Porter had a little déja vu.
“I got the same question when I picked off Brett Favre. Peyton, he’s a phenomenal quarterback, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, such as the previous two quarterbacks we played in the playoffs,” he said, referring to Arizona’s Kurt Warner and Favre. “I’ve been watching (Manning) since my time at Indiana put up points on the scoreboard.”