Ok, you all had to know this was coming.
And here we are. Today marks nine years to the day that the Colts defeated the Chicago Bears to win the franchise's second Super Bowl, and first in Indianapolis.
You all know the Colts path to that Super Bowl, we've gone down that road many times in Throwback Thursday. So we'll take a quick glance at the Bears before diving into the game itself.
Through their first five games, the Bears were 5-0, and had won all but one of those games by double digits. They team rode the defense, the return game of rookie Devin Hester, and (don't laugh) the arm of Rex Grossman.
Then, in Week 6, the Bears traveled to the desert to take on the Cardinals. The Bears would win the game courtesy of some late game heroics from the defense and Hester. Yes, it was the game where we found out that the Bears are who we thought they were.
The Bears wouldn't lose until getting blown out at home against the Dolphins in Week 9. In all, the Bears would finish 13-3 and claimed the top seed in the NFC.
There were questions, though surrounding Grossman. Against the Packers in Week 17, Grossman threw four interceptions, bringing his season total to 20, and posting a QB rating of 0.
In the divisional playoffs, the Bears squeaked out an overtime win over the Seattle Seahawks, who had themselves barely advanced past the Wild Card round.
The NFC Championship pitted the Bears against the second seeded Saints. The Bears proceeded to blow away New Orleans to the tune of a 39-14 romp. The win ensured that Lovie Smith would be the first African American head coach to reach the Super Bowl. Tony Dungy would become the second a few hours later when the Colts defeated the Patriots.
And this brings us to the big game: Super Bowl XLI. The Super Bowl was hosted in Miami, which to this day is the only city the Colts have played a Super Bowl in.
When comparing the overall statistics between the Colts and Bears, there were some interesting numbers that popped out. For one, during the season, the Colts and Bears averaged the exact same amount of points per game (26.7). The Colts featured one of the best offenses in the yards per play category, while the Bears featured one of the worst. The opposite was true on the defensive side of the ball.
And since this article is about the Super Bowl, I feel obligated to go a bit overboard on the recap.
We all remember that the halftime show featured Prince, but many forget (I think) that Billy Joel performed the National Anthem becoming the second, and I believe only, performer to do the Anthem twice for the Super Bowl.
What others remember very, very well was the rain. It was the first, and only, time that it has rained during the Super Bowl. The forecast leading up to the game maintained it would rain. On the Colts' America's Game, Peyton Manning said for the entire week leading up to the game, he insisted it would not rain. However, the Colts were prepared for rain, as it had been forecasted for their game in Baltimore as well.
The Bears won the coin toss and elected to receive. In the playoffs, teams had (understandably) been kicking away from Hester. The Colts kicked at him.
For me, this is the most memorable play of this Super Bowl. That's because, oddly enough, it was the one play I didn't see live. We were on our way to a friend's house to watch the game, and were running late courtesy of getting stopped by a train. Listening to Hester run the ball back on the first play was surreal. A definite "did that just happen?" moment. I'm sure it was the same feeling to those of you who saw it on TV or who were lucky enough to be at the game.
The return also marked the second time Adam Vinatieri had a kick-off returned for a touchdown in the Super Bowl, the first being his rookie season in New England when Desmond Howard ran back the kick from 99 yards. I don't have a stat on this, but I would wager Vinatieri is the only kicker to have two kicks returned in the Super Bowl.
The Bears now led 7-0 for the fastest score in Super Bowl history. A record that would be broken against another Manning led team.
The Colts proceeded to do nothing with the ball after Manning threw an interception on the drive. However, disaster was averted as the defense forced a three and out, getting the ball back for Manning and the offense.
This time, Manning found Reggie Wayne on a 53 yard strike off of a blown coverage by the Bears secondary. However, Hunter Smith fumbled the snap on the extra point, preserving the Bears lead at that time.
Chicago responded with a touchdown drive of their own after the teams traded turnovers. After a long run from Thomas Jones, Grossman found receiver Muhsin Muhammad for a two yard score, extending the Bears lead to 14-6.
Following some more turnover action, the Colts were able to move into field goal range, where Vinatieri hit a 29 yard kick, making the score 14-9.
After forcing anther Bears punt, the Colts relied on a mix of pass and run plays to move deep into Chicago territory. This time, Dominic Rhodes found the end zone from a yard out, giving the Colts a 16-14 lead, a lead they would not relinquish.
To start the second half, the Colts were able to add to their lead with another Vinatieri field goal, making it 19-14. After forcing another Chicago punt, the Colts had a chance to put the Bears completely away. However, the Bears defense stood tall, stopping the Colts on the two-yard line. Vinatieri would convert another field goal, giving the good guys a 22-14 lead.
After a good kick return off of the Smith squib, and a penalty added on, the Bears began their next drive at the Colts 40 yard line. The Colts defense would only yield a field goal, though, as the Bears cut into the lead 22-17.
The Colts could do nothing with the ball on their next possession, punting it back to Chicago at the start of the fourth quarter.
However, four plays into this drive, Grossman was intercepted by Kelvin Hayden who turned out a masterful interception return, giving the Colts a commanding 29-17 lead.
Fact: Teams returning an interception for a touchdown in the Super Bowl and undefeated. So if that happens this Sunday, just turn your TV off, you will know the winner.
On the Bears ensuing possession, Grossman was again intercepted, this time by Bob Sanders.
The Colts killed some clock, and the teams traded punts, but the game was in effect over.
The Colts were Super Bowl champions!
The defense held the Bears to 265 total yards, and forced five turnovers. The offense was led by a punishing rushing attack led by Rhodes and Joseph Addai who combined for 191 yards. Manning, the MVP, tallied 247 passing yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Some could argue (and I would) that Rhodes should have been the MVP. However, Manning being awarded the MVP was more a career culmination rather than how he fared during the game. Kind of like Return of the King winning every Academy Award after the first two movies won none.
The Bears have not returned to the Super Bowl since this game, although they reached the NFC Title Game in the 2010 season, where they lost to eventual champion Green Bay.
The Colts would advance to the Super Bowl (again in Miami) in 2009. I've done my best to forget that game, so I won't go into that here.
This Sunday, Manning will make what is likely his final start in the NFL in what will be his fourth Super Bowl. With a win, it is almost for sure that the legend will retire. He would then be the second Broncos QB to retire following a Super Bowl win.
While the Colts may be sitting at home this year, I don't think I'm alone in saying that it will be a tremendous amount of fun seeing Manning take the field for one final Super Bowl.