By Simon Evans
MIAMI (Reuters) - If the New Orleans Saints are to beat the Indianapolis Colts in Sunday's Super Bowl, a superior running game could be their key to grinding down the Colts defense and sidelining opposition quarterback Peyton Manning.
Manning is the expert in game management, in sweeping his team down the field to get swift points on the board, but Saints running back Pierre Thomas believes he, Reggie Bush and Mike Bell form a triple-pronged running unit that may hold the edge.
"We want to strive to get our running game going," said Thomas.
"We talk about that all the time. We watched film on the Colts. We talked -- Reggie, Mike and myself -- we all got together and said, 'hey, we have to establish, we have to set the tone for this game.' If we do that, I think we'll be successful."
The three running backs each bring different qualities to the offensive game plan to complement quarterback Drew Brees's passing, Thomas added.
"You have Reggie, he's athletic, fast, quick, agile. The man can do a lot of different things.
"And then you have Bell, he's a hard-nosed runner. This guy will knock the mess out of you. He will lower his shoulder. He's not scared at all. He'll just run you over," added Thomas.
Thomas said the running game had given the Saints a diversity and a balance to the offensive approach.
"We want to confuse the opponents' defense. Either they have to watch for the run, whether we have Mike Bell, Reggie or myself in there. You have to be careful of that, but you also have to be careful of Drew Brees because he's capable of anything."
Bush agreed with Thomas that the Saints' run would need to give them the upper hand.
"I've always said that I've felt it's a running back's job to set the tone for the game," Bush said.
"If you look back, the teams who have won the Super Bowl, they ran the ball well. When the Steelers won it, they ran the ball well. We have to run the ball well if we want to even have a fighting chance to win this game."
(Editing by Ian Ransom)