I feel stupid. No, not because I actually allowed the words "spectacular" and "Grossman" to find themselves in the same sentence last week. And not because I predicted a close and competitive game. Actually, I'm upset because of something I neglected to point out. In last week's Super Bowl preview, I listed three irrefutable truths and three X-factors. All of them were valid and right on the mark, but not one mentioned the single most important aspect of the game. However, I take solace in the fact I'm not the only misguided soul. Because it was (and continues to be) ignored by just about every national analyst due to the fact they're too busy breathlessly revising Peyton's place in the NFL history.
Look, I'm not here to rain on Manning's parade. Yes, his playoff numbers look eerily reminiscent of postseasons past (3 TDs, 7 picks... yikes!), but the only thing that matters is he finally delivered Ws in January and February. I'm even fine with him winning the MVP trophy. But you know what? The voters got it wrong.
Check out these numbers:
21 carries, 113 yds, 1 TD
19 carries, 77 yds, 10 receptions, 66 yds
If either RB X or RB Y were named Reggie Bush or LaDainian Tomlinson, don't you think they would have been handed the keys to the Cadillac instead of Manning? Of course, you know the mystery runners are Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai and that both walked away empty-handed. But that's okay, too. Because, as good as they were, they weren't the game's MVP either.
No, the Super Bowl MVP, or, more appropriately, MVPs, were the members of the Indianapolis offensive line. They were the ones opening massive holes for Rhodes and Addai to run through. They were the ones responsible for keeping Peyton upright in the pocket (just one sack allowed and that was arguably Peyton's fault for holding on to the ball too long), allowing Manning plenty of time to pick apart the Bears' defense. And this wasn't just a one-game fluke either. Three weeks ago, against a much more aggressive unit, Indy's undersized offensive line surrendered just one measly sack to Baltimore's top-ranked defense.
Hey, I'm not demanding a recount here. I recognize Peyton's part in reading defenses and quickly getting rid of the ball. But this Super Bowl (like pretty much every football game ever played in the history of man) was won in the trenches. And, for that, a ton of credit should be bestowed upon a Colts' O-Line that physically manhandled the Chicago front four. Sure, the game's grunt-men are always overlooked, especially when a player like Peyton is involved. But I should have seen this coming. And because of that glaring oversight, I'm feeling pretty sheepish today.
Now after heaping praise upon Indy's blockers, it should be noted that the Bears did not exactly go out of their way to apply a copious amount of pressure on Peyton. And while we'll never know what a blitz-happy scheme would have reaped, Chicago's strategy did seem to ignore the lessons of history. When New England and Pittsburgh unceremoniously dispatched the Colts in years past, the recipe called for a heavy dose of pressure in order to knock Manning out of his comfort zone, so it's hard to fathom why the Bears chose to go an alternative route. Yes, I understand Chicago usually relies on getting pressure from its front four and, yes, I realize the loss of Tommie Harris severely hindered their ability to do so. Still, I think it's a death wish to let Peyton comfortably pick your team apart. But hey, considering Chicago's leaky secondary, perhaps the game would have been even more lopsided had the Bears decided to bring the house with regularity.
Finally, I'd like to extend a personal invitation to all of my Chicago brothers and sisters out there. You see, botched snaps, erratic play, horrible decisions and atrocious mechanics from a starting quarterback is nothing new to H-town residents. So hop on the earliest flight to Houston and join us this Friday for our weekly "Why in God's name did he do that?!?" intervention.
During this two hour meeting, we'll discuss the merits of practicing patience versus cutting the cord, as well as offer insight into the age-old question, "He's got all the physical tools and seems like a nice enough guy, so why on earth do I end up feeling like Hannibal Lecter every time I watch him play???". Admission is free as are packets of valium and pepto bismol. And if you decide that you just can't bear the thought of bringing Sexy back, we'll be more than happy to send you home with a brand spanking new QB (just brimming with untapped potential!), all for the low, low price of a 2007 4th round draft choice. I dare you to find a better deal anywhere.