'A New Team' For Manning

Super Bowl Notebook

Quarterback, Coach Don't Expect An Edge From Past Triumph

February 03, 2010|By Tribune Newspapers

MIAMI - -Indianapolis cornerback Kelvin Hayden is superstitious. So having the same room in the same beachside hotel in Fort Lauderdale as he did three years ago when the Colts beat the Chicago Bears, 29-17, in the Super Bowl is a positive omen.

"It was kind of blurry to me at first, but once we stepped in the hotel, everything kind of came back to me," said Hayden, who had 50 tackles and an interception this season. "I'm going to wear the same suit as I did last time.

"I try to keep things the same. If it works, why try to fix it?"

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning - Most Valuable Player of that rain-soaked game in then-Dolphin Stadium - warns against the theory that familiar circumstances guarantee a victory against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

"I don't think staying in the same hotel helps you stop Drew Brees' offense or figure out where Darren Sharper is going to be," Manning said. "It still has a different feel. It's a new year because we have a new team. We have a new head coach."

Colts rookie coach Jim Caldwell was the defensive coordinator three years ago, and 25 of his players now were on that championship team.

"It certainly does give you a little less trepidation because it's not new to them in terms of surroundings, but that is only not new to a portion of our team," Caldwell said.

One memory that Hayden would like to relive is his 56-yard touchdown return off an interception in the fourth quarter that sent the Bears into hibernation.

Underdogs, and liking it

The oddsmakers are favoring the Colts by five points, and the Saints aren't surprised. They seem to welcome the underdog role.

"We embrace it. But in no way is that a slight on the confidence that we have," said Marques Colston, the team's leading receiver. "I think we have a really confident group of guys, and that confidence stems from our preparation."

Tailback Reggie Bush said despite spending most of the season undefeated, the first time the Saints felt the nation's respect as a "legit contender" was when New Orleans beat the New England Patriots, 38-17, in Week 12.

"I feel like we haven't been picked to win a game all year and have faced the criticism head-on," Bush said. "Without the critics, who would push you to play harder?"

But don't look for the Saints to start talking tough or making bold predictions of upsets. Coach Sean Payton has instructed his team to keep the comments about the Colts tame, and for good reason.

"You never want to give a team added motivation," Bush said. "Say the right things and keep whatever else behind closed doors. Everyone knows what we're up against. The Colts are a great team. They've been here before. They have the experience level, so we're the underdogs naturally."

Line gets recognition

The Saints' offensive line was the winner of the first-ever Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award, given to the NFL's best offensive line. The trophy, which features a offensive line chiseled in stone, weighs 102 pounds, which explains why two of the Saints' linemen struggled to hold it up Tuesday.

The Saints won the award, which was decided by John Madden, input from an NFL panel and fan votes, by beating out the Colts, Eagles, Jets and Titans offensive lines.

"We don't get noticed a lot, but to receive this recognition for the work that we put in is a great feeling," said starting guard Carl Nicks. The Saints finished sixth in rushing yards (2,106) and gave up just 20 sacks.

Not so popular

Unlike the enormous media interest in the injured ankle of Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney, reporters didn't bombard linebackers coach Mike Murphy with questions about his broken right foot.

"I started out Friday as doubtful and am now probable for Sunday," Murphy joked. "[After practice Friday] I was carrying chicken wings to my house and stepped off the sidewalk and cracked a bone in my ankle. So [my family] took the chicken wings in the house so they wouldn't get cold and then came back for me."

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