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How ‘bout dat! Saints win

MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. ­—The coronation of Peyton Manning was canceled Sunday night at exactly 9:29. The lasting image of him was supposed to come much later, Manning standing on a podium and accepting his second Lombardi Trophy. It arrived early, Manning thrashed to the ground and watching his legacy run by.

A movie-script moment gave Manning his chance to cement himself as perhaps the best quarterback of all time - trailing by 7, driving the Colts in the waning minutes of Super Bowl XLIV. But when Tracy Porter intercepted a Manning pass and ran it back 74 yards for a touchdown, an epic game turned suddenly and shockingly into a 31-17 victory for the New Orleans Saints, and a discussion about Manning’s place in football’s annals turned into the biggest party Bourbon Street ever has seen.

“Four years ago, who ever thought this would be happening?” said Saints quarterback Drew Brees, the game’s Most Valuable Player. “Eight-five percent of the city was under water. People were evacuating to places all over the country. We just all looked at one another and said, ‘We are going to rebuild together. We are going to lean on each other.’ That’s what we’ve done the last four years, and this is the culmination of that belief.”

­­— Adam Kilgore, The Boston Globe

Rep. John P. Murtha dies at 77

WASHINGTON —Rep. John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, a gruff ex-Marine who used his immense power in military spending to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to his hard-luck district and who became an outspoken critic of the Iraq war, died on Monday. He was 77.

He died at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, where he was being treated for complications of gallbladder surgery, his office said. Murtha’s death came two days after he became the longest-serving congressman in Pennsylvania history, his office said, surpassing the record of Joseph M. McDade, a Scranton Republican who served from 1963 to 1999.

Elected in 1974 and the first Vietnam combat veteran to serve in Congress, Murtha voted in 2002 to authorize use of military force in Iraq. But he evolved into a leading foe of the war as it was conducted under the administration of President George W. Bush.

“The war in Iraq is not going as advertised,” Murtha said in November 2005 as he demanded an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.

— David Stout, The New York Times

Shuttle blasts off for ISS

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. —The space shuttle Endeavour thundered into orbit before dawn Monday morning, briefly turning darkness into daylight.

It was the second effort to get the Endeavour off the ground, 24 hours after clouds over the launching pad scrubbed Sunday’s attempt. Clouds again encroached, but there were enough holes to allow the Endeavour to lift off on schedule at 4:14 a.m., a bright streak rising to the northeast along the East Coast. It was the 130th launching of a shuttle and probably the final night launching as the program winds down and ends after four more flights.

The Endeavour is carrying the last major piece of the International Space Station. Two of the shuttle’s crew members, Nicholas J.M. Patrick and Lt. Col. Robert L. Behnken of the Air Force, will conduct three spacewalks to install a 23-foot-long, 15-foot-wide Tranquility module.

The module includes a seven-windowed dome, or cupola, that will offer panoramic views of Earth and space. The viewing area, large enough for two astronauts, will be used to control the station’s 60-foot-long robotic arm and to observe other activities outside the station.

The Endeavour is also delivering spare parts for the station’s water system, which recycles urine and sweat into clean water.

— Kenneth Chang, The New York Times