Looking Back on Super Bowl XLI

Report Card Looking Back on Super Bowl XLI

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Today, I’ve chosen to do something that I have never, ever done for a Super Bowl.  Sit at home and watch it alone.  My fiancé has no interest in the game and I have no interest in being at a crowded pub or party which really goes against the grain for me.  Normally I crave the crowd.  But not today.
 
I want to take in all of what CBS has to offer.  I want to channel surf when I want to without relinquishing control of the remote.  I don’t want to hear music unless of course the music is on my TV.
 
And what do you know, there’s Stevie Nicks.
 
Why is she on that stage?  What’s the relevance?
 
Stand back.  Hmm, not feeling it.  Where’s that remote?
 
REMEMBERING SWEETNESS AND PIC
 
What I did feel was yet another great story from Armen Keteyian.
 
Chicago lost two warriors far too early during the storied history of the Bears – Walter Payton and Brian Piccolo.  Both of these gridiron competitors were inspirational men and their children are clearly carrying their respective torches.
 
Walter’s son Jarrett eloquently explained, “When God said He wanted a football player, He saw my dad and chiseled him into life.”  And what a complete player Walter Payton was yet upon his retirement being the selfless person that he was said, “Love me for who I am and not what I’ve done.”  And considering this statement in light of all that he had done makes it all that much easier to do exactly what Payton requested.
 
Payton fought for the inner city youth. Jarrett Payton described his dad’s compassion for children with ability but without opportunity.  He took it upon himself to provide that opportunity.  Jarrett and his sister are continuing the mission.
 
Brian Piccolo’s daughter Traci remains active in the Piccolo Foundation which helps to fund cancer research.  Traci explained that there’s no better gift that she could receive than to hear others emphatically state that, “I’m alive because of your Dad.”
 
PRIDE
 
“There are 10 games this season that I’ve been so proud of.  But there are five games that I’d like to have back.”  By the time you read this you will know which column Rex Grossman has added to.
 
HINES’ HERITAGE
 
Say what you want about Hines Ward and how you might despise him wearing the Steelers’ colors but a few things are certain about the Pittsburgh receiver: 1) Ward is tough; 2) He’s an outstanding receiver; 3) He is someone that you want on your team; and 4) He certainly humbled himself before us all when describing how he faced his insecurities and admitting his shortcomings as a youth and as a son.  Clearly he’s made up for them with his charitable donations and spirited way of embracing his heritage.  Personally as a fan, I will never look at Hines Ward the same again.
 
OTHER PREGAME OBSERVATIONS
 
* I’m not much into hip hop but I’ve gotta say, I was digging Kanye West’s hip hop tribute to the Bears.
 
* I wish Bill Cowher had had a conversation with Brian Billick prior to the Ravens v. Colts.  Now granted, Cowher was stating the obvious, throw early and often against the Colts while they sit in the single high coverage with Bob Sanders down in the box.  You knew, I knew, Cowher knows it but apparently the Ravens didn’t and it still has me wondering what the Ravens did during the two weeks offensively prior to that Divisional Playoff Game on January 13.
 
* Sunny South Florida Gloria? That was a joke right?
 
* I enjoy Cirque du Soleil live but it’s better in a tent. 
  
* (6:15) Urlacher’s interview with Solomon Wilcots is interrupted by technical glitches. Off to a rather flat start.  I’m getting my stopwatch ready for Billy Joel.  Wonder what it’s like to play piano with slippery keys.  Joel done in 1:34.  That was a rather uninspired performance there Piano Man.
 
* How many of you thought about what it might have sounded like when Joel got to the “Oh say does that star spangled…” if the Ravens were in this thing?  How many of you would have been worried about the rain?
 
* Ten straight coin toss wins by the NFC.  If the Ravens were there…I know, I know…but if they were, I’m happy to be on defense first…LET’S PLAY BALL!
 
BY THE QUARTERS
 
* After one it’s 14-6 Chicago.  A quarter marked by 3 touchdowns, an opening kickoff return by Devin Hester covering 92 yards, 4 turnovers and a botched extra point in rainy conditions.  Manning looks a bit shaky aided in large part by a blown coverage assignment by the Bears’ secondary.  Bob Sanders delivers a huge hit on Cedric Benson forcing a fumble and Alex Brown shows great anticipation to force a fumble immediately after the exchange between Addai and Manning.  Colts appear to dominate time of possession.
 
* Vinatieri opens the scoring in the second quarter moving the Colts to within 5.  Bears struggle on their opening series in the second quarter, looking very much like the Ravens against the Colts.  Bears should consider play action early in the series.  Steady rain continues as the momentum has swung towards the Colts.  Bears are beginning to look tired as the Colts take the lead 16-14 with 6:09 left in the second quarter.  Bears keep the ball for barely 2 minutes and give it back to the Colts with 3:57 left in the second.  Huge turnover on the Fletcher fumble caused by Tillman only to give it back immediately after Grossman’s fumble  on the exchange from center. 
 
Heading into halftime with Prince the Colts lead it 16-14 as Vinatieri misses the 36 yard field goal.  Six turnovers in the half, three by each team.  Colts have the ball 19:54 in the first half, out gaining the Bears 257 yards to 95, 14 first downs to 3.  Manning finishes with 193 yards passing by half while Grossman has 32 yards passing.
 
* I’ve said it many times before and I suppose it bears repeating, while I respect the opinions of others who know more about music than me, I don’t get Prince.  But wasn’t Purple Rain so appropriate for the Ravens?
 
* The rain continues in Q3 and the Colts have the ball.  The Bears need a stop to break the momentum.  The Colts convert a third and 8 at 12:03 of the third and now have a first and 10 at the Bears 38.  Joseph Addai is killing the Bears on the ground and on short passes.  With 7:30 left Vinatieri sets up for a 24 yard FG attempt and he lines it through to make the score 19-14.  Bears are fortunate to be down by only 5.  The Colts at this point in the game have held the ball for 27:30 to the Bears 10:06.  Colts have 18 first downs to the Bears 3 and Indy has 318 net yards to the Bears 95.  The last time the Bears had the ball, Grossman fumbled the snap.  They take over after the kickoff at their own 32 with 7:21 to go in the third. 
 
The Bears start with two consecutive completions to move inside Colts territory.  Grossman is sacked on second and one and then on third and 12 he fumbles the snap again.  Bears punt holding the ball less than 2 minutes.  
 
Colts take over and keep it on the ground.  Now it’s Dominic Rhodes.  Still plenty of time but this one is over should the Colts score a touchdown.  Big play with 3rd and goal for the Colts at the 10.  Rhodes to the 2 and the Colts send out Vinatieri.  Vinatieri is hit after the play after the successful FG and the score is now 22-14.  Up to this point in the game the Colts have run 63 plays to 23 for the Bears.
 
The Colts continue to kick short and away from Devin Hester.  Aided by a personal foul on the Colts on a late hit out of bounds and two Thomas Jones’ runs, the Bears are on the Colts 29.  Facing a third and seven, Grossman is nearly picked off.  Robbie Gould nails a 44 yarder to cut the lead to 22-17 with 1:14 to go in the third.
 
On the Colts ensuing possession, they face a third and two and convert it with an 8 yard pass to Reggie Wayne.  That’s now 8 of 15 third down conversions to end the third quarter.
 
* The Colts start the fourth quarter from their own 48, first and 10.  After a penalty and a couple of runs the Colts face a third and eight at midfield.  The Bears force the punt and the Bears take over at their own 20 after the touchback. 
 
On first down Thomas Jones breaks off a 12 yard run but it’s called back for holding.  Rain continues.  Grossman connects on a big pass to Mushin Muhammad for 21 yards and then throws a horrendous interception after a double move when it appeared that Muhammad had Kelvin Hayden beat.  Hayden takes it in for the score and the Colts go up 29-17.
 
The Bears take over at their own 20 and move it to their 40.  The Bears go on top to Bernard Berrian and Grossman’s pass is underthrown and picked off by Bob Sanders.  Bears hold and force the Colts to punt from the Bears 40.  Bears to take over at their 8.  Feeling here is that there’s a greater chance for another turnover than a successful drive.
 
Rain continues to fall with 7:30 to go in the game.  Bears go to no huddle offense.  Bears move the chains twice with 6 minutes left first and ten at their own 46.  After an incomplete pass and a couple of dump off passed to Thomas Jones the Bears face a fourth and 9 from their own 47.  Grossman is playing the way most Bears supporters feared he might.  Pass intended for Desmond Clark broken up by Colts Safety Giordano.  Colts take over on downs.
 
Colts are running down the clock and are on their way to Indianapolis’ first Super Bowl title.  Dominic Rhodes goes over 100 yards.  Not a bad performance by a man playing for new contract. Two minute warning.
 
Teams exchange possessions and the Bears run out the clock with a pass to Desmond Clark.
 
Colts win Super Bowl XLI 29-17.
 
Some standout final stats:
 
Stat
Colts
Bears
Time of Possession
38:04
21:56
No. of Plays
81
48
Net Yards
430
265
Turnovers
3
5
First Downs
24
11
 
FINAL THOUGHTS
 
* Tonight feels a bit like when I was a kid and it was the last night before the start of a school year.  There’s a long wait before we watch meaningful football games again.  A long, long wait.
 
* It’s going to be a long offseason for Rex Grossman.  Rex Grossman is no Kyle Boller but he sure does remind me of him in ways.
 
* The Bears really missed Tommie Harris.
 
* The rain bothered me.  I would have like to have seen the game played under dry conditions.  I bet there are thousands that went to the game who wished they had not shelled out the many Benjamins to get a seat in the rain.  Next year’s game will be dry.  It’s in Phoenix.
 
* Peyton Manning deserved the MVP I suppose but if they had given it to Rhodes or Addai, it would not have been a shocker.
 
* The Colts did what many thought the Bears would do.  They attacked with the Addai-Rhodes one-two punch and produced 191 yards on 42 carries.  The Bears couldn’t get the ball.  The Colts kept it away from them and the Bears could never establish the run, probably the most important thing for the Bears to do in order to win the game.  That aside, Thomas Jones had the quietest 112 yards of rushing perhaps in all of Super Bowl history.
 
* There were no standout commercials aired during Super Bowl XLI.  For my money the best of a weak lot were: Izod, Bud Light “What Would Carlos Do?”, Bud Light "Language Course" and Bud Light "Rock, Paper, Scissors."

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and CBS Sports 1300. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, Guinness, Orange Crushes and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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