Monday, February 05, 2007

Indianapolis Colt Blogs Reaction to Victory [J. Mark English]

From Stampede Blue:

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.
  • 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.

I’m not going to lie.

At first, I was afraid. I was petrified.

Kept thinkin’ I could never live without you by my side.

Wait…I didn’t mean to start singing here. But the fat lady’s singing loud Colts fans. The Indianapolis Colts have won Super Bowl XVI.

Man it feels good to write that.

Honestly, what were you thinking when Devin Hester was tackled scoring that first touchdown?

What were you thinking when Peyton Manning, the game’s MVP, threw his first and only interception?

I can take a guess. You were probably thinking the same thing you were when the 2001 Colts were getting hammered 41-0 in New York against the Jets. You were probably thinking the same thing you were when Manning was getting literally snowed off the field at Gillette Stadium in back-to-back years against the New England Patriots. You were probably thinking the same thing that you were at halftime of the Colts last two home playoff games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pats, respectively.

You were thinking that maybe this was just never going to happen, that the Colts would never get their “Super Bowl validation,” whatever that means.

I know I was. Well…that, and I was thinking of the Florida – Ohio State National Championship game this past year.

Good thing we were all wrong.

From the time they were down 14-6, the Colts did what they did against New England in the second half and against other teams all year – they simply outplayed the Chicago Bears.

Bears fans and Rex Grossman haters will tell you that Sexy Rexy lost this game. False.

First of all, the Indianapolis Colts absolutely won this game. And if the Bears are looking for blame, they should look to their defense. They should look at the fumbles they had (yes, Grossman had one). They shouldn’t, however, look to special teams.

But the magic number here, folks, is 38:04. Thirty-eight minutes and four seconds the Colts held the ball. Had you given that number to a Bears fan before the game, there’s no strong argument that even the most bias Chicago fan could give you as far as who was going to win that game.

The Bears defense, which carried the team throughout most of the season, failed to carry out their game plan, which was to keep Manning off the field.

And Manning, as he seems to always do, made them pay.

The Colts entered this postseason as the antithesis of historically successful teams– a finesse team with an offense based on timing, whose defense couldn’t stop the run. And the Colts left the playoffs as champions, first and foremost, and as a physical team that outmanned their opponent on both sides of the ball.

But this one goes out to Bill Polian, who has suffered through three of these losses before and who has literally built this team from the ground up, opting to use the draft as his cinderblocks.

This one goes out to Jim Irsay, who stuck with the Colts and stuck with Tony Dungy and Polian and Manning; who kept the Colts in Indy instead of moving to Los Angeles.

This one goes out to Dungy, who is finally on top of the mountain and has solidified the role of black coaches and the Christian faith in football.

This one goes out to Manning, who didn’t have his best game, but didn’t need to either; who has worked harder, won more games, and thrown more prolifically than any other quarterback since coming into the league; who has been told, time and time again, that he will never win the big one.

And last, but certainly not least, this goes out to Kelvin Hayden, Bob Sanders, Dwight Freeney and the rest of that so-called ‘maligned’ defense. After taking the regular season off, they stepped up when they had to. You can’t mention what Manning and Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai did in this game behind that offensive line without mentioning the excellent play of the defense, not only in this game, but throughout the postseason.

It was truly a team win.

I’ve thought for a long time that the city of Indianapolis was cursed, and that they would go longer than any other city without winning either an NFL or an NBA title.

I was wrong. And for the first time, I’m glad I was wrong.

Aren’t you?

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