|Saints need to stop more than just Peyton Manning. (US Presswire)|
The last time the Saints faced Peyton Manning, they held the Indianapolis Colts to 17 points in a 31-17 win at Super Bowl XLIV, sealing the victory on a Tracy Porter interception return for a touchdown.
They will see Manning again this Sunday night in Denver. Asked how New Orleans stopped Indianapolis in that Super Bowl, safety Roman Harper denied the premise.
“We didn't stop him,” he said. “We stopped him two possessions. That was Tracy's interception and then on the one possession right before the half, they took it almost with the fullback on the 1-yard line and then they punted. We stole another possession, and that's what it's about. It's not about stopping Peyton Manning.”
Harper's memory was pretty close. Manning went 31 of 45 for 333 yards, the Colts outgained the Saints 432-332 and they converted a respectable 6 of 13 third downs.
Indianapolis had only eight possessions, reaching at least the New Orleans 31 on six of them. The first drive ended in a field goal. The second went for a touchdown. The third was a three-and-out that ended at the Colts 28. The fourth was another three-and-out on a drive that started at the 1-yard line after a goal-line stand. The fifth was a TD, and the sixth was a missed field goal after the Colts reached the Saints' 30. Porter's interception ended the seventh series, and the Colts turned the ball over on downs at the New Orleans 5 on their final possession.
With the Saints ranked last in the NFL in defense, they'd take a similar defensive effort in a second. Porter signed with the Broncos in the offseason, so he can't help them, but the key is keeping the Colts out of the end zone and Manning on the sideline.
“It's not about always stopping Peyton Manning,” Harper said. “He is so good, and we understand that. You can try to get in his head, but more often than not you'll probably get in your own head and mess yourself up.”
The only other time any current New Orleans player faced Manning was 2007, when the Colts buried the Saints 41-10 on the opening Thursday game of the season. Manning went 18 of 30 for 288 yards and three touchdowns as Indianapolis outscored New Orleans 31-0 in the second half.
Follow Saints reporter Guerry Smith on twitter @CBSSaints.