Devin Hester returns the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI for a Touchdown (Photo courtesy of Zimbio)
They say that defense wins championships. The latest Super Bowl was supposed to put that old adage aside and usher in today’s “new NFL” where a wide open, high powered offense as the path to a champioship, pitting the league’s best offense against the top defense. With the Seahawks’ convincing victory, maybe we’ve jumped the gun in anointing offense as the path to a title.
Today marked the seven year anniversary of Super Bowl XLI, the last time the Chicago Bears reached the big game. After watching the Seattle Seahawks and their ferocious defense manhandle Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, I can’t help but think that the Bears missed their opportunity.
Have a look back on that fateful night (I know it’s not easy):
It’s hard to imagine a better start than Devin Hester staking the Bears to a 7-0 lead just 14 seconds into the game and then the Bears picking off Peyton Manning on the Colts’ first drive. After the first quarter, the Bears led 14-6. But a rain-soaked night fueled a sloppy, turnover filled night and the Bears ultimately couldn’t overcome Rex Grossman’s many miscues. Meanwhile, the Colts beat the Bears at their own game and used a power running game – and not Peyton’s passing – to beat the Bears.
The Bears entered Super Bowl XLI as one of the top defenses in the league while the Colts were one of the best offenses that season, led by one of the all-time greats in Peyton Manning. It turns out that Manning didn’t have to be Manning to beat the Bears, he just needed to be better than one of the worst quarterbacks to play in the Super Bowl, Rex Grossman.
I often wonder if it had not been a wet track, how that game might have gone differently. Had the Bears been able to stop the run and force Manning to throw, if they’d have been able to pull off a win. I wonder if Tommie Harris and Mike Brown been healthy, if the Bears defense would have had more in the tank to stop the Colts. I wonder if they had anyone – ANYONE – else at quarterback, what could have been.