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Colts to battle Bears in Super Bowl XLI

By Brian Beck
Assistant Sports Editor

On Feb. 4 at 6:30 p.m., the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears will meet in Miami to play for the NFL Championship in Super Bowl XLI.            

Peyton Manning will make his first-ever Super Bowl appearance as he leads the Colts and their AFC-leading offense to the big game after a narrow 38-34 victory Jan. 21.  Rex Grossman and the Bears’ NFL-leading defense will make their way to Miami after beating the Saints 39-14.

AFC/NFC Championship

On Jan.21, the Bears dominated the New Orleans Saints.  The Bears’ defense, after allowing a Saints touchdown in the second and third quarters, shut down the New Orleans offense.            

With a total of four turnovers on the day, the Bears cruised to victory.

In the second game of the day, the Colts edged the New England Patriots.                      

While New England jumped out to an early 21-3 lead behind a fumble return, a Corey Dillon run and an Asante Samuel interception return, the Colts didn’t give up.             

The Colts closed the second half with a field goal and came out with two quick touchdowns in the third quarter, tying the game at 21-21.

The Colts would go on to win the game on a quick drive, scoring with one minute left on the clock and sealing the victory with a Marlin Jackson interception.

What they will bring            

Manning is coming into the game with something to prove. Until this year, Manning has yet to lead the Colts to the Super Bowl.                 
After being in the NFL for nine years and being one of the most dominant quarterbacks in the game today, the only thing he has left to add onto his Hall of Fame resume is a Super Bowl Ring.

The Bears will bring their dominant defense to the game in hopes of shutting down Manning and the Colts.            

The 2006 Bears’ defense, led by All Pro linebacker Brian Urlacher,  has been compared to that of the 1985 Bears unit led by big names such as William “The Refrigerator” Perry and Mike Singletary.

Off-the-field

The game also has two off-the-field implications.                 

The first has been talked about constantly – Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy are the first ever African American coaches to make an appearance in the Super Bowl.            

In the last few years, the issue of there not being enough African American coaches has been raised by various NFL officials, media outlets and fans.

Secondly, Smith and Dungy are good friends, calling each other every Monday after a game.                  

Dungy and Smith go back a long way, with Smith having been the linebackers’ coach when Dungy led the Buccaneers.

For the Colts to win            

The key to the Colts on the offense isn’t Manning – it is the offensive line. The Bears will be bringing pressure in every way possible, and the line has to be able to pick up the blocks and give Manning the time he needs to throw, if he will be able to find a way to make the big play that will lead the Colts to victory.

On defense, the Colts need to focus on stopping the run. While Grossman has shown some flashes of brilliance, the Bears are a run-first team.             

If the Colts can manage to keep the running game in check and force the game into a shootout, they’ll run away with the game.

For the Bears to win

For the Bears on offense, they need to do everything they can to take the pressure off Grossman.             

For them to do this, they’ll need to get the running game going early against a defense that will be focused on stopping the run.

It has been shown at many points this season that the Colts can be beaten by a solid rushing attack – the Bears have to take advantage of that.             The NFL’s top defense is going to have its hands full with a star-studded Colts offense.

Shutting down the likes of Manning, Dominic Rhodes, Joseph Addai, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark is a difficult task for even the best defense in the NFL.                      

That, however, is exactly what needs to be done. If the Bears have to rely on a late comeback drive from Grossman, they’ve already lost.

Prediction            

In the end, Peyton Manning will manage to make a big play or two against the tough Bears defense.

The Bears will manage to keep the game close, though, and make a couple of big plays of their own.            

In a tight game like this, the team with the better defense, the Bears, will come out on top.

Look for the Bears to take home their first Super Bowl title in over 20 years with a 27-24 victory over the Colts.

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Updated: Wednesday, January 31, 2007
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