They will match
wits from the instant the referee spots the ball.
PLAY CLOCK :30
Sometimes the Colts
will huddle, sometimes not. In either case offensive coordinator Tom Moore
dictates instructions into Manning's helmet by radio. Bears defensive
coordinator Ron Rivera, in a box above the field, calls the formation into the
headset of linebackers coach Bob Babich on the sideline. Babich uses hand
signals to relay the call to Urlacher. "They always take too long,"
says Urlacher, laughing. "I'm on the field, yelling at Coach Babich,
'What's the call!'"
Once the teams come
to the line, the complexity lies more in the guessing game--the last-second
adjustments and counters--than in the multiplicity of formations. The Colts
will line up with Manning in shotgun or under center, and either Joseph Addai
or Dominic Rhodes in the backfield. There will be three or four wideouts. The
Bears will usually start in their 4--3, deploying two safeties deep in a Cover
Two look. "Neither the Bears' defense or the Colts' offense is real
complicated," says quarterback Drew Brees, whose New Orleans Saints lost to
Chicago 39--14 in the NFC Championship Game. "They don't run a lot of
formations. But they both have a lot of confidence in what they do."
PLAY CLOCK :15
Manning begins a
series of movements that are now familiar to even the most casual fan: pointing
out the safeties, pumping his right leg, leaning over and shouting to the
offensive linemen. What is he doing? Sometimes he's calling the play. Sometimes
he's changing it. "Sometimes," says Urlacher, "he's just screwing
around with us."
often jumps into the A gap, right over the center. "That's so he can listen
to the quarterback and make you think he's going to blitz," explains
"He leans in so he's right in your face, and you start to audible and then
he starts to audible, except you're not really sure if he's audibling or not.
It's pretty intense, although it's more intense at Soldier Field, with the
crowd noise. That won't be a factor in Miami."
PLAY CLOCK :10
By now Manning has
seen the Bears' defensive alignment and is adjusting his call accordingly. The
Colts players shift. It's Urlacher's turn to act. "The key for us is to
hold our alignment until Peyton is finished with his acrobatics and then go
into our own movements," Rivera says. "And that's all on Brian."
Rivera snatches a video controller off his desktop on the second floor of Halas
Hall, the Bears' training facility in Lake Forest, Ill. "Here's what Brian
does for us," he says, cuing up two plays on the wall-sized screen, both
from Chicago's win over the Seahawks.