Monday, February 08, 2010

Super Bowl XLIV: Peak Performance Case Study

"Everyone has such a passion for living. They deserve this so much."

--Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints' quarterback and Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XLIV, discussing the city and the people of New Orleans.

Let's take a look at the New Orleans Saints' win over the Indianapolis Colts yesterday and their building blocks of success.


New Orleans Saints were playing for an entire city and state. Brees said the Saints "played for so much more than just ourselves. We played for our city ... and the entire Who Dat nation that was behind us all the way."

"We have a 1-year old son, and we're attached to this community now," Brees said. "We've made it our own, and we need to continue to help in whatever way that we can."

"I feel like we have fate and destiny on our side," Brees said. "We have the strength of not only a city and a community but I feel like an entire country, that there's a piece of everyone who wants to see us win the Super Bowl."

"Four years ago, who would've thought that we'd be here?" said Brees in reference to his signing with the team in 2006, a couple months after Sean Payton had taken the head coaching job. "Eighty-five percent of the city was underwater. People had been evacuated to other parts of the country. But the organization and the city decided to rebuild together and that's what we did. Today was the culmination of all that work."

For the Indianapolis Colts, the focus may have been too much on Peyton Manning's legacy. The media was ready to annoint Peyton Manning as the Greatest Quarterback of All-Time with a second Super Bowl win. From the end of the regular season on, the Indianapolis Colts also appeared to be planning very cautiously, including playing the regular season to avoid injury, rather than preparing and playing for success and victory. The irony being that the Colts sustained several injuries during the playoffs which did not help them in the Super Bowl.

Advantage: Saints

Mental Mindset

"We just believed in ourselves and we knew that we had an entire city and maybe an entire country behind us," Brees said after being voted MVP in New Orleans' 31-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts. "What can I say? I tried to imagine what this moment would be like for a long time, and it's better than expected."

Advantage: Saints


The Colts seemed to be on their heels, particularly on defense, in the second half. They did not anticipate the Saints' onside-kick to begin the second half and did not adjust to the Saints' "fast-break offense."

The Saints' Tracy Porter intercepted Peyton Manning late in the second half through anticipation and preparation. He sniffed out the pass and knew it was coming.

Advantage: Saints


Payton will forever be known for one of the riskiest calls in Super Bowl history. The Saints practiced the onside kick they call Ambush for two weeks, and in their meetings before the game Sunday Payton told his special teams units that they were going to try it in the game; it was just a matter of when. During the long Super Bowl halftime, Payton made the decision to go for it. He was so confident in its success that he scripted the first eight plays of the drive that followed, too.

The Colts' Manning is the king of preparation, but this match-up might have to go to the Saints as well.

Advantage: Saints

Game Plan

"The first thing we cared about coming into this game was taking care of the football," said Brees, whose efforts helped the Saints secure their first championship in team history. "And the second thing was to be patient. We did both those things and they resulted in a win."

"I think they had a smart, patient game plan," said Indianapolis free safety Antoine Bethea. "They didn't make many big plays in terms of long yardage, but they made a lot of big plays in terms of timing. [Brees] was all about location. Their receivers found the open spots and, to his credit, Drew put the ball right where he had to, again and again. He didn't make great passes, but he definitely delivered [the ball] when he had to, and to the right person. He used the people around him really well."

Advantage: Saints


Brees finished one of the most productive Super Bowl appearances ever for a quarterback — completing 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was 30 of 33 in the second half.

Advantage: Saints

The Future

Continuous Improvement

“There is something about what we do that maybe allows you 24 to 48 hours before you start eyeing up the next challenge,” Payton said. “Somewhere last night we talked about Dallas, Texas and one of the greatest stadiums our league knows, and there’s probably never enough in regards to the challenge. When you get a quarterback like Drew Brees in the prime of his career, it’s not enough. Last night was great, and yet still there is something that burns in you to separate yourself more.”

“When you get back into the swing of things, it’s all about that 2010 season,” quarterback Drew Brees said. “There’s 32 teams that feel like it’s going to be their year. We know what it’s like to build something from the ground up. What’s going to be fun is using the term repeat all next year.”

Excerpts from (February 5 & 8, 2010), New York Times (February 8, 2010), (February 8, 2010), Canadian Press (February 8, 2010).

For more on Peak Performance, click on The Handbook of Peak Performance.

To download the Peak Performance eCoach, a mental conditioning tool, click on The Peak Performance eCoach.

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