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Talk pro football with SI.com's Andrew Perloff in Huddle Up, a forum to discuss the hottest topics around the NFL.
2/05/2007 01:39:00 AM

Manning's assault on NFL history

Manning
Peyton Manning was named the MVP of Super Bowl XLI.
Damian Strohmeyer/SI

Will Peyton Manning go down as the greatest quarterback of all time?

Sounds like a slightly odd question right now, but it won't be in 10 years when he retires as the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. Especially if this wasn't his last Super Bowl victory.

After nine seasons, Manning has 37,586 passing yards and 275 touchdowns. Dan Marino's records of 61,361 yards and 420 touchdowns (both of which could be passed by Brett Favre next season) are not that far off.

I think the 30-year old Manning has at least nine more productive seasons left. Like Marino, Manning rarely gets hit, so he should stay fairly healthy. And I just can't see Manning retiring until he absolutely has to. Like Favre, Manning seems addicted to the game.

The two quarterbacks most often mentioned in the "greatest ever" debate are Joe Montana and Johnnie Unitas. Marino, Otto Graham, Sammy Baugh and Terry Bradshaw aren't far behind and Tom Brady will soon be on the list.

Manning's numbers are in a different league then Unitas's and Montana's -- it's a different era -- but Manning may never match those legends' postseason success. The Colts didn't exactly breeze through the AFC playoffs this year and they face a tough road to Super Bowl XLII. The Pats appear poised to spend money this offseason and other AFC teams like San Diego and Cincinnati look dangerous. On top of that, the Colts could lose key players to free agency.

If Manning never wins another Super Bowl, he'll go down in the all-time top 10. If he wins another ring, he's top three. More than two? Maybe the best ever.

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2/04/2007 09:58:00 PM

Manning deserves MVP

I thought before the game Peyton Manning would have to have a sub-par game for him not to win MVP. He's become such a focal point for the Colts. This Super Bowl has been about him more than any player, so people wanted him to win. Manning, who completed 25 of 38 passes for 247 yards, one touchdown and one interception, actually deserves the award this year.

Here are five reasons I'd vote for him:

1. Once he got the first couple of drives out of his system, he was able to avoid costly mistakes despite the tough weather conditions.
2. On the few occasions the Bears did get pressure, Manning stuck in the pocket until the last possible second and still made plays.
3. Manning was outstanding at keeping drives going, which wore down the Bears' defense. 4. Manning was great with the tempo. Calling quick plays before the defense could get set caused problems for Chicago.
5. The other strong offensive candidates, running backs Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai cancel each other out, although Rhodes has a shot.
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2/04/2007 09:31:00 PM

The end is near

It's over. The Bears are not built to come from behind in the fourth quarter and Peyton Manning isn't making any more mistakes.

Five mid-fourth-quarter observations:

1. Bad Rex has officially arrived. The Kelvin Hayden interception was classic Grossman trying to make a play that wasn't there.
2. Lovie Smith was right to challenge the Hayden run-back. He was one blade of grass away from being out.
3. Who is Kelvin Hayden?
4. Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai have hurt each other's chances of winning the MVP trophy, but they have been terrific as a tandem.
5. Thomas Jones has guaranteed some team is going to renegotiate his contract. He's due $2.25 million next year.
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2/04/2007 09:13:00 PM

Lack of pressure the Bears' problem

There's no question the Bears' secondary has issues. Even in this weather, they've had to give the Colts' receivers too much extra space. But the real failure of Chicago's defense has been its inability to sack Peyton Manning.

When Tommie Harris was healthy the defense looked as good as the 1985 version of the Bears. This game should put to rest any lingering comparisons between the two teams. They're just not getting enough push up the middle to disrupt Manning and give their ends chances to get sacks.

And of course, a big part of the problem is Manning and his ability to make defenses pay for blitzing. I honestly don't know what Chicago can do to change the tide. The Colts will continue with this ball-control passing attack and chew up too much time.

The only chance the Bears have now is forcing turnovers. On a night like tonight, actually that might not be too bad.

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2/04/2007 08:50:00 PM

Bears about to break

First five opinions of the third quarter:

1. You really have to credit the Bears' defense for their red-zone defense. I don't think they can keep it up though, if they let Indy chew up so much time with the ball. They're going to break.
2. Did anyone notice how hard Brian Urlacher is breathing?
3. The Bears went 56 minutes (much of which was halftime) without running a real offensive play. I know they wanted to minimize how much Rex Grossman had to do, but that's a bit much.
4. The first thing the Colts said about Joseph Addai when he came to minicamp was how surprised they were at his pass-catching skills. He had 40 catches this season. He already has 10 tonight, one short of tying the Super Bowl record.
5. It's becoming clear the weather is not getting to Peyton Manning. No surprise since he grew up and went to college in temperate climates like this.

Let me know what you think in the Comments section.
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2/04/2007 08:24:00 PM

Eight fearless predictions for the second half

Tina Turner was great at halftime, but let's get back to the action.

Here's Eight Fearless Predictions for the Second Half:

1. Peyton Manning will win the Super Bowl MVP.
2. The Bears' defense will wear down and the Colts will start to have success running the ball. Look for Joseph Addai, who has 38 yards at half, to reach the century mark.
3. Marvin Harrison will catch his first touchdown this postseason.
4. Rex Grossman will throw two interceptions in the second half. He'll also complete at least one bomb.
5. Adam Vinatieri will not miss another field goal today. The 36-yarder before the end of the half was just too easy.
6. Devin Hester will put one more scare into the Colts.
7. Someone will get a sack before the final whistle.
8. This Super Bowl will be remembered for two things: Manning gets the monkey off his back and the turnovers. Easily the messiest big game yet.

Add your thoughts in the comments section.
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2/04/2007 08:03:00 PM

May already be too late for Bears

The Bears had their chance early and didn't take advantage. They needed to build a two-touchdown lead and slow the tempo of the game. It might already be too late. Chicago's defense can't stop Indy and Peyton Manning won't have the same kind of mistakes in the second half. In-game prediction: Colts 33, Bears 24.

Five halftime opinions:

1. The most important stat of the game: Indy has had the ball for 19:56, Chicago 10:04.
2. Indy's offense is probing the Bears' defense right now looking for weaknesses and it's finding a good number of them.
3. The Bears' offseason will be a lot more interesting if Cedric Benson's knee injury is serious. The common thinking was they'd trade Thomas Jones, who has just one year let on his contract, and Benson would be the primary guy.
4. Chicago, watch out for Dallas Clark in the second half.
5. I hope Prince does Raspberry Beret.
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2/04/2007 07:36:00 PM

Manning nearly untouchable

Mid-second-quarter observations:

1. Peyton Manning is already hard to sack, but when he starts scrambling effectively, forget about it.
2. If I'm the Bears, I'm wondering where my pass rush is.
3. If I'm the Bears, I'm not overly upset when Rex Grossman checks down with the short pass on third-and-long. I also wouldn't mind if Grossman lofted it 60 yards downfield in that spot, because an interception is as good as a punt in that spot.
4. Lovie, keep Devin Hester deep on kickoffs. At the very least, it makes the Colts very anxious.
5. Bob Sanders looks like he drank too much caffeine before the game.

Keep your insights on the game coming in the comments section.
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2/04/2007 07:19:00 PM

Here come the Colts

If I told you Rex Grossman would have a QB rating of 110.8 at the end of the first quarter and Peyton Manning would be at 65.5, you'd probably say the Bears are in good shape.

But the Bears better make their move now. Grossman won't stay perfect and Manning will get more comfortable. This game feels similar to the Colts' win over the Patriots. Chicago doesn't want to give Manning too many chances, because its defense will wear down.

One reason Bears fans should feel OK is that "Good Rex" made the trip down to Miami. He may not have hit the bomb yet, but he's not forcing plays.

I feel like a Colts run is coming as the second quarter opens up. It will be interesting to see if the Bears can take a couple of punches and stay aggressive.

And by the way, Wow! What a first quarter.
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2/04/2007 07:01:00 PM

Give Manning, Jones credit

Quick first-quarter observations:

1. Just when you think Peyton Manning looks like he's in trouble, he comes up with a big play. The touchdown to Reggie Wayne was very similar to his fourth-quarter pass to Bryan Fletcher against the Pats. I can't think of any QB who's better throwing off his back foot.
2. Tank Johnson couldn't quite get to Manning on the TD. Why do I have the feeling he will make a big play before the game is over?
3. Thomas Jones has been running with a purpose all postseason. I think the Bears will be downgrading when they put in Cedric Benson. If I were Lovie Smith, I'd use Jones as much as possible.
4. The Bears have to love these quick scores, but that means Manning will have the ball in his hands even more and Chicago's D will be on the field longer. This was not their gameplan.
5. It will be interesting to hear what the players say about the grip on the ball after the game. We're on pace for a dozen fumbles.
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2/04/2007 06:33:00 PM

For starters, Hester is unstoppable

Usually when a game-specific story dominates a Super Bowl week, it doesn't end up being a factor on Sunday.

Not this time. How many columns were written about Devin Hester? As much energy as the Colts must have put into stopping the Bears' amazing rookie, they clearly have no answer for him. Covering kickoffs and punts will be an issue for Indy all night and Hester jumps out as the very early MVP candidate -- he'd be the second returner to win it (Desmond Howard in Super Bowl XXXI).

And as I predicted, Peyton Manning looks jumpy early in the game, just like he has all postseason. I think he'll settle down, but the Bears may be able to turn to the run now and keep it out of his hands.

As I expected, Billy Joel was awful singing the National Anthem. I think I even saw Marlee Matlin wince.

Let me know your thoughts on the pregame festivities and the stunning start to Super Bowl XLI.

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2/04/2007 05:16:00 PM

Rain or shine, Colts win

Field
Dolphin Stadium workers cut the grass earlier in the day.
Nick Laham/Getty Images

We'll be huddling up from now until after the game, debating the Super Bowl issue of the moment throughout the night.

For Super Bowl XLI, you have to start with the weather. Things are clearing up but in South Florida, you never know. SI.com's Peter King says the conditions could actually hurt the Bears more than the Colts. The spread and the over/under are reportedly came down in sports books today -- although there's no guarantee that movement is because of the rain.

Unfortunately for the Bears, this isn't anything like the 1982 AFC Championship Game when the Dolphins let the field soak and forced the Jets' Richard Todd into throwing five picks. Dolphin Stadium apparently drains like a kitchen sink and the Colts' speed shouldn't be affected much. The cold is not Peyton Manning's friend, but a little water won't matter.

For the Bears to win, they had better get to Manning quickly. The Colts quarterback has started out games erratically in the postseason and might have one or two nervous interceptions in him. But he'll get better as the night goes on.

If Chicago falls behind, expect disaster to follow shortly. Indy's defense would love to pin its ears backs and chase Rex Grossman in passing situations.

The first seven minutes will go a long way in deciding the winner. I'm sticking with the Colts winning on an Adam Vinatieri field goal. Only because Vinatieri has obviously sold his soul to the devil.

Your turn: let me know if you think the conditions could affect the game and who you like in Super Bowl XLI.

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