Indianapolis 26, Chicago 20
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This year's Super Bowl was rich in underlying stories. Peyton Manning makes his Super Bowl debut after nine stellar seasons in the league. His counterpart on the Bears Rex Grossman only gets credit for his inconsistency an shaky decision making, as opposed to the fact that he has lead his team to the sport's biggest game. However, while Manning and Grossman played close to expectations, two of the game's younger players stole the headlines – for very different reasons.
Playing the role of goat, third-year wideout Bernard Berrian, who had a breakout season as the Bears' primary deep threat, coughed up the ball near goal line in the game's most crucial and dramatic moment. Trailing, 26-20 with 57 seconds remaining and just after converting a 4th-and-9 to keep the drive and championship hopes alive, Grossman hit Berrian as he raced down the sideline toward the endzone for the potential go-ahead score. Colts' safety Bob Sanders, who is generally given credit for the team's defensive resurgence during the playoffs, had the angle on Berrian and popped the ball out of his hands just before the endzone. Sanders, the AFC Championship game savior, jumped on the loose ball on the one-yard line. Ballgame.
Playing the role of hero throughout the game, Joseph Addai took a handoff on the next play out of the endzone for thirteen yards to seal the game. It was the rookie Addai who had helped the Colts to the lead with two touchdowns and 122 total yards. After a Thomas Jones seven-yard scamper put the Bears up 7-0 and the playoff specialist Adam Vinatieri hit a 46 yard field goal to make the score 7-3 midway through the second quarter, Addai took a simple screen pass to the house from 45 yards out. Vinatieri hit another field goal and then Addai extended the lead with a two yard plunge into the endzone toward the end of the second quarter. Robbie Gould booted a 41 yard field goal as time expired in the first half to make the score 20-10 at halftime. The teams traded field goals in the third quarter before Jones scored another TD to close the game to 23-20. Then, with 8:13 remaining in the game, Peyton Manning went to work on the clock. The Colts kept the clock running to put together an 11-play, 6:17 drive that culminated in a 40 yard field goal and six-point Colt lead. It was enough – barely.
A 29 yard Devin Hester kickoff return and 17 yard conversion on 4th-and-9 put the Bears in striking distance, but they still needed a touchdown. Bernard Berrian's gaffe on Sanders' great play prevented any hopes the team had of that happening. Manning finished the game 23-36 with 302 yards, one touchdown and one interception and Vinatieri connected on all four of his field goals, giving him a record twelve in three games. Both deferred to Addai for Super Bowl MVP honors.
Player of the Game: Joseph Addai (122 total yards, 2 TDs)
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