Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and its surrounding parishes in 2005, was the latest in a long line of unfortunate instances that affected the New Orleans Saints. Since the Superdome housed those who fled the storm, the facility became essentially unusable for the 2005 season. Combine that fact with owner Tom Benson's persistence in moving the team (San Antonio was in talks to receive the team for relocation after that season), Saints fans' confidence in the team's success was surely shaken.
Two things happened during the offseason that helped bring people back to the Saints: The hiring of Sean Payton as the team's new head coach and enlisting Drew Brees as the starting quarterback. Payton, the Dallas Cowboys' offensive coordinator, had established offensive success in Dallas and with the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles in lesser positions. Brees was the riskier pick. The former San Diego Charger saw his team release him to groom Philip Rivers for the position. Brees, who had torn his shoulder muscle in the final game of the season, had to endure questions of his health, and when the Miami Dolphins remained unconvinced he was healthy, the Saints signed him, and the two developed an instant chemistry.
With wide receiver Marques Colston, who they acquired in the NFL draft and with whom Brees developed a rapport, the team started to see glimpses of what was to come for them, winning the NFC South title and getting to the NFC Championship game before losing to the Chicago Bears.
This was compelling because they had returned before the 2006 season and had sold out the Superdome in advance of the season and did it entirely with season ticket money. To have this happen with the team almost packing the moving vans as a means of keeping the team in Louisiana was a powerful statement to Benson about the team's importance to the community, and the fact that the team had done so well in their New Orleans return apparently cemented its place in the city for years to come. However, despite records of 7-9 in 2007 and 8-8 in 2008, nobody could have foreseen what was to come in 2009.
Before 2009, the Saints named defensive coaching star Gregg Williams as its coordinator and helped give the defense the confidence it needed to dominate teams when they were on the field. This almost seemed to liberate Payton into working with Brees and the offense more, and the result was a team that started the season winning its first 13 games, and never scoring less than 21 points in the process. While they dropped their final three games, they quickly rebounded to form in the playoffs, thrashing the Arizona Cardinals 45-14 in the NFC Divisional Playoffs before beating the Minnesota Vikings (and quarterback legend Brett Favre) in overtime 31-28 for their first Super Bowl birth. Using an offside kick to start the second half, they used the momentum to propel themselves over the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 for their first championship.
The Saints Road to XLIV is a four-disc package that includes the Saints' playoff run, along with their come-from-behind win in overtime over the Washington Redskins 33-30 that made them 12-0. All of the plays, stats and score flashbacks are included, though there are some reservations about the set.
One big reservation is that this set is really just the games. It's free of extras, or behind the game interviews of sorts. To put it another way, the NFL's 24-hour channel has this feature where after a game has been played, they will replay it midweek and include interviews from the players, be it on the game or a specific play during it. Putting the game broadcasts on discs and charging $30 for it seems little more than a rip-off for the diehard fans out there. But hey, if you want everything associated with the Saints' championship year, then this is the thing for you.
All four games are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Frankly these are straightforward and accurate reproductions of what they looked like at the time of broadcast, in case you didn't watch them in high definition or anything.
All the games have two-channel Dolby stereo that is hassle-free as you'd expect.
Zip, zero, zilch, but you knew that from my rant earlier.
Most football fans likely have burned copies of the games from their high-definition sets onto discs of their own, and the quality in and of themselves is better than the four-disc package here, which Warner does nothing with to differentiate from being just another cash grab. If you're a Saints fan this may not even be for you if you've got the fancy equipment, but if you're a completist then by all means go for it.