Rapid Reaction: Saints 31, Colts 17

MIAMI –- Mardi Gras can start early on Bourbon Street.

The New Orleans Saints have won the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history. Second-year cornerback Tracy Porter had a huge interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter Sunday night as the Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium.

Porter’s interception gave the Saints a 31-17 lead with 3:05 remaining. Porter jumped a route and picked off a pass by New Orleans native Peyton Manning that was intended for Reggie Wayne.

That gave the Saints a lead that was too big for even Manning to overcome.

The victory not only gave New Orleans its first championship in any major sport, but also validated Sean Payton and Drew Brees. The victory gives Payton a Super Bowl title and a trip to another NFC Championship Game in his first four seasons. That should move him into the league’s list of elite coaches.

Even more so, the victory clearly puts Brees at the top of his field. He had been mentioned with Manning and New England’s Tom Brady as one of the top quarterbacks in recent years. But the argument against Brees always was that he lacked a Super Bowl ring.

That argument is over because Brees now will have a Super Bowl ring and the city of New Orleans and the Gulf region, which was so crushed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, has something to celebrate.

No need to wait for Mardi Gras.

I'm heading to do interviews. Will be back with lots more in a bit.