So Super Bowl XLI came and went, and was probably one of the worst NFL championship games ever played. On a rain-soaked Miami night, the Bears and Colts bumbled their way back and forth for 60 minutes until the team that sucked less was crowned champion. Bears fans were universally excited about the weather forecast– theirs is a team that thrives on playing in the harsh climates of Chicago, whereas their opponent was one that plays in a dome and has traditionally stunk it up when playing in bad weather. Unfortunately, tradition was to be damned, and it was the Bears who treated the football like a hot potato for most of the game.
But you can read the various recaps on your own. Here we will now return to my pre-game predictions and see how they played out. The following list will consist of the oft-repeated claims made by the media in the weeks prior to the game that I deemed to be preposterous, followed by my statement on their veracity, then my corresponding prediction for the game, with a brief analysis. We’ll keep score along the way and see who knows more about football in general: me or the media.
- Preposterous claim: The Colts have too many weapons on offense.
This one was indeed not a true indicator of the Colts’ performance on Sunday. Peyton Manning was mediocre at best, and the vaunted receiving corps of the Colts was largely held in check. It turns out that the only weapon the Colts’ offense needed was the one that was probably least suspected of being their key to success: their running game. Media: 0
- My prediction: The Colts will not score more than 25 points.
This almost held true. The Colts’ offense did not, in fact, score more than 25 points (they scored 22). Their team put up 29 total, however, thanks to a Calvin Hayden pick-6 in the fourth quarter that served as the nail in the Bears’ coffin. I get half a point for this. Me: 0.5
- Preposterous claim: Peyton Manning will shut up the people who say he can’t win the big game.
This one turned out to be correct, and the media’s love affair with Manning is now guaranteed to continue for several more years. To add insult to injury, Sir Peyton was inexplicably given the game’s MVP honor, as if it was a foregone conclusion that if the Colts won it was going to him. Media: 1
- My prediction: Peyton Manning will not throw for over 300 yards, and will have at most 2 touchdown passes.
I was right on the money with this one. Manning was 25/38 for 247 yards, with only 1 touchdown pass and 1 interception. Me: 1
- Preposterous claim: Rex Grossman is a terrible quarterback.
I suppose I really have to face the facts that this might be true. It was certainly true Sunday night. And while it is still true that Rex played 14 good games this year (all of their victories, minus the Arizona debacle on Monday night), it is also true that when he plays poorly, he plays really poorly, and is the Bears’ worst impediment to winning. Despite decent stats (20/28, 165 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT), the brunt of the blame for this loss falls squarely on Grossman’s shoulders. Aside from the two interceptions, he also fumbled the ball twice (both recovered by the Colts) on sloppy exchanges from center. When your quarterback turns the ball over that much, it’s almost impossible to win. Media: 1
- My prediction: Rex Grossman will not turn the ball over more than once, and will throw at least one touchdown pass.
As just mentioned, I was horribly off on the turnover prediction. I was predicting a Bears win, and for that to have happened Grossman turning the ball over as much as he did was not an option. He did throw one touchdown pass, though. Me: 0.5
- Preposterous claim: The Bears’ defense is overrated. / These aren’t the 85 Bears.
Despite the fact that most of the media still wishes to deny the Bears’ defense the credit they deserve, the truth of the matter is that they played a hell of a game. For a defense to be on the field for over 38 minutes of a football game and only allow the NFL’s best offense to score 22 points is a remarkable feat. They were a bit weak against the run, and the Colts were able to exploit that fact, and yet the Bears were still very much in the game until Hayden’s 4th quarter interception of Grossman, thanks to their defense. Media: 0
- My prediction: The Bears will force at least 2 turnovers. Brian Urlacher will make 10 tackles.
The Bears, in fact, forced 3 turnovers, and Brian Urlacher made 10 tackles. The defense as a whole played as well as could have been expected, and gave their offense ample opportunities to win the game. Me: 1
- Preposterous claim: The Bears have no offense.
While I still dispute this claim in general as it pertains to the 2006 Chicago Bears, it was certainly true last night. If we’re not going to give the Colts’ offense credit for the touchdown their defense scored, then we can’t give the Bears’ offense credit for the touchdown their special teams scored, either. That means that the Bears’ offense put up a whopping 10 points total. It was as if when Cedric Benson got hurt they just gave up, which makes little to no sense when you consider that he is not the focus of their offense by any means, and is largely used to keep Thomas Jones fresh. When your quarterback can’t complete any passes of any significance, though, you become a one-dimensional offensive team, and no matter how deficient the opposition’s defense is, they’re going to be able to contain you. Media: 1
- My prediction: The Bears will score at least 30 points.
This one I was off on by a long shot. I thought the Bears would be able to move the ball against the Colts’ defense, combining the one-two punch of Jones and Benson with some big pass plays down the field to open things up. None of this occurred, though, and the Bears looked downright anemic on offense for most of the game. Me: 0
I guess I didn’t have this game figured out as much as I thought I did. Then again, neither did anybody else. When the weather gets sloppy, so does the play, and in the end it’s the team with the most poise that will overcome that sloppiness. In this case it came down to a battle between Peyton Manning and Rex Grossman, and the latter was outshined and outclassed last night. Maybe with some more experience under his belt–all indications are that Grossman will continue to be the Bears’ starter in 2007, and he’ll be in a contract year, which typically bodes well for a QB’s performance–Rex will have another chance to play in a championship game and show what he’s really capable of. For now, though, I’ve got a really sour taste in my mouth, and can’t believe I’m going to have to see even more of Peyton Manning on TV than I already do.