Thursday, February 22, 2007

Q's first Super Bowl

The first football game I can recall watching was Super Bowl XI, Vikings vs. Raiders. Thirty years later, Super Bowl XLI, Colts vs. Bears, is my boy's first game.

Let's do it again next year, Little Man.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Super Bowl XLI Play-by-Playlooza


It's back! Down and Distance presents it's annual look at every play, every ad, every inane comment by the announcers in the NFL's biggest game. It's the Super Bowl XLI Play-by-Playlooza.

The scene: Dolphin Stadium, Miami. Your hosts: CBS's Jim Nantz and Phil Simms.

With the amount of drugs coming through Miami each year, it was no surprise that the pregame "tribute to salsa music" came out like a tweaker's fever dream. I thought the Olympic Opening Ceremonies had set the bar for bizarre shit impossibly high, but then this spectacle cleared it without need of a running start. Drum lines dressed in football uniforms with pads. Inflatable alligators carried like dragons on Chinese New Year's. Grim dancers performing in the rain. The eyeless ghost of Tito Puente haunting the nightmares of children. Clive Barker has been to Walt Disney World, and this is what he saw.

The ultimate lesson of the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show (the one with the titty) was that if you have anything approaching current cultural significance, you have no business performing on this stage. Although hasn't that pretty much aways been true? Janet Jackson, whose nipple caused all the trouble in Houston in 2004, was desperately clinging to fame by her fingernails even before she took the stage. (That's not why she was wearing a tearaway smock, of course.) Anyway, since the scandal, the operative word in selecting performers for the Super Bowl has been "safe." Just look at the halftime entertainment. The first post-nipple halftime show was Paul McCartney; the second was the Rolling Stones. Think about that for a second. The Beatles and the Stones are essentially the foundation of the entire baby boomer existence. (Boomers will tell you today that Jimi Hendrix also belongs in there, but don't believe it. They didn't "get" him then any more than they do now.) Through the 1960s and into the '70s, there was no one on Earth bigger than Paul McCartney or Mick Jagger. And now they're blowing stockbokers for cash on national TV -- er, I mean, playing the Super Bowl halftime show. Their once-edgy songs about nailing black girls and dropping acid are now quaint little ditties. I Am The Walrus? No, You Are The Hired Help. Goo goo goo-joob. Which brings us to the man singing The Star-Spangled Banner at Super Bowl XLI: Billy Joel. Remember him? Used to be kind of an innovator? Helped keep rock 'n' roll alive through the bleak late-'70s? That guy? Well, someone with the same name is still performing. Billy Joel once sang a song called Piano Man and has since come to be called "The Piano Man." (Isn't it nice to get to pick your own nickname like that? Call me Admiral.) And sure enough, they wheeled a whole damn piano out onto the field so that Billy Joel could sit at it and play it rather than just sing the song like everyone else does. Because it's not about America, Billy Joel. It's about you. Anyway, he tickled the ivories and sang the song, emphasizing odd notes here and there. And I'm sure he'll be back in another 18 years. See, Billy Joel last sang the national anthem at the Super Bowl in 1989 (he was past relevance back then, too). The next year, Aaron Neville sang the anthem. And who sang it last year? Aaron Neville. In 2013, the time should be right for either Rick Astley or Hanson. Or maybe both!

Dan Marino, who holds all the NFL passing records that Peyton Manning will eventually break but who goes to bed every night without a Super Bowl ring, is on hand to flip the coin. So one of those two is going to go home after the game feeling even worse about himself. As the designated visitors, the Colts get to call the toss. Manning, fully acknowledging that he's had shit for postseason luck his entire career, wisely has Adam Vinatieri do it. Vinatieri calls tails, and it comes up heads. (Everyone knows Vinatieri can only call tosses in the second half, when the game's on the line.) The Bears elect to receive, and as the teams hustle back to the sidelines, the gambler's fallacy is in effect. Jim Nantz declares: "The odds are more than a thousand to one, but that's now 10 straight Super Bowls the NFC has won the coin toss." Well, no. Coming into the game, the NFC had won nine straight coin tosses. The odds that it would win this one, too, to make it 10 in a row were not "more than a thousand to one." They were 2-to-1, the same as with any other coin toss. Even if you win a coin toss a million times in a row, your odds on the next throw are still 2-to-1. Now, let's redefine the question. Go back 10 years. What are the odds that the NFC will win the next 10 coin tosses? That's a whole different bucket of tokens. Assuming a 50-50 chance on each coin toss, your chances of winning one toss are 1 in 2. Your odds of winning two in a row are 1 in 4; of winning three, 1 in 8, and so on. Your odds of winning 10 in a row are 1,024-to-1. Those were the odds 10 years ago. The odds today were 2-to-1. We haven't even started the game yet, and Nantz is already on my shit list. He tries to make it up to me with the observation that "it hasn't helped them, though: The AFC has won seven of the last nine" Super Bowls. But all that tells me is that he's into his filler material and it's only 6:25 p.m. See you in hell, Jim Nantz.

KICKOFF15:00As Adam Vinatieri tees up the ball, Phil Simms tells us that because everyone is so jumpy in a Super Bowl and so hopped-up on adrenaline, "it's always better to start out on defense," so maybe it was "a blessing" that the Colts lost the coin toss. The words are still hanging there like in a cartoon balloon when Chicago's Devin Hester takes the opening kickoff at his own 8. The Colts, who had likely spent the past week practicing staying in their lanes in kick coverage, now stay in their lanes far too long, and Hester blows right by them to take it to tha howse. Touchdown. As Hester preens for an end zone camera, I think to myself: Oh, I bet we haven't heard the last of him tonight! In fact, every time Hester goes back to take a kick for the rest of his career, I'm sure we'll have to hear about this. We see Peyton Manning taking off his cap with a disgusted flourish. It's on! Chicago 7, Indianapolis 0
KICKOFF 14:46Before the kick, we see Devin Hester seated on the sidelines. It seems he has pigtails. Well, if you can run like that, you can have pigtails. Terrence Wilkins takes the kickoff at the 2 and brings it back to the 30. Three Bears haul him down before Dante Wesley jumps on the pile late, then gets up and struts around. Because nobody dogpiles like Dante Wesley!
1-10-IND3014:39Rather than just tell us who's starting, CBS is doing this embarrassing superimposed-video thing where the players introduce themselves while pretending to walk toward the camera and folding their arms. Marvin Harrison doesn't fold his arms, though; I think he might even be CG. It's hard to explain, but it just makes me uncomfortable. It's both overproduced and hopelessly amateurish. Nantz starts talking about Manning in the second person. Manning's pass to Dallas Clark is tipped by Brian Urlacher and "almost intercepted" (not really).
2-10-IND3014:34Meet the Bears defense! Tank Johnson appears unarmed. Joseph Addai gains 14 yards on a draw play.
1-10-IND4414:08Time for the "Simms Spotlight." The Colts offense "won't be fooled," whatever that means, and the Bears defense needs to "get vertical," whatever that means. You know who else is getting vertical? Colts lineman Tarik Glenn, who jumps out of his stance early. False Start.
1-15-IND3913:52Pass incomplete to Harrison. Nantz says this one, too, is "almost intercepted" by Nathan Vasher, and this time he's right.
2-15-IND3913:467-yard pass to Addai. Simms starts up again with how it's imperative that the Colts not be fooled. He says the Bears fooled the Saints in the NFC Championship Game. No foolin'.
3-8-IND4613:13Jake Scott jumps. False Start. Fool!
3-13-IND4113:02F-F-F-Foolin'! The Bears bait Manning into throwing right into the teeth of the Cover 2. Interception by Chris Harris. It would have been great if the Colts had a coach who's familiar with the Cover 2, especially the Tampa 2 variation the Bears play, so Manning could have had some reps against it in practice.
AD!AD!Bud Light: A twentysomething gets the last beer by throwing a rock at another man's face. Just send them both to Iraq.
AD!AD!Doritos: A twentysomething gets into a car accident and a girl falls down in the street. So far we've had two ads in which three people get hurt.
AD!AD!Blockbuster: A rabbit and a guinea pig abuse a mouse. In voiceover, Alec Baldwin explains Blockbuster's new service. Apparently you can order movies online and exchange them at the store. You know, I was just thinking that the only problem with Netflix is that it doesn't give me the opportunity to be nickeled, dimed and demeaned by counter help the way Blockbuster does. Now we get the best of both worlds!
PROMO!PROMO!Katie Couric's going to start covering good news! Look at all these planes that landed safely!
1-10-CHI3512:486-yard pass to Bernard Berrian.
2-4-CHI4112:16Meet the Bears offense: Rex Grossman looks confused. Roberto Garza looks as embarrassed to be taking part in this sham as I feel watching it. Desmond Clark now goes by "Dess," apparently. Thomas Jones up the middle for 1 yard.
3-3-CHI4211:37The Colts defense is the last unit introduced. Cato June is the only one who does anything: He shows off his "guns." Tank Johnson wants to know why June got to bring his guns while he had to leave his at home. We try to explain to Tank that we're talking about arms. To which Tank says, well, I'm always armed, too. Grossman throws to a heavily covered Berrian. The ball bounces off Antoine Bethea's helmet. That's close enough to "almost intercepted" for me.
4-3-CHI4211:30As Brad Maynard punts, Nantz says really fast that there have been eight kick returns for touchdowns in Super Bowl history but no punt return TDs. That's one of things you're going to hear in every Super Bowl until someone does it. Kind of like how during every Steelers game you had to hear how Chris Gardocki never had a punt blocked, or how during every Tampa Bay game you have to hear about how the Bucs have never run a kickoff back for a touchdown. Nantz barely gets his cue card read before the ball rolls into the end zone for a touchback. And in barely a minute of game time, and not much more in real time, the Bears are three-and-out.
AD!AD!Sierra Mist Free: That guy from all those snarky-comment shows on VH1 can't disguise the fact that Diet Sprite by any other name is still Diet Sprite.
AD!AD! A scummy salesman gets leads off the Internet to impresses his boss, his coworkers and some woman with a skin problem
AD!AD!Sierra Mist: Same actors as in the Sierra Mist Free ad, plus Tracy Morgan. Everyone's in karate outfits, but, surprisingly, no one gets struck in the balls.
1-10-IND2011:20As we stumble back in from commercial, the rain is picking up. 7-yard run by Joseph Addai. Simms is talking about Peyton Manning not getting fooled again. By the way, the music that played when the Colts were introduced in the pregame? Won't Get Fooled Again Subtle.
2-3-IND2710:43Addai gets 1 yard before getting stood up by Brian Urlacher. I'll give Urlacher this: After he tackles a guy, he acts like he's done it before. When a cornerback makes an open-field tackle, it's suddenly Dancing With the Stars out there for the next 45 seconds.
3-2-IND2810:02Simms: "The one thing you don't want to do against the Colts is give up the big pass play." Or the small one: Marvin Harrison gets 7 yards and a first down.
1-10-IND359:346-yard pass to Addai.
2-5-IND409:00Addai up the middle for 1 yard. The boys in the booth were so busy talking about Manning's thumb that they're just now catching up to he action on the field. I just heard Simms say, "You taste your own blood."
3-4-IND418:196-yard pass to Dallas Clark.
1-10-IND477:45Addai stuffed.
2-10-IND477:02Ben Utecht drops a pass.
3-10-IND476:58Nantz asks whether on 3rd-and-long the Colts will try going underneath and "eschew the long ball." He actually says "eschew," and right after he says it, we hear Simms, genuinely befuddled, say, "What?" But then the play starts. Bears safety Chris Harris bites on a pump fake and is caught out of position when corner Charles Tillman releases Reggie Wayne to the deep zone. Wayne blows past both of them, and Manning hits him for a 53 yard touchdown, even though Tank Johnson is hanging onto Manning around the waist (and, probably, jamming a 9mm in his ribs). As Wayne dances in the end zone, Harris can be seen demanding an explanation -- or maybe just an extra game ticket -- from Tillman. On the PAT, Hunter Smith gets all Tony Romo with the snap and somehow it's all Adam Vinatieri's fault. You pay a kicker that kind of money, he's going to take those sorts of lumps, whether he deserves them or not. And Vegas shits itself over this play's implications for prop betting. Chicago 7, Indianapolis 6
AD!AD!Toyota Tundra: OK, according to this ad, this pickup can accelerate fast enough to make it through a pair of heavy doors that are closing at some completely arbitrary rate and can brake fast enough to avoid falling off the edge of a track that is some arbitrary length. Oh, and it's hanging over the lip of a canyon. The fine print tells us that this is a real stunt -- er, "actual demonstration." Who cares?
AD!AD!FedEx: Some company has an office on the moon and sends its packages via a FedEx spaceship that plays The Final Countdown. For some reason the moon has no gravity. One guy floats off into space and gets killed by a meteor. Ad tally so far: 3 serious injuries, 1 death.
AD!AD!Bud Light: Auctioneer speeds up a wedding so the guests can get down to the important business of drinking watery beer.
PROMO!PROMO!All-Star Amazing Race: We see four "celebrity" teams, and I dont recognize three of them. The fourth is "Rob and Amber," who have become "stars" by ... competing on shows like The Amazing Race. Come on.
KICKOFF6:50As we float back in from commercial, Nantz asks (for the first of many, many times) what the Colts are going to do about Devin Hester. Will they kick it to him? Get used to this question. They're still asking it about Dante Hall, like four years after the fact. Vinatieri squibs it to Gabe Reid, who coughs it up the first time a Colt lays a hand on him. Four Bears and six Colts dive for it. The only guy in the vicinity who doesn't jump into the scrum? Devin Hester. You can get hurt in there! Recovered by Marvelous (Marvyljus?) Tyjuan Hagler. And the Colts are back in business ...
1-10-CHI346:43... and the Colts are just as quickly going out of business. Manning goes to hand off, Alex Brown comes crashing into the backfield and Joseph Addai must decide which he would rather have in his gut: the ball, or Brown's fist. He chooses neither, and the ball tumbles to the turf. Manning makes like Hester ("Hey, someone jump on that!"), and the Bears fall on it.
1-10-CHI436:34Someone finally holds onto the ball. Chicago's line opens an enormous hole, and Thomas Jones slides through. As he reaches the secondary, Colts DBs Bob Sanders and Nick Harper come crashing into each other just like the doors in the Toyota Tundra commercial. 52 yards later, Antoine Bethea finally runs down Jones at the 5.
1-5-IND5 5:51Jones for 1 yard.
2-4-IND4 5:08Jones for no gain.
3-4-IND4 4:40Lovie Smith throws up his hands, closes his eyes and tells Grossman to throw it. 4-yard touchdown to a thoroughly covered Muhsin Muhammad. Nice 'n' ballsy. CBS cameras linger on Joseph Addai on the Colts sideline, because it was his blown assignment that allowed that big gain by Jones. Chicago 14, Indianapolis 6
AD!AD!Snickers: Gross, distasteful, somewhat homophobic candy bar ad that ends with two men hurting themselves. (Deaths: 1. Injuries: 5.)
AD!AD!Schick Quattro Titanium: A man's close shave makes a woman fall down on a treadmill. (Deaths: 1. Injuries: 6.)
AD!AD!Pride: Black swim team overcomes prejudice and, I'm pretty sure, Tom Arnold. When Tom Arnold loses, we all win.
KICKOFF4:34We come back to Nantz rattling off some meaningless trivia. There hadn't been any first-quarter TDs in the last five Super Bowls blah blah blah. Simms says this validates his statement earlier that the weather wouldn't be a factor. It sure doesn't sound like he's kidding, but Nantz pretends he is. These two should just get a room, if they don't have one already. Terrence Wilkins fields the kick at the 7, runs it out as far as the 22, then gets spun around like in a cartoon and actually starts running the other way before Adrian Peterson hauls him down at the 16. Peterson starts preening, but Wilkins was running the wrong way. If Peterson had let him go, he'd have lost another 5 yards, at least.
AD!AD!Chevrolet: We have to listen to people who can't sing as they sing about their cars. Tagline: "People who love cars love Chevy." That last bit of absurdist humor makes this the funniest ad yet. There's $2.5 million well spent.
AD!AD!Bud Light: This one makes fun of immigrants and ethnic Americans.
PROMO!PROMO!Justin Timberlake will appear on the Grammys. Huh. I never thought CBS would have the stones to put J.T. on the air during the Super Bowl ever again.
AD!AD!Late Show: Letterman and Oprah. Gold. GOLD! PURE GOLD!
1-10-IND164:27Dominic Rhodes for no gain. Simms breaks down the Reggie Wayne TD from several drives back, but he identifies the wrong guy as Chris Harris.
2-10-IND163:503-yard pass.
3-7-IND193:21Menacing scumbag Ricky Manning comes in as a nickel back for the Bears. So there are now three Mannings on the field: Peyton, Ricky and Bears cornerback Danieal. Nantz starts in with the one-liner he had prepared especially for this moment, but he can't spit it out before the snap. Aaron Moorehead bobbles a short pass while Nantz is babbling about Cooper and Eli and Mannings aplenty in the backyard in New Orleans. "The rain is absolutely having a little effect," Simms says (oxy)moronically.
4-7-IND193:18Time for a punt, so: "Blah blah blah Devin Hester." Hunter Smith kicks it high enough that the coverage team has plenty of time to bottle Hester up.
1-10-CHI353:05Time for another Simms Spotlight! We see video of Cedric Benson and are told that the key for the Bears offense is "No tricks: Be physical, run right at them." The Colts defense, meanwhile, needs "Speed, hustle & flow." No, wait. "Speed, hustle & emotion." Grossman hits Bernard Berrian with a 13-yard sideline pass.
1-10-CHI482:46Taking their cue from the Simms Spotlight, the Bears send Cedric Benson out there to be physical and run right at them. No tricks! Bob Sanders lights him up, and he fumbles. Maybe next time, try some tricks. Dwight Freeney recovers.
1-10-CHI432:342-yard Rhodes run. Ooh! Pro Bowl promo!
2-8-CHI411:58Incomplete pass.
3-8-CHI411:53Deep pass. Harrison has it on his fingertips, but Vasher knocks it away.
4-8-CHI411:46Neutral zone infraction on Chicago.
4-3-CHI361:46The punt gets off before anyone can start talking about Devin Hester. The Colts down it inside the 5.
1-10-CHI51:33Instead of a commercial break with the change of possession, we get a music video -- a montage of turnovers set to the Chemical Brothers' Galvanize. CBS certainly has passed up a lot of lucrative chances to cut to commercial tonight. Les Moonves might want to drop by Ad Sales on Monday morning and kick some garbage cans. Back to the game: Benson, being physical, runs right at them, picks up 4 yards, injures his knee (though Nantz seems to think it's his head), and is done for the year. As the trainers work him over, CBS keeps us occupied with more trivia: Cedric Benson, Gale Sayers and Walter Payton were all No. 4 overall picks by the Bears! And I add a little of my own: Neither Benson nor Sayers nor Payton scored in a Super Bowl. Benson, because he got hurt; Sayers, because the Bears were awful and never made the playoffs while he was with them; and Payton, because Mike Ditka believed that a 400-pound flash-in-the-pan freak show deserved to score a TD in the Super Bowl more than the NFL's then-all-time rushing leader and one of its greatest human beings.
2-6-CHI91:07Grossman leads Berrian too far; pass caught out of bounds.
3-6-CHI90:574-yard run.
1-10-IND420:09Because we're so close to the end of the quarter, there's no commercial break here, either, but there is a promo for Rules of Engagement. And ... what a coincidence! The stars of Rules of Engagement are right here in the stadium. David Spade is wrapped in plastic and appears stoned. The quarter ends with a 12-yard pass to Joseph Addai, who runs right over Nathan Vasher.
AD!AD! What's more passé than advertising a web-hosting service during the Super Bowl? Using T&A, Wee Man and the American Chopper guys to advertise a web-hosting service during the Super Bowl. Prince hasn't even come out yet, and we're already partying like it's 1999!
AD!AD!Coca-Cola: Grand Theft Auto-style characters do Coke. Best ad so far.
PROMO!PROMO!Two and a Half Men is America's No. 1 comedy? No ... really? Things are worse than I thought.
1-10-CHI4615:00And we're right back to the game after two 30-second spots and a minute-long house ad for CBS. I'm sorry, but it's really looking like they couldn't sell all the ad time. Peyton Manning opens the quarter with a 15-yard pass to Marvin Harrison on the right sideline. Harrison can either take it inside, where there isn't another Bear defender within at least 30 yards, or he can turn to the outside and let Nathan Vasher push him out of bounds. Harrison opts to go out of bounds. Must be saving himself for the Pro Bowl. Suppose Nantz or Simms will say anything about it? No, they have an index card full of fun facts about Vasher they have to get to. Simms does note that the Bears are willing to "give up those routes to the outside." Especially when Marv's afraid to go inside.
1-10-CHI3114:386 yard gain by Joseph Addai.
2-4-CHI2514:00Bears DE Mark Anderson anticipates the snap perfectly, charges into the backfield and runs right past Addai, who discovers how easy it is to gain 8 yards when a defensive end abandons his post.
1-10-CHI1713:16Addai can't get around the corner and loses 3 yards.
2-13-CHI2012:514-yard pass to Harrison.
3-9-CHI1612:045-yard pass to Addai. As Adam Vinatieri trots on for the field-goal attempt, we are told that the PAT screwup after the Colts TD doesn't count against Vinatieri as a missed extra point. True, but it counts against Vinatieri as a failed two-point conversion attempt. Oh, snap! Oh, botched snap!
4-4-CHI1111:21Hunter Smith has wisely put a glove on his big greasy hand and gets the ball down for the 29-yard field goal attempt. Good! Chicago 14, Indianapolis 9
AD!AD!Budweiser: A white dog gets splashed with mud, which makes it look like a Dalmatian, which allows it to ride in a parade and pretend it's a fire department hero dog instead of the detestable layabout it really is. I'm glad I don't have to explain it to my son, because the message of this beer ad appears to be: It's not who you are inside; it's who you are on the surface. Also: Beer can make your dreams a reality!
AD!AD!Garmin: A GPS device for your car relieves you from the inconvenience of having to fold and unfold road maps. This is told via an ad designed to look like a cheesy science-fiction movie. It isn't funny, clever or memorable. It's just sad and stupid and wasteful. And I'm the target audience for this kind of crap. Well done.
PROMO!PROMO!The Police will reunite at the Grammys. I'm guessing it's Andy Summers' idea. Rascal Flatts will also perform, in case you needed further incentive to watch something else.
KICKOFF 11:17Returning from commercial, a graphic informs us that you can catch all the Super Bowl ads at Yeah, and you can "catch" gonorrhea downtown. So? On the field, the CBS cameras show us an interesting chess game: The Bears have put Devin Hester at the 25 and made Rashied Davis the deep man to try to gull the Colts into kicking to Hester. Nantz, who missed all of it while reading the ad copy, expresses surprise that "Hester is not back there" when the Colts kick it deep. Davis returns it to the 22.
1-10-CHI2211:11Instead of a commercial break, we see Peyton Manning on the sidelines grimacing at Marvin Harrison, offensive coordinator Tom Moore and poor Jim Sorgi, who is cultivating the saddest little preteen mustache. Nantz wonders aloud why Hester wasn't deep for the kickoff: "He's on the sideline and appears just fine." After Thomas Jones gains 4 yards, someone in the truck finally gets a hold of Nantz, who "clarifies" that Hester was on the field after all. Glad we got that clarified.
2-6-CHI2610:40Jones stuffed at the line. Nantz discusses Black History Month: "Tonight, we're living it by example." I get the point, but it's bizarrely put.
3-6-CHI2610:062-yard pass to Rashied Davis, who gets blown up by Bob Sanders.
4-4-CHI289:29Nantz starts in on the black-coaches angle again but can't get anywhere because the Bears are punting the ball and then we have a commercial break.
AD!AD! Work is a ... jungle, maybe? Three men get caught in a net. A guy gets hit with a water bottle. At least 11 people fall off a cliff. (The overall ad toll has now risen to 12 deaths and 10 injuries.)
AD!AD!Doritos: Oversexed plus-size checkout girl gets so worked up over various chip flavors that she shits herself -- or worse -- and calls for a "cleanup on Register 6."
AD!AD!Chevy: Scantily clad men (including the Naked Cowboy) wash women's car as Nelly sings. Ad copy tells us that "guys can't keep their hands off" the Chevy HHR, which looks like an uninspired ripoff of the PT Cruiser. This ad is the winner of the "College Ad Challenge." Great. We can look forward to 40 more years of crap like this from whatever genius is responsible.
1-10-IND429:17Nantz and Simms bitch at each other about the weather before Peyton Manning hits Marvin Harrison on a crossing route. Harrison picks up 22 before stepping out of bounds, untouched. That dude's getting himself a rep here.
1-10-CHI368:43Pressured, Manning rolls out to the right and ... Whoa, Manning just rolled out. And it wasn't like the old-timey Clodhopper Manning rollout either. It was smooth. Man, it's like it's 1996 and I'm watching Mark Brunell or something. Anyway, Manning throws across his body to Dallas Clark for 17 yards. Colts are in the red zone.
1-10-CHI198:08Water on the camera lens is making it look like we're watching the game at a drive-in. Dominic Rhodes for 3.
2-7-CHI167:335-yard pass to Clark.
3-2-CHI117:13Rhodes gains 3 on 3rd-and-2 when Vasher can't wrap him up.
1-8-CHI86:38Rhodes runs right up the middle. 7-yard gain to the 1.
2-1-CHI16:15Rhodes leaves cleat marks all over Adewale Ogunleye as he bulls in for the go-ahead touchdown. The camera lingers on Brian Urlacher because it doesn't know what else to do. The extra point is good this time. Indianapolis 16, Chicago 14
AD!AD!Bud Light: The "fist-bump" (the high-five of the 21st century) has been replaced by the bitch-slap. Fourteen people get struck in the face. (Deaths: 12. Injuries: 24.)
AD!AD!American Heart Association: What could have been a useful public service ad warning of the dangers posed to your heart by hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol and obesity is instead just another dreary 30 seconds of a guy in a Kabuki heart suit getting punched and kicked. (Deaths: 12. Injuries: 25.)
AD!AD!NFL/United Way: Looks like CBS only sold 1 minute and 45 seconds of ad time and had to fill out the TV timeout with a 15-second PSA.
KICKOFF 6:09More trivia: We learn that the Colts have scored in all 14 quarters of the postseason, the longest such streak in NFL history. That's kind of neat, actually. Adam Vinatieri kicks a grounder that's headed straight for Devin Hester, except Adrian Peterson steps in front of him and fields it. Hester lays a nice block on a Colt, but not until after Peterson is dragged down at the 36.
AD!AD!General Motors: Do robots dream of electric sheep? Well, according to this ad, GM assembly line robots dream about losing their jobs because the rolling toilets that GM calls cars are so durable that they come with 100,000-mile warranties. Oh, silly robot! You know GM only lays off people!
AD!AD!Coca-Cola: Coke celebrates Black History Month. That's two out of two Coke ads that I actually liked. Maybe because no one got kicked in the balls.
1-10-CHI366:03Rex Grossman checks down to Thomas Jones, who's swarmed after just 3 yards. Simms says Grossman is off to a "good start." And for Grossman of late, this is indeed a good start. But as Bears offensive line coach Winston Wolf said, let's not start s***in' each other's d***s just yet: He's 5-of-7 for 28 yards. First of all, that's a meager 4 yards per attempt. Second of all, it's nearly halftime and he's thrown seven passes. He does have that TD, though.
2-7-CHI395:27The rain is coming in sheets as Simms drones on. He says offensive coordinator Ron Turner and the Bears are feeling so good about Grossman that they're running plays that have been in the book since the first week of training camp. I have no idea what that's supposed to mean, but I doubt the play they run here -- checking down to a 4-yard dumpoff to Jason McKie -- was one of them.
3-3-CHI434:50Solomon Wilcots reports that Cedric Benson is out for the game. As if on cue, Thomas Jones gets 2 yards on 3rd-and-3. Save for the one 52-yard play, the Colts run defense is just unbelievable.
4-1-CHI454:10Brad Maynard punts, but not before we're told he grew up in Indianapolis. Since the Muhammad TD, the Bears have had a fumble and three 3-and-outs. OK, that might contribute to the lack of TV timeouts (including right now), but I'm sticking to my guns.
1-10-IND353:57Not so fast, pardner: Time for another Simms Spotlight. (I just realized that in the little animation they show with these segments, Simms, circa 1987, throws a football through the "O" in "Spotlight." I'll be damned.) In the spotlight right now is Brian Urlacher. We see the first play of the game, when he tipped the pass, and then we see a replay of him stopping Joseph Addai after a short gain. Back to live action, we see ... Urlacher stop Joseph Addai after a short gain. Alanis Morrisette would call that ironic.
2-7-IND383:248-yard pass to Addai, about 6 of them after the catch.
1-10-IND462:48Addai loses a yard.
2-11-IND452:14Peyton Manning checks down to, of course, Addai, who, despite catching the ball 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage, picks up 10 to wind up just short of the first down. We reach the two-minute warning and the Colts offense heads to the sidelines to see if anyone over there has a play that goes to someone besides Addai. I mean, that's a lot of money against the salary cap to just run decoy routes out there.
AD!AD!Wild Hogs: John Travolta + Martin Lawrence + Tim Allen + William H. Macy + Marisa Tomei = Blockbuster cast. Assuming it's still 1998.
AD!AD!Sprint Mobile Broadband: Being unable to connect to the Internet is like being unable to sustain an erection. That's not just the subtext of this ad. That's the text.
3-1-CHI452:00Addai picks up the first down, so, no, it looks like they really don't have plays for anyone else. Addai, we learn, is the first rookie running back since 1990 to start a Super Bowl. Edgerrin James throws another Coors Light tall boy at the telly.
1-10-CHI431:38Finally! A pass to Reggie Wayne. And he drops it.
2-10-CHI431:336-yard pass to Bryan Fletcher. He manages to catch it, but maybe he shouldn't have, because Charles Tillman strips the ball away. Tillman then recovers the fumble. The replay shows that Tillman didn't hit Fletcher terribly hard. Fletcher is a most delicate flower.
1-10-IND351:26If you don't know what's going to happen here, you just haven't been paying attention. Rex Grossman fumbles the snap, the ball bounces around awhile and Raheem Brock falls on it. Occam's Razor is as sharp as ever as a rather remarkable replay shows that this one is all Rex's fault. Heh.
1-10-CHI351:18Dominic Rhodes walks through an enormous hole for a 10-yard gain. In other news, Domnic Rhodes is suddenly in the game.
1-10-CHI250:55Pass goes over Marvin Harrison's head.
2-10-CHI250:49Improvised shovel pass nearly gets the Colts a first down and nearly gets Rhodes a rack of broken ribs from Danieal Manning. Gain of 8. Colts "utilize" a timeout.
AD!AD!Frito-Lay: They're celebrating Black History Month, too. We see African-Americans watching the game and hearing Nantz and Simms talk about the two black coaches without actually talking about the two black coaches. Wouldn't it be nice if Greg Gumbel hadn't been demoted?
3-2-CHI170:39Whoa, we're back. Joseph Addai up the middle for no gain. Adam Vinatieri comes on, sets up for the field goal, awaits the snap and ... the Colts call timeout? You can't say Tony Dungy isn't an innovator. I've never seen a coach ice his own kicker in a Super Bowl before. And we're off to commercial again.
AD!AD!Coca-Cola: Old guy, played by that dude who used to be C.C. Capwell on Santa Barbara, is inspired to great adventures by a single sip of carbonated sugar water.
4-2-CHI170:02OK, and now we're ready for the kick and ... the Bears call timeout.
PROMO!PROMO!That guy who played the Manchurian Candidate in the remake is gonna be on CSI.
4-2-CHI170:02After all that buildup, Vinatieri pushes the kick left. Nantz, redeeming himself for a lot here, points out immediately that Vinatieri missed two kicks (well, one was blocked) against Carolina in Super Bowl XXXIX. Most idiot announcers would just be honking away about how Vinatieri never misses kicks in the postseason. So, score one for Jim N. Meanwhile, some Bears react to the missed FG by pumping their fists and pounding their chests as if they did something besides catch a lucky break after being rolled by the Colts for the entire second quarter.

The boys at the CBS desk are supposedly down at field level, yet they're bone-dry, leading one to suspect that they're really in the New York studio doing this on chroma key. Or that they have a tarp. Dan Marino and Boomer Esiason manage to smile despite knowing that one of these quarterbacks is going to go home with one more Super Bowl ring than the two of them combined, and that it could very well be Rex Grossman.

Analysis time! Esiason reminds the audience that the players' balls are wet and slippery. You have to be careful not to let the defense rip your balls away, he says. Gripping a (dry) ball tightly, Boomer comes a bit unglued as he declares in a cracking voice, "THIS IS THE MOST PRECIOUS THING IN THE GAME OF FOOTBALL." Shannon Sharpe concurs: "KEEP YOUR EYE ON YOUR LUGGAGE!" Which, you know, doesn't make any sense. When you're running with the ball, you don't keep your eye on it; you keep your hands on it. Marino praises Peyton Manning for a while and points out that the Colts lead 2-to-1 in time of possession. Sharpe says, "The game could not have started any better for the Chicago Bears," referring to Devin Hester returning the opening kickoff (or, as Sharpe says, "taking a football back" ) 92 yards for a TD. Don't be so sure. Less than a month earlier, you'll recall, another football championship game started with a 90-yard-plus kickoff return for a touchdown. It was by Ohio State's Ted Ginn in the BCS title game against Florida. Florida then went on to dominate the next 59 minutes and 44 seconds en route to a 41-14 demolition of the Buckeyes. I'd be interested in seeing how much correlation there is between taking back the opening kickoff and winning. Something about it just seems to bleed the intensity from the team that scores -- they think that the game's going to be easy or something. Sharpe goes on to point out that Rex Grossman is playing like dung and that the Bears can't win unless he improves. (And thanks to Rush Limbaugh, we all know why the media says things like that. How long has Peyton Manning been a black quarterback?) James Brown says the Bears are supposed to be better in sloppy conditions, and yet Indy is the one that looks sharper. He turns to Boomer to elaborate on this point. Esiason drops it all together and says, "Well, I gotta be honest with you guys ..." That makes me think he's going to say something counterintuitive or controversial. Here's what he says: "If I'm the Chicago Bears, it's OK, it's 16-14, were still well into this game. But now we do have to get more out of Rex Grossman." Way to go out a limb there, Booms. Sharpe is in the middle of another ill-advised "he was who I thought he was" construction when the stadium goes dark behind him and the crowd goes wild. And not for Shannon Sharpe.

Phony lightning crashes as Prince starts playing Let's Go Crazy. Young people are released onto the field like the bulls at Pamplona, and they rush the Prince-symbol-shaped stage. Wait -- young people? Let me tell you a little story. I went to Southwest High School in Minneapolis, home of the Lakers (formerly the Indians). Southwest's colors were purple and white. My freshman year in high school, the homecoming theme was "Purple Reign." That made sense because it was 1984, and Purple Rain had just come out. That was 22 years ago. Any young people who were into Prince back when Prince was worth getting into are going to be like me now: old farts. Remember what I said in the pregame about how Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and Billy Joel have become "safe." Add Prince to that list. The key difference, though, between trotting out the boomer icons and those of Generation X is that Gen-X'ers are at least aware that we're getting old, and we're aware that our icons are no longer current. We may still watch reruns of Melrose Place wherever we can find them, but we don't delude ourselves into thinking that our kids will either know or care about it.

Prince does some call-and-response stuff during Let's Go Crazy that's kind of fun, but gets only limited response. As with the Stones in last year's halftime show, people in the crowd appear to be mostly just standing there until the camera turns their way, then everyone starts dancing. The Florida A&M marching band drops by. There's a medley with Baby I'm a Star; Proud Mary; rather oddly, All Along the Watchtower; and, extremely oddly, Best of You. All of it is just prelude to the finale, Purple Rain, in which Prince and his guitar are silhouetted against a big sheet. There was a small amount of hand-wringing later about the guitar's resemblance to a phallus, mostly among people who had never seen a guitar played before. I mean, that's kind of the point, isn't it? Guitar = Wang. In the wake of Janet Jackson's boob, of course, people are going to be looking for this sort of thing in perpetuity. And now that society appears to have judged the response to Janet Jackson's boob as a comical, bluenose overreaction, the NFL could probably send out a couple to have sex on the 50-yard line and most people would just shrug: There they go again! Prince's show ends with a hell of a fireworks display, and then it's time for football again. I don't know. Prince represents Minneapolis, and therefore will always be A-number-one in my book, but I was just bored by the whole thing.

Pepsi: The person holding "Pepsi code" 10081185 has won Super Bowl tickets for life. Wha ... ? I drink Diet Pepsi by the 55-gallon-drum-ful and knew nothing about this. Criminal Minds: I've never seen the show, but this ad makes it look like a Saw movie. CSI Miami and Jericho: Haven't seen either of these either, and likely won't. And some other crappy CBS promos and local ads that aren't worth my time.

KICKOFF 15:00Before we get going, Steve Tasker tells us Tony Dungy believes that if the Colts can drive down and score in the first five minutes of the half, they'll have control of the game. Solomon Wilcots reports that the Bears defense rested at halftime. And here I thought they were out doing The Bird during Prince's set. I don't know what's gotten into Jim Nantz, but he's awfully logy as the Bears set up to kick off; he just sort of barks out stats and bits of trivia here and there. A graphic lists "Super Bowl XLI miscues": The 5 lost fumbles and Indy's missed FG and botched PAT definitely count as miscues. But the Chris Harris interception and especially the Devin Hester TD are just as much great plays by the Bears as bad ones by the Colts. Get your head in the game, boys! Robbie Goa'uld -- er, Robbie Gould -- kicks off. Terrence Wilkins returns the kick 26 yards to the Indianapolis 38. ("Nifty," Nantz calls it)
1-10-IND3814:52During a quick scoring summary, we're told that Muhsin Muhammad is the third player in Super Bowl history to score touchdowns with two different teams. We aren't told what other team he scored a TD for (Panthers) or who the other two guys are (Ricky Proehl, Rams and Panthers; Jerry Rice, 49ers and Raiders). Peyton Manning checks down to Joseph Addai for 6.
2-4-IND4414:15A "QB Comparison" graphic shows Manning with a rating of 85.1, Rex Grossman with 120.8. Ladies and gentlemen, the apex of Rex Grossman's career. Just before the snap, the Bears appear to diagnose the play, because the front seven all start bouncing around and making the same hand-pump motion. Then Addai picks up 8 yards. Looks like a flawed diagnosis.
1-10-CHI4813:401-yard pass to Addai. Bears DB Nathan Vasher says he wants to marry Oprah Winfrey. I just learned that from the TV.
2-9-CHI4713:061-yard pass to Dallas Clark. I'm dying to know more about Vasher and Oprah, but Phil Simms starts in on some story involving Tom Moore that I don't care about.
3-8-CHI4612:23How often do you see a play involving two guys with the initials B.U.? Brian Urlacher drops too deep into coverage, and Ben Utecht makes him pay by catching a pass underneath. Urlacher then makes Utecht pay by injuring him on the tackle, but not before Utecht gets the first down. There's no way around it: If you're a supposedly dominating defense, you have got to get off the field on 3rd-and-8. Chicago can't get off the field on 3rd-and-8. Q.E.D. Simms astutely notes that the Bears are using the same defensive strategy against the Colts that everyone else tried in the regular season, which is to take away the big play and make Manning beat you five yards at a time. It didn't work very long in the regular season.
1-10-CHI3811:43Addai gains another 10 without a whole lot of difficulty.
1-10-CHI2811:043 more for Addai. Adewale Ogunleye strips the ball, but Addai holds on. Urlacher, meanwhile, strips off Ryan Lilja's helmet and throws it about 20 yards downfield. Generally, that sort of thing is a penalty.
2-7-CHI2510:272-yard run by Addai.
3-5-CHI239:479-yard pass to Addai for another third-down conversion. Urlacher, burned underneath once again, is not pleased with this Tampa 2 jive.
1-10-CHI149:12Addai for 2. We're told that Colts center Jeff Saturday is "the quarterback of the offensive line." I thought the quarterback was the quarterback of the offensive line.
2-8-CHI128:29Right guard Jake Scott (who's just "the right guard of the offensive line") gets a 5-yard false start penalty, which does more to stop the Colts' drive than anything the Bears have tried. Nantz informs us that this is not the same Jake Scott who was MVP of Super Bowl VII. That Jake Scott is 61 years old, so I could see why he might false start. Nantz also tells us there's no relation between the two. Really? Scott's such an unusual name, too.
2-13-CHI178:08The ball goes to Addai for the sixth straight play. 3-yard pass.
3-10-CHI147:45Manning hits Clark at the Chicago 6, where Clark slips and falls 2 yards short of the first down. If the Bears can't stop them on third down, then the turf will. Manning screams at someone. Dungy throws the challenge flag even though it doesn't appear that there was anything to challenge. The Colts think there may have been 12 men on the field. (There weren't.) Maybe it's worth a shot, but if the game comes down to the final seconds and you've blown a timeout challenging a play that even a cursory look at the replay shows was called correctly, you're going to get absolutely hammered for it. See Schottenheimer, Marty, vs. New England in the divisional round. As we wait for the ruling, Simms takes another bite of his favorite flavor of fudge: "The rain, it has to hamper the quarterbacks a little." Finally, after another half-inch of rain falls, referee Tony Corrente wades back onto the field, upholds the original call (which wasn't really a call, but you get the point), and charges the Colts their first timeout.
4-2-CHI67:30Iced by his own team for the second time this game, Adam Vinatieri just barely gets the 24-yard field goal up and through. With one drive, Indy has chewed up one-fourth of the second half. Indianapolis 19, Chicago 14
AD!AD!Meet the Robinsons: This is some kind of animated movie for kids. It isn't at all clear what it's about, but it's Disney, so just shut up and see the movie and then buy the Happy Meal with the tied-in toy and no one will get hurt.
AD!AD!E-Trade: Your bank is ripping you off in some unspecified manner, so now you must do all your banking with this dot-com. Just pray you'll never need to talk to a live person.
AD!AD!Coca-Cola: When a Eurotrash man pushes the Coke button on a vending machine, the bottle passes through some computer-generated acid-trip fantasy world before coming out the chute. No wonder it takes so fucking long. Oh, and you get a glass bottle, too.
KICKOFF 7:26Adam Vinatieri squib-kicks it again, and the Bears bobble it again but at least don't lose it. Rex Grossman, who has been on the field for one play in the last hour or so (and fumbled on that one play) heads onto the field only to be called back for a TV timeout.
AD!AD!Bud Light: Talking gorillas. Can you believe this shit?
AD!AD!Revlon: Sheryl Crow dyes her hair in every city on tour. You can go to iTunes to buy Sheryl Crow's song about her hair dye. More or less.
1-10-CHI327:21Grossman goes over the middle to Thomas Jones for 14 yards, and it looks like he could have gotten more if he hadn't lost his footing.
1-10-CHI466:51Grossman hits Muhsin Muhammad for a pickup of 9. Now they're moving! They're gonna get right back in it! They "didn't come here lookin' for trouble!"
2-1-IND456:17Grossman finds trouble nonetheless, slipping and falling as Booger McFarland closes in. Loss of 11.
3-12-CHI445:45Then trouble finds Grossman. He fumbles the snap, picks it up and actually starts running toward his own end zone before mercifully slipping and falling (again). Did Lovie Smith change QBs at halftime? Like, to Aaron Brooks? Just like that, 2nd-and-1 has become 4th-and-23.
4-23-CHI335:36Call it four-and-out. Brad Maynard punts. As we go to commercial, Nantz says the fumble play looked like Australian Rules Football. Oi!
AD!AD! Gladiators dressed in armor built out of office supplies battle for a promotion. This is a nice ad. Despite all the commotion, no one actually gets hit, in the balls or elsewhere.
AD!AD!Taco Bell: Talking lions. Can you believe this shit?
AD!AD!Van Heusen: Gelled metrosexual lives life in reverse. Would you believe Van Heusen shirts are hip? Me neither. Look, Van Heusen makes some nice shirts. But they aren't terribly hip shirts. You know why? Because I'd wear them.
1-10-IND365:23Joseph Addai is on the bench. Now it's Dominic Rhodes' turn to get the ball every single play -- starting with a 36-yard romp deep into Chicago territory. The Bears should have put eight guys in the box to stop the run. Oh, wait. They did. I played it back, and sure enough: Eight guys overpursuing and arm-tackling.
1-10-CHI284:42Rhodes for 8 yards, plus 10 more when Danieal Manning grabs his face mask.
1-10-CHI104:12Reggie Wayne makes a nice catch, but is well out of the end zone. He lands in a mud puddle right in front of a CBS camera, thus guaranteeing we will see this meaningless play over and over before the night is done. The Bears defensive backs, as they are wont to do, congratulate each other for the pass having been thrown out of bounds.
2-10-CHI104:06A pass to Dallas Clark at the 5 is broken up by Lance Briggs. He and his fellow linebackers, who actually did something on this play, don't make a big deal out of it. (Football math: Wide receivers - 8 inches = defensive backs. Running backs + 40 pounds = linebackers.) Peyton Manning wants an interference call on Briggs, but he ain't gonna get it. Which makes me think: If I had to pick my absolute least favorite word in sports commentary, it's "whining." Those who use the word are almost always doing so just to pre-empt someone else's argument, however reasonable, so that their own worldview isn't challenged. Accusing someone of "whining" may shut them up, but ultimately it's a loser's tactic, the equivalent of putting your hands over your ears and shouting LA-LA-LA-I-CAN'T-HEAR-YOU. With all that said, Manning does look kinda whiny here. Briggs grabbed Clark's arm just as the ball arrived. It was a good, clean play.
3-10-CHI104:01Manning hops about before the snap like an even crazier man than usual, and you know what that means: running play. Rhodes goes up the middle but is stopped at the 2. Reggie Wayne assists on the tackle.
4-2-CHI23:20Adam Vinatieri hits the 20-yard field goal, then is hit in the legs by Todd Johnson. Officials call "running into the kicker" rather than roughing the kicker. Had it been roughing, the Colts would have gotten an automatic first down. Because it's "running into," though, the result would only be half the distance to the goal and a replay of fourth down. So the Colts leave the points on the board and decline the penalty. All of which enrages me, because too often defensive penalties near the goal line don't carry any penalty at all. Let's reset: The Colts had 4th-and-goal from the 2. So, essentially, it was 4th-and-2. If they'd had 4th-and-2 at the 10 yard line, and Johnson got called for running into Vinatieri, then the Bears would have been penalized 5 yards, giving the Colts a first down. But because the penalty distance (5 yards) was more than the distance to the end zone (2 yards), by rule the penalty is only half the distance to the goal, or 1 yard. Some penalty. And that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to half-the-distance rulings. Anyway, Indianapolis 22, Chicago 14
AD!AD!Toyota Tundra: In another "actual demonstration," a pickup hauls a 10,000-pound load up one side of a giant seesaw, then rolls down the other side and slams on the brakes. It really is impressive, but then when you think about all the time, money and effort that must have gone into building that big seesaw, it comes off as absurd.
AD!AD!Emerald Nuts: The use of Robert Goulet as a sort of Topkapi-meets-Poltergeist troublemaker is rather amusing, though what it has to do with nuts is beyond me, and I'll bet by tomorrow morning, no one will remember what the ads was actually for. Remember who had the herding cats ad? No one else does either. (FYI: As yet, there have been no reports of TV screens being shot out based upon Goulet's appearance.)
AD!AD!T-Mobile: Dwyane Wade and Charles Barkley. "Is this your dad?" I love this ad.
KICKOFF 3:16Continuing to give Devin Hester no rope with which to hang them, the Colts kick it maybe 30 yards. John Gilmore fields it and stumbles out of bounds at the Chicago 45, then Robert Mathis lays a bonus, illegal hit on him. After the penalty, the Bears will start at the Indy 40, and if that damn honky Rex Grossman can't get it into the end zone from there, then all that shit they talk about him might just be true.
AD!AD!FedEx Ground: People in an office are literal representations of their names (Harry has long hair, Eileen is leaning, Joy is giggly, etc.) Would only have been funny if the boss' name ended up being Hancock.
AD!AD!Nationwide Insurance: The long-awaited Kevin Federline riches-to-rage ad, which is actually funny. What's even funnier is that all the songs on K-Fed's album were garbage, so they had to come up with a different one for him to sing in the commercial. This ad prompted protests that it demeaned fast-food workers. Sorry, but if anyone's demeaning fast-food workers, it's their own employers.
AD!AD!Bud Light: Beer makes you want to pick up scary hitchhikers.
1-10-IND403:11As we come back, Nantz and Simms comment that the Bears have a short field for the first time tonight. Every field is short with Rex Grossman in the pocket, baby! From a spread formation, Thomas Jones goes up the middle for 8.
2-2-IND322:40Jones for 4.
1-10-IND282:14Fuck it, I'm going downfield: Grossman throws it about 7 yards ahead of Rashied Davis inside the Indy 10. Incomplete. "Dangerous throw," Nantz says. All throws are dangerous with Rex Grossman in the pocket, baby!
2-10-IND282:08Jones gets 2, maybe 3.
3-8-IND261:30Fuck it, I'm going downfield: After a spirited run back and forth around the line of scrimmage, Grossman puts one right in Colts DB Jason David's hands. Desmond Clark breaks it up.
4-8-IND261:18Robbie Gould's 44-yard field goal is good. So much for the short field. Indianapolis 22, Chicago 17
KICKOFF 1:14We're close enough to the end of the quarter that we don't get a commercial break. What we do get is a lot of information about Robbie Gould, none of it very interesting. He was in Patriots camp with Adam Vinatieri once. Neat. Terrence Wilkins takes the kick back 26 yards to the Indianapolis 32. Wilkins has 89 return yards, Devin Hester 92.
1-10-IND321:08We see the Reggie Wayne mud-puddle money shot again before Dominic Rhodes loses 3 yards. Because the tackle is made by Tank Johnson, we finally get the scoop on Johnson's gun fetish, his multiple arrests and the necessity of obtaining court permission just for him to play in the game.
2-13-IND290:37Nantz is still talking about guns as Peyton Manning throws to Marvin Harrison, who tries to tap both feet inbounds for a pickup of 11. One official rules him in, but another runs in and very emphatically signals that Harrison was out of bounds. Simms didn't get a clear view, either, so he agrees with the second guy. A replay shows Harrison getting both feet in, which raises the obvious question: What could the second official have seen that made him so sure? Answer: Nothing. Which means he ruled based not on what he actually saw but rather on what he thought must have happened. Which is as close to an absolute no-no as you can get. But if you're expecting the boys in the booth to make that point, forget it. Tony Dungy challenges the call -- odd because it's only second down and the pass didn't even pick up a first down. The call is reversed in what may be a Pyrrhic victory, because the Colts are plumb out of challenges.
3-2-IND400:22Manning goes to Wayne for 8 yards, and we've got three quarters in the book.
PROMO!PROMO!Katie Couric again promises to blow sunshine up our asses.
ADS!ADS!These appear to be ads sold by the affiliates. In Washington we see a forgettable PNC Bank ad, a forgettable Chevy SUV ad, and a really striking, unforgettable anti-war ad featuring maimed veterans that I can't imagine in a million years that CBS would have accepted.
1-10-IND4815:00A "game summary" graphic shows utter domination by the Colts. The fact that they're only ahead by 5, though, makes me think Chicago is destined to win this. Dominic Rhodes gains 2 yards.
2-8-5014:30Perhaps being perched precisely at midfield messes with your equilibrium, because Ryan Lilja false starts and pushes the Colts back 5 yards. Simms describes a conversation with Indianapolis offensive coordinator Tom Moore, in which he recites Moore's lines in a Lettermanesque dumb-guy voice. People in Kentucky-cornpone houses shouldn't throw stones, Phillip.
2-13-IND4514:14Rhodes gets the 5 yards back. Manning hustles the team back to the line while there are still about 14 Chicago players on the field. Discombobulated, the Bears call timeout.
AD!AD!Budweiser: Drink Bud on the beach, and end up with crabs.
AD!AD!Prudential: There are many kinds of rocks. Including the one I'm about to put through the telly.
AD!AD!Honda: Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love plays as we admire the CR-V, because nothing's more Elvis than a rollover-prone Japanese Totenwagen. The ad highlights the fact that from inside the vehicle, you can't hear anything from the outside. Like horns, or ambulances, or the screams of the children you just mowed down because you had your cellphone glued to your ear. There's a certain kind of person who drives a CR-V.
3-8-5013:54Reggie Wayne goes into the mud puddle again, and we're back live. Nantz says tonight's game is reminiscent of a Christmas night game here between the Jets and Dolphins. If nothing else, because it was raining during both games. Come to think of it, there is nothing else. With Bears all over him, Manning puts it in Harrison's hands 30 yards downfield, but he can't haul it in. Coming down, Harrison's leg folds under him pretty painfully. Still, you gotta catch those in the Super Bowl.
4-8-5013:48Hunter Smith punts. Devin Hester fakes the fair catch to allow the ball to bounce into the end zone for the touchback. One of the Indianapolis gunners knocks him down just for kicks.
1-10-CHI2013:38Again, no commercial break. Thomas Jones punches into the secondary for 12 yards, but it gets called back because of a holding call on John Tait.
1-20-CHI1013:09Before the next play, we get an update on Marvin Harrison. His leg hurts! Nantz observes, "It seems like Harrison never gets hit. ... He always seems to avoid contact." Yeah, I was saying something along those lines in the first half. On 1st-and-20, Jones gets 6 yards.
2-14-CHI1612:36Rex Grossman goes downfield to Muhsin Muhammad for 22 yards. Man, it's gotta be tempting to do it again, isn't it? Just rear back and chuck that mother? Just shoot for the stars?
1-10-CHI3811:59Grossman rears back and chucks it, and from the second it leaves his hand, you can hear it quacking. The only question is who's going to come down with it: Kelvin Hayden, playing behind Muhammad, or Bob Sanders, in front of Muhammad. The ball goes to Hayden, who runs it back 56 yards for a touchdown (running past the entire Bears offense, none of whom appear terribly motivated to stop him; it's not like these guys can be tired from being out there so much). Because Hayden came down so close to the sideline, Lovie Smith throws the red flag. The replay, however, shows that a) Hayden never stepped out, and b) the umpire was watching Hayden's feet like a hawk. Which is a good thing, because if the zebras had mistakenly ruled him out, the Colts wouldn't be able to challenge it, thanks to that weird 12-men-on-the-field theory in the third quarter. They still would have gotten the INT, just not the TD. Anyway, the challenge fails. the extra point is good, and our score is Indianapolis 29, Chicago 17. As we head to commercial, Nantz tells us, "No team in Super Bowl history has ever come back from a margin larger than 10 points down." This, of course, is not true. In Super Bowl XXXVI, the Rams were down 17-3 going into the fourth quarter, then scored two touchdowns to tie it up before losing on Vinatieri's last-second field goal. What Nantz means is, no team has come back from more than 10 points down and won.
AD!AD!Hewlett-Packard: Someone needs to tell Madison Avenue that the American Chopper guys were played out about two Super Bowls ago.
AD!AD!Izod: Izod? Izod? For the youngsters out there, Izod made these overpriced golf shirts that your parents wore when they were in high school. The shirts had little alligators embroidered on the breast. Fads never make any sense in retrospect.
AD!AD!Budweiser Select: Don Shula and Jay-Z play a cross between Madden and Domination from Never Say Never Again. Oddly fascinating.
KICKOFF 11:44Adam Vinatieri sends a low liner past Devin Hester and into the end zone. Everyone wants to focus on Vinatieri's field goals -- both the ones he makes and the ones he misses -- but he's been doing a hell of a job on kickoffs tonight. Hester might have four touchdowns if Mike Vanderjagt were still kicking for the Colts. As it is, Hester very nearly walks away from the ball here -- a live ball, mind you -- before running back and downing it.
1-10-CHI2011:44Thomas Jones gains 4.
2-6-CHI2411:21Rex Grossman hits Jason McKie for 4 more.
3-2-CHI2810:4411-yard pass to Desmond Clark. Now we're moving ...
1-10-CHI3910:12Simms points out that the Colts are protecting against the big play in order to force the Bears to go down the field methodically. The idea is that the more plays they're forced to run, the greater the chance they'll make a mistake. Sound familiar? Grossman has no patience for that shit. Fuck it, I'm going downfield: Pass intended for Bernard Berrian -- QUAAAAAAAAACK -- but never has a chance as Bob Sanders gets the pick. After the play, we have offsetting personal fouls, which are the best kind.
1-10-CHI419:39Joseph Addai gains 12 yards as Danieal Manning calls his own little safety blitz after the ball has been handed off and charges right past Addai.
1-10-CHI299:08Peyton Manning goes for it all, but Marvin Harrison can't get by the corner. No touchdown, but just as important, the clock stops on the incompletion. The Colts take too much time getting back to the line, and Manning has to call timeout.
AD!AD!Flomax: For the man who has everything, including an all-consuming, life-controlling need to urinate, there's Flomax. Subtle name. Side effects include decrease in semen. Ask your doctor.
AD!AD!E-Trade: Things you can do with one finger. I laughed at "Prove Your Sobriety," "Identify a Murderer" and "Save Holland." Then, they tell you to give your broker The Finger. Not bad. Not bad at all.
2-10-CHI299:04Another series of highlights set to Galvanize. These are of Rex Grossman shooting himself in the face. On the field, Manning has had a full timout to draw up the perfect play. But when the snap comes, Manning, like Goldilocks, is brutally molested by three Bears. Loss of 8 on the sack.
3-18-CHI378:32Addai up the middle for 2. On 3rd-and-18. Rex Grossman handed Indianapolis a hammer and a box of coffin nails, and they couldn't get the damn lid down.
4-16-CHI357:46The Colts' punt unit, perfectly happy to concede 5 yards here, lets the clock run all the way down. Delay of game.
4-21-CHI407:31Hunter Smith punts. Devin Hester fair-catches at the 8.
AD!AD!Hannibal Rising: Remember a million years ago when Silence of the Lambs swept the Oscars? Coming next year: Hannibal vs. Predator.
AD!AD! Another "jungle" ad, the first in a while with people getting hurt. A guy burns his feet. A guy gets a wedgie. A man falls from a great height. (Deaths: 12. Injuries: 28.)
1-10-CHI87:27OK, no time for jibber-jabber. The Bears are down by 12, which means they need two touchdowns. Though there's no need yet to start throwing bombs, Chicago does need to keep the ball moving, and it does need to watch the clock. So here we go: Rex Grossman opens with an 8-yard pass to Desmond Clark, who nearly drops it. You'd think it goes without saying that a team in this position will be going no-huddle. Except that in Super Bowl XXXIX, the Eagles were in almost this exact same position, and they didn't. The Bears, however, are back to the line and ready to go within 10 seconds of Clark being tackled.
2-2-CHI167:09Grossman hits Clark at the 23 yard line, picking up the first down. If he runs to the sideline, Clark can pick up 2 or 3 yards and kill the clock with 7:03 to go. Instead, he cuts to the inside and picks up the same 3 yards before being tackled, and the clock keeps ticking -- 16 seconds lost. A team in Indy's position will give you as many of those 8-yard curls as you want, so long as you stay in bounds.
1-10-CHI266:46Everybody say it with me: Grossman hits Clark for 8 yards, who again turns inside rather than toward the sidelines, and falls down.
2-2-CHI346:26I love this call: Thomas Jones, on a draw play, picks up the first down easily. But once he does, he skips a chance to step out and instead pushes forward for 5 more yards that costs the team 21 seconds. Simms says there's plenty of time, and he's right -- if you're smart with the clock.
1-10-CHI466:01Pass incomplete to Clark. Stops the clock at least.
2-10-CHI465:55Grossman dumps it off to Jones for a gain of 2 and a loss of 15 seconds. At this point, if you're not going to gain, say, 5 yards, just throw it away.
3-8-CHI485:32Um, maybe you didn't hear me: IF YOU'RE NOT GOING TO GAIN 5 YARDS, JUST THROW IT AWAY. Grossman passes to Jones in the flat for a loss of 1 as Marlin Jackson shuts down the play. Jackson is injured, which is fortunate for the Bears in two ways. First, it stops the clock after 9 seconds. Second, it removes from the game the dangerous DB who, you'll remember, picked off Tom Brady to finally slam the door on the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Matt Giordano replaces Jackson.
4-9-CHI475:13Grossman, who'd thrown to Clark exactly once before this drive, goes to him for the fifth time in eight plays. Clark catches it at the Colts 40 -- and the replay makes it pretty clear that it's a catch -- but Giordano blows him up and he fumbles. Antoine Bethea picks it up, but by now the officials are calling it incomplete. Since it's fourth down, it doesn't much matter. As we watch the replay, Simms says, "Desmond Clark has no idea he's about to be unloaded on by Giordano." I'd think that any player going over the middle against a nickel defense would expect to be unloaded on by somebody. That's why no one wants to go over the middle. Total wasted time on this drive: 1 minute, 1 second.
1-10-CHI475:05Still no commercial break. And still no acknowledgement by Nantz and Simms that, with the way the Colts have been moving the ball in the second half, this game is about over. I know they want everyone to hang around for Criminal Minds, but sometimes a refusal to state the obvious is even more annoying than stating the obvious. The Colts' drive starts with Dominic Rhodes going off left end for no gain.
2-10-CHI474:23Peyton Manning uses up the whole 40-second clock before handing off to Rhodes, who runs through a ridiculous, enormous hole for 15 yards.
1-10-CHI323:38Another 40 seconds. Rhodes for 2.
2-8-CHI302:54Another 40 seconds. Rhodes for 9, and the first down. Nantz urges us to stick around for the two-minute warning to see the winning ad in the NFL Network's design-an-ad contest. Don't bother sticking around for the Lombardi Trophy presentation or to find out who's the MVP. Just stick around for the ad.
1-10-CHI212:08Another 40 seconds. Rhodes for no gain. Ryan Lilja gets nailed for holding, and though the Bears decline it because they don't want to give Indy an extra down, the penalty delays the inevitable -- er, I mean, stops the clock just shy of the two-minute warning. Aw, come on! I want to see that commercial!
2-10-CHI212:01Rhodes for 4.
AD!AD!Honda: Cars driving around on salt flats. Wow, I've never seen an ad with cars driving on salt flats. Tagline is "The Most Fuel-Efficient Car Company in America." Because guess where Honda Accords are made? Guess where Ford Fusions are made?
AD!AD! Same dumb ad that ran after the first quarter. On second viewing, it appears that the little person in this ad is Mini-Me, not Wee Man. Well, gee, I guess it's not a piece of shit after all.
AD!AD!Snapple: Susprisingly, it took Snapple this long to climb on the green tea bandwagon.
AD!AD!NFL Network: In the contest-winning ad, football fans weep over the end of another season. The big payoff at the end is that Brett Favre doesn't want to say goodbye either. I'm sorry, but that looks an awful lot like stock footage of Favre.
3-6-CHI171:56As we return, Nantz tells us that Bob Sanders' number, 21, is the same number Dungy wore when he was in the secondary of the Steelers! BFD. Rhodes is stopped for no gain, and the Bears pick a funny time to start calling timeouts.
4-6-CHI171:49I love this call, too: Colts forgo the field-goal attempt rather than risk something going wrong -- or, even if it's good, risk kicking off to Devin Hester. I'm sure Chicago fans are incensed that Indianapolis just totally avoided Hester after the opening kickoff, but really, it's pretty funny. The Colts counted on Rex Grossman and his merry men being so toothless that they could give the Bears the ball with great field position all day, and it wouldn't cost them anything. Rhodes gains 1 yard on fourth down. All through the play, the announcers are doing their best to use up all their remaining Dungy material: The Colts hired him the day after the Bucs fired him. Every year at training camp he tells players that they'd better listen up, because he's not going to shout. Also: "He's never said a curse word." Really? No fucking way.
1-10-CHI161:42This is it. Rex Grossman to Desmond Clark for 9 yards.
2-1-CHI251:2214-yard pass to Bernard Berrian. Hey, Bernard Berrian! Long time, no see.
1-10-CHI391:068-yard pass to Thomas Jones. A holding penalty, the final indignity, brings it back 10 yards. We see archive footage from Dungy's first year as the Tampa Bay coach, when the Bucs still wore the orange uniforms.
2-20-CHI290:56Sad little 5-yard pass to Berrian. Just end it already.
2-15-CHI340:36A run! That's the spirit! Thomas Jones for 12 yards, though Nantz for some reason says 9. Dungy gets the bucket.
3-3-CHI460:15Grossman's final pass in a Chicago Bear uniform goes to Clark for 18 yards. With that, the Bears have crossed into Indianapolis territory!

As the final whistle sounds, Peyton Manning walks onto the field with his fist held aloft. You'd think that upon achieving not only his lifelong dream but that of his father, too, he'd crack a smile wider than the sour-yogurt grin he displayed when his idiot kicker went wide right in last year's playoffs. But nope, not much of a smile here. With all the crap he's had to put up with, maybe he's just relieved. Tony Dungy rides off on his players' shoulders, then embraces Lovie Smith. Manning is named MVP, which will give people a chance to hate him some more. Me, I'd have picked co-MVPs, like they did in Super Bowl XII, and gone with Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes. But the Manning award doesn't really bug me: If no single player is the obvious choice, they'll just give it to the QB of the winning team. Don Shula, for some reason, brings the Lombardi Trophy out past all the Colts players, each of whom puts a hand on it as it passes. Except Marvin Harrison, who's talking on his cellphone. Dick. Either Harrison sees himself on the Jumbotron or whoever he's talking to tells him he's on TV, because he quickly hides the phone. Shula carries the trophy up to this bizarre spaceship-looking podium that's far too small for all the people on it. The commissioner presents the trophy to Colts owner Jim Irsay, who starts screaming about God, and that's as good a place as any to say: Good night from Miami!