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Former SMU Punter Thomas Morstead Helps New Orleans Win Super Bowl XLIV

  Morstead and NFL officials signal 'First Down, New Orleans' (AP)

MIAMI, Fla. – Who Dat turned Super Bowl XLIV in the New Orleans Saints’ favor? Thomas Morstead, a rookie punter and kickoff specialist from SMU, that’s who.

Morstead’s perfectly executed onside kick was recovered by teammate Jonathan Casillas at the beginning of the second half, enabling the Saints to take the momentum they never relinquished. Six plays later, quarterback Drew Brees completed a screen pass to Pierre Thomas, who ran into the end zone from 16 yards out. The touchdown gave the Saints a 13-10 lead, the team's first of the game. New Orleans fans started burning the paper bags they once covered their heads with following the Saints’ 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in their first Super Bowl.

"Thomas was the key,” said New Orleans Head Coach Sean Payton, whose decision to attempt the onside kick is considered one of the gutsiest calls in Super Bowl history.

Morstead’s kickoffs consistently carried inside Indianapolis’ five-yard-line. He also averaged 44 yards on two punts, one of which was downed inside the Colts’ 20-yard-line.

The NFC honored Morstead as its Special Teams Player of the Week twice in 2009, following the Saints’ November 22nd game against Tampa Bay and against Carolina on January 3rd.

Morstead, from Pearland, Texas, was the second punter chosen in the 2009 NFL Draft. He was New Orleans’ fifth-round choice, the 164th player chosen.

Morstead was a first-team All-Conference USA selection by both the coaches and the media while playing for SMU in 2008. He ranked ninth in the nation with a 44.6-yard punting average and helped the Mustangs rank second in net punting. Morstead, who played for the Mustangs from 2005 to 2008, studied mechanical engineering at SMU.

New Orleans defeated beat Arizona, Minnesota and Indianapolis – all division champions – on the way to its first world championship, scoring 107 points while allowing just 59.

The championship came 4½ years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, making the Saints nomads during the 2005 season. There was even doubt they would return, but the NFL refused to abandon “The Big Easy.” The Superdome was rebuilt and the Saints won the NFC South in 2006, their first season with Brees as their quarterback and Payton as their head coach.




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