Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees dedicated victory to the city of New Orleans as the Saints began celebrating their 31-17 win over Indianapolis Colts in Miami.
Quarterback Brees completed 32 of his 39 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns to earn the Most Valuable Player award, with the Saints winning in their first Super Bowl appearance after 42 years in the National Football League -- and four-and-a-half years after their city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
"Four years ago whoever thought this would be happening," Brees said. "When 85pc of the city was under water, all of its residents evacuated to places all over the country, most people were wondering if New Orleans would ever come back or if the team would ever come back.
"But not only did the team come back and the city come back, so many players that are our core group of players came in that year as free agents and looked at one another and said 'we're going to rebuild together; we're going to lean on each other'.
"That's what we've done here for the past four years and this is the culmination of all that belief and that faith."
Brees moved to the Saints less than six months after Katrina hit New Orleans and has been a part of his team's efforts to help rebuild the city.
"It's unbelievable, I don't think it's sunk in yet," he said. "Just to think of the road that we've all travelled to get to this point and how much we've invested, how much adversity we faced along the way -- but, then again, how many people believed in us and gave us the strength to go out and do what we did tonight?
Brees also paid tribute to the aggressive decision-making of head coach Sean Payton, who called for an onside kick at the start of the second half after his side had trailed 10-6 at the interval.
Rather than punt the ball upfield, rookie Thomas Morstead sent a short kick along the ground the minimum 10 yards in a bid to snaffle possession rather than turn the ball over to the Colts. Payton's gamble paid off as the ball bounced off the shoulder of Colts back-up wide receiver Hank Baskett and was pounced on by the Saints' Jonathan Casillas to give New Orleans the platform for a Pierre Thomas touchdown at the start of the half.
"Our coach is unbelievable," Brees said. "Not only as an offensive guru, an aggressive, confident play-caller who can instil all that into his players, but as a guy who has to manage so much.
"He does it with class and there's nobody that I wanted to win this championship for more than Sean Payton."
Colts head coach Jim Caldwell, in his first year after taking over from Tony Dungy, had seen his team's chances of victory effectively ended when a pass from quarterback Peyton Manning had been picked for a 74-yard interception touchdown by Tracy Porter in the fourth quarter, yet he refused to pinpoint that moment as the key to defeat.
"I'm not certain it comes down to one play," Caldwell said. "There were a lot of things throughout the game that created some problems and obviously the onside kick was a situation that really got them going when they were able to go down and get a score.
"So I don't think it boils down to just one play. We weren't quite as sharp as we would have liked but we've got to give all credit to the Saints. They did a heck of a good job, played well all year long, are an outstanding football team and well coached."