(CNN) -- The New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl for the first time in their 43-year history with a 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at the Sun Life Arena in Miami on Sunday night.
The NFC champions recovered from a slow start to deny Indianapolis a repeat of their Super Bowl success against Chicago Bears in the same stadium three years ago.
Inspired by MVP Drew Brees, who won his head-to-head with fellow star quarterback Peyton Manning, the Saints took command after trailing 17-16 going into the final quarter.
Jeremy Shockey bulldozed over for a touchdown to give them a lead they never relinquished, increased by a two-point conversion after another crucial call by coach Sean Payton.
Trailing 24-17, the Colts needed a touchdown to force overtime, but Manning saw his pass intercepted by Tracy Porter, who returned for a 74-yard touchdown which all but sealed their fate.
It proved a sweet triumph for perennial underdogs New Orleans, coming five years after the city was decimated by Hurricane Katrina.
Thousands of fans in New Orleans took to the street as it became clear that their side was finally going to triumph.
In a game initially dominated by defenses, the Colts followed an early field goal from Matt Strover by ending the first quarter with a Super Bowl record-equaling 96-yard drive with quarterback Manning at the heart.
He eventually threw for Pierre Garcon to go over in the right of the end zone and give his side a 10-0 lead.
Saints gained more momentum in the second quarter, but even with Brees finding his range could not secure a touchdown.
But they did score through two field goals by kicker Garrett Hartley, the hero of the NFC Championship victory over Minnesota.
Trailing 10-6 at the half, Saints coach Payton called for an audacious onside kick, the first in Super Bowl history outside of the fourth quarter.
Under massive pressure Saints claimed the first down from a advantageous field position and soon afterwards Pierre Thomas was celebrating his side's first touchdown as they claimed a 13-10 lead.
Manning had not completed a pass for 70 minutes but on the next set of drives by the Colts found Joseph Addai who put them 17-13 ahead with their second touchdown of the night.
Hartley kicked another long range field goal to keep his side within a point at the third quarter.
Brees was starting to dominate for the Saints and in the final quarter tied the previous record for completions in a Super Bowl held by Tom Brady with his 32nd.
Two unanswered touchdowns left favorites and AFC champions Indianapolis well beaten and it was New Orleans who lifted the Vince Lombardi trophy in their first appearance in a Super Bowl.
An emotional Brees captured the mood of the moment in his post-match comments.
"We just believed in ourselves. We knew we had the entire city and maybe the entire country behind us. Mardi Gras may never end. The celebrations may never end," he said.