The Dolphin Stadium in Miami, Fla. hosted the two top teams in the National Football League on Feb. 4 at 6:25 p.m.: the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts. These two conference champions laid it on the line to take home the Lombardi trophy and Super Bowl XLI rings.
This Super Bowl marked the first time in history that a black head coach has ever made it to this milestone. Amazingly, there is not only one black coach, but two.
Lovie Smith of the Bears and Tony Dungy of the Colts couldn’t be happier to be in this position and both know that their work is cut-out for them.
The National Football Conference champs, the Bears, have arguably the best defense in the league allowing 38.2 less yards on the season than the Colts. Defensive linebacker Brian Urlacher is one of the marquee players on the Bears defensive squad. On the season he has a total of 142 tackles and the Bears look to his leadership to hold the tough offensive game of the Colts to a bare minimum.
Not only can the Bears play the big “D”, but they have Rex Grossman calling all of the offensive shots on the field. Grossman, a four-year player, has been criticized frequently throughout the season because of his strong weeks followed by shaky weeks. With 3,193 passing yards and 23 touchdowns, it all comes down to this one game to establish himself.
His close partner on the field, wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad, will need to have a big game to bring home the pride to Chicago. Muhammad has 60 receptions for 863 yards and five touchdowns.
Chicago knows they have to contain the No. 18 Colts star, who has 4,397 passing yards and 31 touchdowns, or they would have came down to Miami for nothing.
Bears coach Smith said, “I looked at 18 pages of Peyton Manning.”
Manning has an offense in which he trusts, especially top-receiver Marvin Harrison. Thrown more to than the Bear’s Muhammad, Harrison has 95 receptions for 1,366 yards and two touchdowns. The Colts offense doesn’t only look to Peyton to throw the ball, but has a running game as well that the Bears are going to need to defend to a “T.” Rookie Joseph Addai totaled 1,081 yards rushing for seven touchdowns.
One advantage the Bears had to look forward to is that Manning bruised his right thumb late in the American Football Conference championship game against the New England Patriots.
Reggie Wayne, wide receiver, said, “I noticed nothing wrong with Manning’s thumb at practice. I’m sure if he had to cut the thumb off to play, he’d do it.”
These two teams were not only excited to go play on the gridiron, but to be in the atmosphere. Cornerback of the Bears, Charles “Peanut” Tillman, said, “You see all the Super Bowl XLI stickers and we get to the hotel and we have all the fans and media here – it’s actually starting to sink in that I’m in the Super Bowl, that the Bears are in the Super Bowl.”
This game shows to be a battle of offense and defense and in the end the famous sports quote can be thought of. “Offense wins games, defense wins championships.” Bears’ fans hope this holds true, while Colts’ fan would like to prove it wrong.
After all was said and done on the rainy night in Miami, this quote was as wrong it could ever be. This game simply came down to Manning and Grossman’s specialty: offense. But in a 29-17 Bears loss, running the offense didn’t look to be Grossman’s specialty.
Grossman didn’t perform all that bad, going 20 of 28 for 165 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown. Looking at the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player, Manning, he went 25 of 38 for 247 yards with one interception and one touchdown.
In every offensive category the Colts earned the better numbers. The Colts had a total of 24 first downs compared to the Bears 11, but where the Colts truly blew the Bears out of their den was with their 430 total yards where the Bears only manufactured 265 yards. Much of these yards were due to running back Dominic Rhodes who came off the bench with 113 yards and one touchdown and Addai who had 143 yards.
Manning and his team did not only go against the odds and beat Brady and the Patriots, but now they have reason to change the quote to “Defense wins games, offense wins championships.”