Saints' Pierre Thomas dives into the end zone in 3rd quarter

*After decades of being known as underachievers to point where they were nicknamed the “Aints,” the New Orleans Saints are now known by their new moniker, Super Bowl Champions.

If you’ve been under a rock for the past 24 hours and hadn’t heard, Drew Brees and the Saints rallied to beat Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 Sunday night in one of the better title games.

Brees tied a Super Bowl record with 32 completions, the last a 2-yard slant to Jeremy Shockey for the winning points with 5:42 remaining. The Pro Bowl quarterback was chosen Super Bowl MVP.

New Orleans’ lowly ranked defense made several key stops, an onside kick sparked their second-half comeback, and Tracy Porter’s 74-yard interception return on a pass from Manning, of all people, clinched it.

Manning gave chase, but fell awkwardly as the cornerback zipped by. The four-time NFL MVP walked to the sideline as New Orleans’ celebrations began.

An NFL embarrassment for much of their 43 years, the Saints’ football renaissance, led by Brees and coach Sean Payton, climaxed with Shockey’s touchdown and Lance Moore’s 2-point conversion catch – which Payton challenged and won after Moore was ruled down at the 1.

Porter’s pick, just as dramatic as his interception of Brett Favre’s pass at the end of the NFC title game that forced overtime, was the game’s only turnover. It’s one Manning won’t forget for a long time.

Needless to say, Mardi Gras time has started nine days sooner in New Orleans.