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2006 Playoffs, Super Bowl XLI: Colts 29-Bears 17

Photo: AP
This is my last game recap of the 2006 season. My next recap will be for the first pre-season game of the 2007 season, when the Colts take their first step to defending their title. Like most of you, I'm still in a state of shock. I'm wearing my blue Colts winter hat indoors. I plan to wear it all day, all week. Heck, I might wear it all month. I'll wear it until it really, truly sinks in.

The Colts are the best team in the NFL.

This is the end of one thing and the beginning of something else, something totally new and refreshing for all of us. All of the silly "yeah, buts" that people tagged on Peyton Manning, Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison, Jim Irsay, and Bill Polian are long gone. In place of these are discussions about the legacies of these men and this team. It is almost weird to describe this team as champions, not because they don't deserve it (Indy dominated Chicago), but because for so long it has been a constant fight to legitimize this team in the eyes of others. I could write a book (and maybe I will) on this Super Bowl, and how it and this playoff run exorcized so many ghosts and demons that have haunted this franchise for years. Instead, I'll do what I always like to do... bullet the keys to the game:

  • We all remember the silly, ignorant comments that the Colts couldn't win a big game in bad weather? That they weren't tough? That they were finesse? The finesse one was always my favorite. Joe Montana won 3 Super Bowls running an offense that defined "finesse," yet no one dared call him or his offense that. The Colts in this Super Bowl dominated Chicago's defense up front. Jeff Saturday, Tarik Glenn, and the o-line blew the Bears off the line time and time again. Tank Johnson's name was barely called. Alex Brown wasn't much of a factor. Heck, even Urlacher was neutralized. Jeff Saturday is the best center in pro football now, and the o-line bullied Chicago all game.
  • The combo of Addai and Rhodes was amazing. They really should have been co-MVPs, and not Manning. Manning certainly had a good game, but those two killed the Bears all night. They ran for 191 yards and a TD, averaging 4.5 a run. Addai and Rhodes are better than Edgerrin James, and have done more in the playoffs than Edge ever did.
  • The defense for this team elevated itself into elite status. This defense dominated several very potent offenses during the playoff run. Other than Thomas Jones' first quarter 50-plus yard run, the Bears offense did nothing. They could not block Freeney and the pass rush. They couldn't run with consistency. Berrian did not catch a pass. They flew to the ball, made bone-crushing hits (like Giordano's hit on Desmond Clark on 4th down), and got turnovers. Ron Meeks and Tony Dungy did a tremendous job preparing this defense for the Super Bowl. At one point in the mid-third quarter, Chicago had a grand total of five first downs. The Colts defense was stellar.
  • Photo: AP
  • Despite rain and wind, Peyton Manning was his normal self: dominant. Dorks, morons, and general idiots will say his stats were unimpressive (25-38, 247, 1 TD, 1 INT). It's amazing how Manning sets the bar so high. In the Super Bowl against the Rams, Tom Brady was 16-27 for 145 yards and 1 TD. Yet, Brady won the MVP of the game and no one really questioned it. All that aside, Manning was a machine from the second quarter on. He had trouble adjusting to the weather in the first quarter. After that, he moved the ball at will. Chicago played a base Cover 2 shell, refusing to allow a big play and daring the Colts to throw underneath and run. The Colts did just that. When the Bears did bring heat, Manning burned them on a 53-yard TD to Reggie Wayne. The Bears hardly ever blitzed again.

When we all look back on this game, we will remember how the Colts dominated the team that was supposed to be the more physical team, the team better suited to win in bad weather. Indy won by running the football and attacking Chicago up front. They adjusted to the weather and conducted themselves as a unit, a team. As a fan, I am so proud; proud of how this team handles itself on and off the field. I was almost choked up seeing Dungy hold up that trophy. I smiled when Manning held it up. His expression was like a big "F You" to all that criticized him.

As always, whenever my Colts match up against a team blogged by someone like WCG over at Windy City Gridiron, it is bitter sweet. I don't like seeing good fans like WCG in misery. WCG does a helluva job blogging. The Bears put up a good fight. Lovie Smith is a great coach. They will be back to the Super Bowl soon. Write it down.

I will have more on the Super Bowl, and a recap of the playoffs in general. In the meantime, savor this. Love this. Enjoy it. Indy is a champ.

Our Colts are winners.

Update [2007-2-5 12:35:27 by BigBlueShoe]: You will recall that way back on January 5, 2007, I predicted the Colts would win it all. I don't like to toot my own horn too much, and I have intentially avoided bringing this prediction up until after the Super Bowl, but it went a little something like this:

The Colts will beat the Chiefs, and then they will play their next playoff game in Baltimore for the first time since the Baltimore fans abandoned the Colts, thus prompting them for Indy. The Colts will then beat the Ravens, and then square off in the AFC Championship game against... the Patriots. Yes folks. The Patriots will beat the heavily favored San Diego Chargers, and they will face the Colts in the AFC Championship Game in Indianapolis. The Colts will beat New England (again), and thus make the Super Bowl. A road through the AFC like this is storybook: Beleaguered run defense against Larry Johnson; Colts in Baltimore for the playoffs; Colts against Patriots in AFC Championship Game. In one swoop, all playoff demons get exorcized. The Colts will then face the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl, a team Peyton Manning's father once played for. Drew Brees is an Indiana legend, having played his college ball at Purdue. That's the road to the Super Bowl.
I don't like to toot my own horn, but DAMNIT I WAS RIGHT, BEEYATCH! I did not get the Colts' opponent in the Super Bowl correct, but everything else was spot on. I had no logic to my prediction. It was based on blind homerism and a "feeling" that this year was different.