Sean Payton was gutsy.
Drew Brees was near perfect.
Tracey Porter was a back breaker.
But the Saints don't win this Super Bowl without Garrett Hartley.
Hartley came into this game as the most inexperienced kicker ever in a Super Bowl. He had only attempted 22 field goals in his NFL career. The only reason he was even playing was because of an injury to the Saints' regular kicker John Carney.
Now Hartley owns two Super Bowl records. Most inexperienced, and first to make three 40 plus yard kicks in the big game. The guy didn't miss.
I know some of you don't value the role of a kicker. Go ask the Bills. They lost their first Super Bowl on a wide right 47 yard kick. Hartley made two from 47.
Or maybe you should ask the Chargers. They might have been playing in this Super Bowl if it weren't for the fact that Nate Kaeding missed all three of his attempts against the Jets in the divisional playoffs. They lost by three points.
Or maybe you could ask Peyton Manning. He endured years of playing with Mike Vanderjact, who was the NFL's most accurate kicker (at least until it came down to crunch time in a playoff game). Peyton was no fan of loudmouth Mike, and must have been thrillred in 2006 when Adam Vinatieri joined the Colts. He responded by leading the Colts to a Super Bowl victory that year.
Speaking of Adam Vinatieri, if you don't believe a clutch kicker is valuable just ask the Patriots...........or the Raiders....or the Rams......or the Panthers. He singlehandedly snuffed out the dreams of these three teams and helped the Pats go from very good to Dynasty.
There were many heroes in this game. But lets give it up for the little guy. His accurate kicking kept the Saints in it early, and his precise onsides kick to start the second half turned the game in New Orleans' favour.
For all the great plays you saw in this game there was only one thing you hadn't seen before and may never see again. You just witnessed the most inexperienced kicker in Super Bowl history become the most accurate long range kicker in Super Bowl history.
But for all that you may still doubt his value to his team. I'm sure Sean Payton, Tracey Porter, and Drew Brees would beg to differ.