The celebration of Mardi Gras has begun earlier than usual, as the party kicked off in the streets of New Orleans February 7 after the Saints claimed their first NFL championship in franchise history with a 31-17 victory against the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami, Fla.

The game was tightly contested for three and a half quarters, but the Saints played nearly flawlessly in the final minutes to claim the Lombardi trophy. Here’s how the game played out:

New Orleans claimed its championship throne when…
Saints cornerback Tracy Porter covered Colts receiver Reggie Wayne perfectly and intercepted a pass by Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, returning it 74 yards for a touchdown to give New Orleans a 31-17 lead with just over three minutes left in the game. The Colts didn’t have enough time to overcome the two-score deficit, giving the Saints their first Super Bowl victory.

Outstanding Player(s) of the Game:
Saints all-pro quarterback Drew Brees played mistake-free football, completing 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. The Colts’ defensive unit covered deep to keep Brees from throwing the long ball, and he remained patient and didn’t force passes into the deep coverage. He was named Super Bowl MVP for his outstanding performance.

Marques Colston led the Saints with seven catches for 83 yards, while teammate Jonathan Vilma led with seven solo tackles. Porter had four tackles to go with his game-clinching interception returned for a touchdown.