Grossman: 'I think we like that role'

You can call Rex Grossman anything you want. Just remember that you also have to call him the first quarterback to lead the Bears to the Super Bowl in 21 years. And in his world, that's the only thing that truly matters. Grossman spoke with the media on Thursday at Halas Hall, and Bear Report was there to hear what he had to say.

Quarterback Rex Grossman fought his way through one of the more up-and-down seasons for an NFL signal-caller in recent memory, but he was still able to get the Bears to the Super Bowl.

Grossman has directed his team to a 15-3 record, yet some feel he is still the biggest chink in the Bears' suit of armor.

He started all 16 regular season games and is the first Bear to do so since Erik Kramer in 1995, but he was nearly benched in favor of Brian Griese in Week 14 at St. Louis.

The former Gator threw for more yards (3,193) and more touchdowns (23) than any Bear in more than a decade, however, much more was made of the dubious numbers he accumulated - 25 turnovers and five games with a passer rating under 40.

Grossman has answered his critics in the playoffs even though the stat sheet may not necessarily tell the whole story. He was just 11-of-26 through the air against New Orleans in the NFC championship game, but he completed his last six passes and was not sacked or intercepted. Grossman was better the week before in the divisional round versus Seattle, throwing for 282 yards and setting up the game-winning field goal in overtime with a gorgeous 30-yard completion to Rashied Davis on 3rd-and-10.

The trouble is, now he has to face the team he cheered for growing up in Bloomington, IN.

"The Colts were my team growing up," Grossman said on Thursday in the auditorium at Halas Hall.

Grossman was Mr. Football as a prepster in the state of Indiana before playing collegiately at the University of Florida, but his roots in the Hoosier state can also be directly linked to the Colts organization.

"The only thing that really stands out is my grandfather played fullback for the Baltimore Colts," he said. "And the fact that I grew up 45 minutes south of Indianapolis and went to a lot of games."

Indy is currently listed as a 7-point favorite and boasts a roster full of stars. Peyton-Manning-to-Marvin-Harrison is the most prolific quarterback-to-receiver touchdown combination in NFL history, and rookie Joseph Addai has combined with veteran Dominic Rhodes to fill the void left by Pro Bowl tailback Edgerrin James when he left for Arizona via free agency. Defensively, Dwight Freeney might be the best pure pass-rusher in all of football.

The Bears seem to have few believers in the national press even though they've had the best record in the NFC since Week 1, but Grossman doesn't have any problem with that.

"I think we like that role," he said. "We know the Colts are a great team, and they've had a great season. But we're going to have great practices and prepare as hard as we can and go out there and play hard, tough, smart football. I think any time you're in the underdog role, you're that much more intense and focused and out for respect."

The Saints rolled into Soldier Field last Sunday with the No. 1 offense in the NFL, and although Drew Brees threw for 354 yards and Reggie Bush scored on an incredible 88-yard catch-and-run, the Monsters of the Midway held New Orleans to 14 points, forced four turnovers, and registered three sacks. The Bears, on the other hand, set a franchise playoff record with 196 yards rushing and made enough plays in the passing game to get the job done.

As usual, Manning leads one of the more explosive offenses in the league, accounting for 379.4 total yards and scoring 26.7 points per game. Harrison is an All-Pro once again, and fellow wideout Reggie Wayne set career-highs with 86 catches and 1,310 yards. The Colts scored 38 against the Patriots in a 455-yard effort in the AFC championship game last Sunday, so the Bears will once again have their hands full on defense.

Grossman knows that Manning & Company will garner most of the offensive headlines down in Miami, but he won't feel any added pressure to light up the scoreboard.

"We faced similar questions going into the Saints game," he remembered, "and the response was, ‘We're going to run our offense.' We're going to do what we do to the best of our ability as we have all year and not worry about the other side of the ball."

Grossman may have grown up a Colts fan, but he didn't necessarily worship Manning.

"I was a senior in high school his rookie year," he said, "and I was just focusing on what I was doing."

So did he ever own a Manning jersey?

"No."

JC


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