Well, I would imagine after Devin Hester 's return in the first quarter gave the Bears a 7-0 lead, Peyton Manning's first thought was, "Here we go again." But he finally got the monkey off his back. People can't question now whether he can win the big game. He mastered the game like an opera conducter, orchestrating things to perfection against the Bears defense.
The Bears defense was never a factor in the game. In order for them to win, the Bears' defense had to hold the Colts under 30 minutes of possession for the game, but after the third quarter, they were already over 30 -- just a bad thing for the Bears.
Charlie Johnson, a rookie tackle who played a lot in the place of Ryan Diem, had a huge game. You can give credit to the Colts running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and Manning, but don't forget about a line that got the Colts about 200 yards on the ground.
We always say how important the QB is. I think today proved that. It was interesting that right before the beginning of the first half, when Adam Vinatieri missed the field goal, a lot of times that sort of thing turns the game. A miss could have sparked the Bears. Instead of rolling over when he missed, they went on a seven-minute drive and basically put the game away right there.
The Colts defense, which gave up more points than any other team that had previously won the Super Bowl, had a good game. They gave up one long run, and gave up a touchdown pass, but when they needed to stop them the Bears did. Bob Sanders ' and Kelvin Hayden's interceptions were very big plays. Hayden, ironically, grew up in Chicago.
Jim Irsay, the Colts owner, is one of the most underrated people in this league. It's good to see him win.
There was a lot of question of whether Nick Harper would play, but he played, and I thought he played well.
The Colts were the first team to lose three in december and win it all. They overcame a lot early in the game to come back and win. The kick return could have been crushing, and the missed opporunity on the extra point is the kind of thing that can hurt a team too, but Indy kept coming back.
Once again, it was a good game between two great teams, and I think the drive that started the second half essentially ended the game. That was a back-breaker for the Bears.