Well, Peyton Manning finally got the monkey off his back and silenced his critics. On Sunday, Feb. 4, the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Chicago Bears 29-17 to win Super Bowl XLI, and Manning was finally awarded his long-awaited Super Bowl ring.
Nothing could stop Manning and the Colts from winning a title this season. Not the Patriots, who defeated the Colts on the way to Super Bowl XXXIX in 2004, and not former Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt, who missed a last-second field goal to knock the Colts out of the playoffs last season. Not only did Manning and the Colts finally win, but Manning was also voted this year's Super Bowl MVP.
Manning was good, but not great in the game, completing 25 of 38 passes for 247 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Thanks to Indy's running game and the strength of their defense, a good performance was all the Colts needed from Manning.
Running backs Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai combined for 190 rushing yards and a touchdown against Chicago's stout defense. Not to be outdone, Indy's defense came up big with two key second-half interceptions and a touchdown return to put the game away.
Without a doubt, the steady rain throughout the game led to Chicago's struggles, as their offense lost three fumbles and fumbled multiple snaps. Chicago return specialist Devin Hester gave Indy a scare when he scored on the game's opening kickoff, but Colts coach Tony Dungy soon learned to keep the ball away from Hester, and the Bears offense was lackluster for the rest of the game.
Dungy and Manning both have good reasons to celebrate. Throughout his career, Manning has drawn comparisons to Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, a great player who could never win the big game. After his playoff struggles the past few years, people began to say Manning would never win the big game, but he has finally proven them wrong.
Now Manning has something Marino never had: a Super Bowl Championship. For the players who really care about football, winning is all that matters. The giant contracts and the NFL records are nothing compared to that elusive Vince Lombardi trophy, and now Manning has finally won it all.