Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Bowl Post-Mortem: Rex sputters, Dungy shines

Was that the most lopsided 12-point victory you've ever seen?

After Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, before most of us could get our seats warm, were the Bears ever really in that game? Sure, the scoreboard says they were up 14-6 at the end of that sloppy, fumble-rific first quarter. And they were within a touchdown three minutes into the fourth quarter. But it never seemed like the Bears truly had a chance with their offense.

On the rare occasions when Chicago had the ball, they'd put the beginnings of a good drive together, racking up a few first downs with a nice run by Thomas Jones or a catch by Muhsin Muhammad. But then Rex Grossman found a way to #@$% it up. Either he treated the football like it was covered with turkey grease or just chucked the ball aimlessly down the field where two Colts defenders were waiting.

I'm wondering why Ron Turner didn't call more running plays for Jones. The Colts weren't stopping him, and it was the only way the Bears could move the ball down the field. Maybe Turner figured they couldn't win the game without some big plays from his quarterback. But when the guy's doing far more harm than good, don't you have to rethink your strategy?

Remind me again: How exactly did the Bears make it to the Super Bowl with Grossman at quarterback? And if he's sick of answering questions about his inconsistent performances, he should really think about trying to play better. Grossman's probably too young to give up on, but the Bears have to consider how long they can let him hold the rest of the team back.

The Colts were certainly beatable, especially at the beginning, when they looked extremely nervous. But by worrying so much about giving up the big play, the Chicago defense let Indianapolis grind out yardage with tough runs and short throws. And that allowed the offense to control the game once Peyton Manning settled down.

It was almost anti-climactic watching Manning and Tony Dungy accept the Vince Lombardi trophy. The "can't win the big one" talk was hushed after winning the AFC Championship. Finally! They got to the Super Bowl! The rest was affirmation, with quarterback and coach seeming more relieved than jubilant.

I wrote before that I wanted to see Manning win a championship, but as I watched the post-game celebration, I was happiest for Dungy. I'm sure the Vikings were thrilled to have him as defensive coordinator for four years, but he was long overdue for a head coaching job. And maybe he was screwed in Tampa Bay, but it's also possible that he just wasn't quite ready for that championship level yet.

But in Indianapolis, where he could trust that the offense was in good hands, Dungy could work that "Tampa Two" magic on the defense. It took long enough to wonder if he was just one of those guys who was never going to get that trophy. Plenty of other coaches are in that club. Of course, with his status as a coaching vanguard, Dungy may have placed additional pressure on himself. (Or hadn't you heard that he and Lovie Smith were the first two black head coaches in the Super Bowl?) But now, he doesn't have to worry about that anymore. Call it affirmation, call it culmination, call it celebration. The man definitely earned it.

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