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Running game key for Bears


The Chicago Bears certainly aren't ignoring the fact the Indianapolis Colts have played some impressive run defense during the postseason.

How could the Bears not notice the way the Colts stuffed Kansas City's Larry Johnson or the way they smothered Baltimore's Jamal Lewis?

At the same time, the Bears certainly haven't overlooked the fact the Colts allowed the most rushing yards in the NFL during the regular season. And when they study the Colts, they see a smallish (at least by NFL standards) defensive front that relies more on speed than muscle.

If the Colts succeed in stopping the run, it is usually because their defenders, who are constantly shuffled, are positioned in the right spot and are able to swarm to the ball. If they don't, it is usually because the opponent has used its advantage in size and strength to plow open holes and stuck to that approach for the entire game.

The Colts are facing such an opponent in the Chicago Bears.

"We are a running football team," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "We get off the plane running the ball. ... We're blue collar. We play a certain way. We rely on hard-nosed defense. We like playing in the elements. We like running the football, and all those good things that when you think Chicago Bears football, you think of."

The "elements" shouldn't much of a concern in Super Bowl XLI. The temperature should be somewhere in the 70s by kickoff on Feb. 4 at Dolphin Stadium.

Still, the Bears figure to do plenty of running. Their quarterback, Rex Grossman, and their receivers are capable of generating big plays, but Chicago does not seek to win through the air. The offensive philosophy of Smith and offensive coordinator Ron Turner is to run early and often, and take downfield shots when necessary.

Grossman's greatest contribution to the Bears' Super Bowl run was his ability to keep mistakes to a minimum in the playoffs. It was the Bears' ground attack that did the most to allow them to beat the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round and the New Orleans Saints in the NFC title game. Chicago's backfield duo of Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson has rushed for a combined 294 yards and five touchdowns in the postseason (189 yards and four touchdowns for Jones).

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