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Watch out for special teams on Sunday

One of the most overlooked aspects in football could determine this year’s Super Bowl champion. Joe Fortenbaugh

Print This February 02, 2010, 09:12 PM EST

MIAMI, Fla-Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Dwight Freeney’s ankle.

What do all three of these things have in common?

They are the most talked about players/body parts heading into Super Bowl XLIV.

And none of them have anything to do with special teams.

In a Super Bowl featuring two teams that produced very similar offensive and defensive statistics in 2009, special teams could be the deciding factor in the planet’s biggest sporting event.

Unfortunately, nobody ever talks about special teams unless it involves a game-winning field goal. And that’s a fact that is not easily lost on New Orleans Saints special teams ace Pierson Prioleau.

“A lot of times, people don’t realize the importance of special teams,” Prioleau told me during Tuesday’s Media Day at Sun Life Stadium. “It’s not just a play that happens before and after commercials. It’s a play that actually sets up field position for the team.”

Prioleau, an 11-year veteran out of Virginia Tech, signed with the Saints last February after spending his 2008 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. A safety by position, Prioleau makes his leaving on those plays before and after commercials known as special teams.

“We need every point we can get. It’s going to take every point that we can put on the board. And if the special teams can put some points on the board, it will be huge for this team.”

During the 2009 regular season, teams that had at least a +1 turnover differential on special teams went 29-19 (.604).

“When you have an offense as powerful as the Colts and a defense that is as fast as the Colts, our special teams have to bring some key yardage that could put us over the top and help win this football game,” Prioleau said.

And for that key yardage, the Saints will look no further than Reggie Bush.

“He’s [Bush] an explosive player and one of the best talents in the NFL. The things that he has the ability to do if given the chance are unbelievable.”

You can bet there’s a whole nation of Who Dats hoping Bush is given that chance.

Here’s how the Saints and Colts ranked in some of the key special teams categories this season:

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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