Though I didn’t get you a preview for the game last week, I want to go on record right now as having picked the Colts by the exact score the game turned out . . . okay, okay, so I thought the Bears would win by at least a field goal . . .dammit!
The scoreboard shows the game to have been only a 12 point win for Indianapolis, but it was far more out of reach in the fourth quarter than the digital display at Pro Player Stadium indicated. Many will say that the story of the game was Peyton Manning leading the offense for the Colts holding onto the ball for over 17 minutes more than the Bears. Some will try to point to Rex Grossman’s poor performance as the reason the Bears lost. But the reality is, Chicago was outcoached and outgunned in this one. It looked early on to be a fairly even matchup. Devin Hester took the opening kick off back 92 yards for the TD. The Colts answered with a 53 yard pass to a wide open Reggie Wayne, but failed to convert the PAT when the ball slipped the the holder’s hands in the driving rain (the first time ever that rain was actually falling on the game during a Super Bowl). The Bears immediately answered with a 4 play, 57 yard drive to go up 14-6. From there, it seemed the offensive scheme for Chicago seemed to be “Let’s play to not lose,” instead of playing to win. Despite Thomas Jones averaging 7.5 yards per carry, despite only being down by five points at the beginning of the 4th quarter, the Bears all but abandoned the running game . . .against the worst rushing defense in the league. This completes the cycle for Indy in the playoffs of no one truly committing to the run against this pourous rushing D.
But not to worry, on the other side of the ball, the Bears defensive play calling seemed to be “Just don’t give up the big play.” No worry indeed for Peyton Manning. He flipped the ball to Joseph Addai out in the flats 10 times for 66 yards (that’s twice the number of passes the next highest receiver (Marvin Harrison) had with 5 catches). The fear of the big pass play, especially after the 53 yard strike to Wayne, loosened up the Bear secondary so much, they front four were left to fend for themselves against the Colt running game, which racked up 191 yards rushing.
Rex Grossman did not have a stellar game by any measuring tape. However, he did complete 71% of his passes, but he will be remembered for some time by Chicago fans for the two passes that seemed to just float away from the intended receivers into Colt defender’s hands; one returned for a touchdown that put the game at it’s final tally. This was Grossman’s first full season as the starting quarterback for the Bears and it may have been his last, but we will just have to wait and see.
For Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy, the provervial “monkey” is off their back. Of course, there are still those out there that insist that Peyton didn’t have a good enough game to be named MVP; that the running game was the biggest reason for the win. But having Peyton up under center kept the Bears in fear of that deep ball all night and made in possible for the running game success. Also: throwing for 247 yards in a driving rain storm against Da Bears is no small feat.
Finally: congratulations go out to the Indianapolis Colts – SUPER BOWL XLI CHAMPIONS!!!