Super Bowl 2007 XLI: Indianapolis Colts vs. Chicago Bears
6:50 a.m. — It’s ten minutes before seven on the granddaddy of American holidays, and I’m not going to be sleeping anymore, but it’s still ten and a half hours before kickoff, so why not put my nervous energy into something cliché — like, say, live-blogging Super Bowl 2007 for the benefit of posterity and foreigners? Amy says, “Have fun.”
7:00 a.m. — It’s nine degrees below zero here in Racine, Wisconsin, which works out to -23°C. Yesterday we were walking around in downtown Milwaukee when it was 13 degrees warmer, and my face was stinging after any more than one consecutive minute outdoors. This is dangerously cold weather. If you go out, you have to dress for the possibility of car trouble. I’m glad we’re staying home tonight. Meanwhile, I heard on WBBM that people in Lake Zurich are without electricity.
7:48 a.m. — I come to this Super Bowl Sunday like a Lutheran to mass. Half the time, I don’t even watch the game. A few years, I’ve been lucky enough to be in Hawaii with better things to do. When I have watched, it has rarely lived up to the hype. I’ve been a Chicago Bears fan since birth. My dad attended games at Wrigley Field, and as a kid I idolized Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers. Still, I don’t own a single item of Bears clothing or other merchandise. I have bought an order of chicken wings only once in my life, reconfirming my impression that they are the least desirable piece of the bird. (Gimme a bucket of thighs!) I drink bargain red wine, not beer. I don’t gamble except for two Powerball tickets each week. But I have followed every Bears game for as long as I can remember, and I’m fully committed to this Super Bowl.
8:15 a.m. — My boss, radio legend Steve Dahl, is attending the big game today with his three sons, Patrick, Michael, and Matt. Their seats are in Section 445, Row 21. Steve has also been covering the buildup in Florida for the Chicago Tribune, and I see he filed once again late yesterday afternoon. Ha — “poncho boy” is obsessing about the Miami weather forecast.
9:00 a.m. — We’re watching CBS News Sunday Morning and enjoying some delicious homemade turkey soup, the byproduct of last week’s roast turkey. We have yet to give any thought to our sumptuous Super Bowl spread. I had thought about Cuban sandwiches, but I don’t think there’s any chance of us marinating and roasting that pork today. Traditionally, NFL fans have been known to eat food representing the opponents, but the Bears are playing the Indianapolis Colts and I’m not interested in trying horse meat. I could go for a Chicago-style hot dog. Tommy’s has decent ones, so maybe we’ll pick up a couple for lunch. Early this morning, I heard a piece on WBBM offering advice on not doubling your body mass through Super Bowl gorging. One of the tips was to position the snack chips so that you’ll have to get up and walk to another room if you want to consume more than six or so. Yes, ours is a refined and sophisticated culture.
9:46 a.m. — Face the Nation is devoted to the Super Bowl today, with guests Jim Nantz, Dan Marino, and Phil Simms joining host Bob Schieffer. Simms says Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is “a leader of men” and “the boss, father of the household.” This sort of ridiculous veneration is exactly why I’ll turn off the TV audio today and listen instead to Tom Thayer and Jeff Joniak on WBBM 780. Having spent a little time with Tom Thayer in person and a lot of time listening to him on the air, it just wouldn’t be a Bears game without his astute analysis and natural enthusiasm, and Joniak is all right too. Both of them are coming up at 10:30 on NBC5’s Bears Game Day Live.
10:36 a.m. — Amy is lobbying for Indian food. We watched Food Trip with Todd English yesterday, and he was in New York sampling the “ubiquitous dumpling.” Among these was the Indian samosa, which we have enjoyed on a couple of previous Super Bowl Sundays at Udupi Palace in Schaumburg, Illinois after driving my sister to O’Hare. This year, Maria has been back in Ohio for two weeks and Schaumburg is too far to drive even for that great food, but Amy’s sister Marianne saw something about a new Indian restaurant here in Racine. Ah, here it is in a Journal Times story: Sher-a-Punjab on Douglas Avenue near the airport. Indian food is warming and spicy, easy to handle, and not too heavy. It looks like we will be carrying out some Super Bowl samosas and curry this afternoon.
11:57 a.m. — Anyone who hasn’t yet should grab the free MP3 of “Bear Down, Chicago Bears” by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and read the song’s history at the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. I was happy to also find a version for my MySpace profile. The Chicago media do a lot of reporting on the inability of some people to remember the words, but they’re really not that difficult. If you key on the phrase “make every play,” the rest follows naturally.
12:25 p.m. — Five hours before kickoff now, and watching the pre-pregame coverage on CBS, I’m not sure the Bears are even in this year’s Super Bowl. I’m seeing a lot of stories about teams and players who will not be playing today, peppered with the occasional foot worship of Peyton Manning. I’m reminded of Mike Downey’s piece in the Tribune Friday quoting former Colts and Saints coach Jim Mora: “This is Peyton Manning’s ninth full season! This is Rex Grossman‘s first full season! Give him a break!” I agree that the Bears’ running game is very important today, but from a satisfaction standpoint, it would be really great to see Rex connect for several touchdowns today.
2:55 p.m. — We’re back from our rations run with wine, Indian food, and Chicago dogs. It’s actually not that cold outside compared to, say, liquid nitrogen. The carry-out from Sher-a-Punjab looks and smells like the real thing. We’ll oven-warm it during the game and investigate further at that time. The hot dogs, from Tommy’s, are the Red Hot Chicago variety, and they hit the spot. My tongue is burning a little from the sport peppers. I wonder what it is about these particular peppers that makes them so suited for sports. Listening to WBBM, I learned that Rex Grossman indulges at least two superstitions: He wears a navy blue wristband on his left elbow, and he eats at Olive Garden every Friday night, which seems weird because Olive Garden is only about 10 minutes from here, and I wouldn’t think he would drive all that way.
3:46 p.m. — Amy is thinking she likes new, messier look of Katie Couric‘s hair. I’m thinking I’m a trendsetter. Earlier we saw Stevie Nicks singing “Stand Back” backed by Waddy Wachtel and Amy commented that Stevie’s hair looked very damaged. She did not remark on Waddy’s. Speaking of celebrities, the Scripps Howard Celebrity Super Bowl Poll is interesting for the line it draws. I’m happy to find myself on the opposite side from Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Carrot Top, and Bill O’Reilly, and aligned instead with Paul Newman, Al Franken, and Ian McShane.
4:25 p.m. — One hour to go. I don’t have a score prediction, but I do know what I would like to see. First of all, I would like to see the Bears either lose the toss or elect to kick. I want Peyton Manning to see the Bears’ defense up close ASAP, and let Rex Grossman chill for a few extra minutes. I would like to see what I saw at times against New Orleans — a growing sense of cruel toying, like the way a cat toys with a mouse. It starts with a tipped pass, then a near sack, and pretty soon the ball comes loose and the opposing quarterback looks pained and it escalates from there. That is Bears football at its best. As I said earlier, in addition to a strong running game, I would also like to see Rex Grossmen throw three or four or five touchdown passes to Muhsin Muhammad and Bernard Berrian. I am expecting a Bears win, but I am hoping for a rout.
5:10 p.m. — The Colts come out of the tunnel to the tune of “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Do they really want to set themselves up like that? The Bears come out to the cheering of the stadium. The sideline interview with Brian Urlacher goes unheard, either because of technical difficulties, or because his sheer power crushes the signal. This is a good omen.
5:17 p.m. — Billy Joel’s version of our national anthem is refreshingly straightforward and unfestooned. It has started to rain, another good omen.
5:24 p.m. — The Bears win the toss and elect to receive. Okay, now I’m beginning to get a little nervous. However, as Tom Thayer points out, the Bears are 8-0 this year when they win the toss, so maybe it’s not so bad after all.
5:28 p.m. — Devin Hester runs the opening kickoff all the way back for a touchdown. The coin toss is no longer bothering me. Plus, Rex Grossman still gets chill time and Peyton Manning has to come out and face the pumped-up Bears now.
5:35 p.m. — The Colts’ first drive produces two false-start penalties and a Chris Harris interception. Even I never dreamt the cat-and-mouse cruelty would start this fast.
5:48 p.m. — Things have evened out a bit, as they had to. Rex Grossman’s drive was not impressive, Peyton Manning has been able to nibble at the edges and then hit Reggie Wayne for a 53-yard touchdown. WBBM-AM reports that Brian Urlacher is furious with Daniel Manning for blowing his coverage.
5:55 p.m. — That’s better! After a blown extra point, turnovers by each team, and a stunning 52-year run by Thomas Jones, I get my first, wished-for Rex Grossman touchdown pass to Muhsin Muhammad. Bears, 14-6. Did I mention the effective run?
6:09 p.m. — Cedric Benson and John Tait are both hurt after having getting rolled on by giant Colts defenders. Injuries are the aspect of football that really makes you avert your eyes, as the NFL has apparently been doing for its most of its history. This reminds me that Jerry Kramer’s Web site is the Internet headquarters for the Gridiron Greats Auction, where everyone has a chance through February 13 to bid on items like Mike Ditka’s 1975 NFC Championship ring and help out former players in need.
6:15 p.m. — End of the first quarter, Bears 14, Colts 6.
6:22 p.m. — The Colts are held to a field goal, and still trail 14-9.
6:32 p.m. — Our TV view is really hazy because of the rain on the camera lens. Amy calls it the “Doris Day effect.” If I just bought an HDTV and got this picture, I would be sort of agitated right now. Luckily, I’m still watching a 25-inch Phillips tube TV.
6:35 p.m. — With 6:09 left in the half, the Colts score again and take the lead 16-14. I’m blaming Dave and Oprah. 6:48 p.m. — I’m really glad I don’t have to hear what Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are saying right now, with two minutes left in the first half. The smugness on their faces is loud enough.
6:50 p.m. — With 1:18 left in the half, the teams have yet again traded turnovers. The rain is relentless, this is one heck of a messy, bruising game, and the Colts are slugging just a little harder and a little smarter than the Bears. Halftime will be well spent on recovery and adjustment.
6:56 p.m. — The Colts miss a field goal, so it remains a two-point game as we pop the Indian food from Sher-a-Punjab into the oven and enjoy His Purple Majesty.
7:00 p.m. — We got two orders of Samosas ($1.50 each), two orders of Vegetable Pakoras ($3.00 each), an order of Lamb Curry ($7.95), an order of Chicken Tikka Masala ($7.95), and two breads: Onion Kulcha ($2.50) and Keema Naan ($3.00). Our Indian Super Bowl feast totalled $32.00.
7:18 p.m. — Prince rocked. Yeah, maybe his hips are hurting — Amy noted that he did no splits — but the guy sure can play guitar and sing and squeeze an entire rock concert into about 12 minutes. I especially enjoyed the reworked version of Bob Dylan‘s “All Along the Watchtower” melding into the Foo Fighters‘ “Best of You.” The marching band was fine, but it’s already been done by Fleetwood Mac and OutKast, and there’s so much spectacle and so little time. Let’s hope no one’s getting the best of the Chicago Bears.
7:39 p.m. — This field goal works, and the Colts are up by five, 19-14. On WBBM, Tom Thayer is optimistic as always, and so am I. I gave up on the Bears once this year, with two minutes left in their game against the Arizona Cardinals. I will not repeat that mistake tonight. The Bears’ offense sometimes takes a while to put things together. Now would be a wonderful time.
7:47 p.m. — After a whistling pass to Thomas Jones for a first down, Rex Grossman slips around in the slop and falls on his butt twice and another Bear drive fizzles. Meanwhile, the Indian food is pretty good. We really do have a bona fide Indian restaurant in Racine, Wisconsin.
7:54 p.m. — Another red zone hold by the Bears’ defense, another Colts field goal. At 22-14, the game is far from out of reach. The offense only needs to grab it, as does Rex Grossman, who is suddenly having trouble with the snaps from veteran center Olin Kreutz. I may have missed it, but I don’t recall seeing Adrian Peterson run yet. They need the runs to work in order to open up the passing.
8:04 p.m. — Not this time. After a bad pass, then a bad scramble and a near interception, Robbie Gould comes in to pound a line-drive field goal home. Colts 22, Bears 17 — back inside a touchdown difference.
8:07 p.m. — Tony Dungy throws his second challenge flag, betting that Marvin Harrison got both feet down before he went out of bounds. It’s as close as calls get, but I don’t see the second foot touching down, and I certainly don’t see indisputable evidence that the original call was wrong. Still, it’s ruled a catch after review, blotting out another tiny shaft of light for the Bears.
8:13 p.m. — Tom Thayer is so great. He keeps telling the Bears, “Come on, boys!” as if they can hear him on the radio from Chicago. We’re starting the fourth quarter with a Colts first down and them up 22-17.
8:17 p.m. — Finally Peyton Manning gets hit! The Colts have to punt.
8:21 p.m. — A couple of great offensive gains are trashed after Rex Grossman throws an interception to Kelvin Hayden, who takes off for a 56-yard touchdown run down the sidelines, politely and nimbly excusing himself past a good many Bears. After a failed challenge and the extra point, it’s 29-17. When it rains, it pours.
8:30 p.m. — Déjà vu: Another couple of offensive gains, another long, underthrown Rex Grossman pass for another interception. I’m no keen student of the game, but I’m noticing that Peyton Manning is working most of this one by throwing shorter passes to the edges and gaining a first down here and a first down there. Like a sidling crab, he maneuvers his way to the red zone, and the Colts get at least three points each time. Meanwhile, the Bears seem to have forgotten the punishing Thomas Jones drive that got them to this game. Instead, after every couple of successful runs, they’re letting Rex go wild and get intercepted. It’s a shame because the Indianapolis defensive line is softening.
8:36 p.m. — So is the offensive line. Peyton Manning is finally sacked by Mark Anderson. This is a game of attrition, and there are more than seven minutes left to play.
8:45 p.m. — Desmond Clark can’t hold on, the Colts take over on downs with just over five minutes left. The first Colts celebration whoops are becoming audible.
8:50 p.m. — We’ve reached the two-minute warning, and the end of Jeff Joniak’s faith. He concedes that the Colts will be getting rings. Tom Thayer is quiet and sullen. I don’t see any way out of this, but there have been a couple of crazy games in the NFL this year, so who knows?
8:55 p.m. — Tom Thayer believes that Rex Grossman will grow immensely from his experiences this week. Happily, I don’t think Amy and I will grow immensely from the Indian food we bought, so the world is in perfect balance.
8:58 p.m. — It’s over — 29-17 the final score. Amy is sobbing on the sofa. She knows that we will face ridicule for months to come from the Packer fans across the street and the Packer fans at Farm and Fleet and the all the other Packer fans except the nice ones. On the bright side, the Bears still have a mision to accomplish before the team can be completely dismantled and sold for scrap as typically happens to world champions. Also, I no longer have to figure out how to preserve all this Bears video in my personal collection. (I will, however, save the Prince performance.) Overall, I did find this to be a Super Bowl worth watching. I think the game is always better outdoors than in a dome, and this one was a hard-fought battle between two teams that were somewhat evenly matched. The Colts played hard, Peyton Manning played well, and they all took advantage of the Bears’ numerous mistakes. It felt a lot more like a playoff game than the typical Super Bowl. Clearly astronaut Buzz Aldrin, swimmer Michael Phelps, and magicians Penn & Teller all know more about football than I do.
9:37 p.m. — On WBBM 780, Rex Grossman talks about how it feels to have come this far and lost: “I don’t know how to put it into words,” he says. “It sucks.”