Colts 29, Bears 17: Super Bowl 41: February 4, 2007
The Bears were back in the Super Bowl. I repeat, the Bears were back in the Super Bowl for the first time in 21 years. It seems like a dream. It was a wonderful two weeks leading up to the big game to bask in Bear wonderment in frigid Chicago. My pick was that if the weather was ugly in rainy Miami, which should have slowed down Peyton Manning’s attack, and if the Bears could score first, they would win.
Those things happened, but the Bears didn’t win.
The game opened with one of the most thrilling moments any Bears fan has witnessed. Rookie phenom Devin Hester stood to receive the opening kickoff of the game, and all Indianapolis eyes were on him as he had already scored on six return touchdowns in the regular season. But they watched in amazement as no matter how they tried, they could not bring him down. Hester first took the kick straight up the middle, paused, then turned on the jets up the right sideline, 92 yards for the first opening kickoff touchdown return in Super Bowl history.
The Bears played solid defense in the beginning of the game, holding until Manning hit Reggie Wayne on a 53-yard touchdown pass aided by blown coverage by Chicago rookie safety Danieal Manning. But the football gods seemed to be smiling on the Bears when Indianapolis missed the extra point.
The Bears still led 7-6 and added seven more points to that lead when quarterback Rex Grossman hit wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad on a touchdown pass.
But the game unraveled from there. Indianapolis scored four times in a row, leading 22-14 in the third, until the Bears drew within five points on a Robbie Gould field goal.
At this point Grossman began to press, as Bear fans learned in late 2006 and beyond he had a tendency to do. All but abandoning the running game in the driving rain, Grossman threw and threw, eventually tossing the ball into the hands of Colt defensive back Kelvin Hayden, who returned the gift 56 yards for the clinching Colt touchdown. The Bear magic of 2006 was over.
After the game, Bear defenders gathered at the end of the field, telling each other they wanted to watch the Colts celebrate, so the Bears would know how to do it “next time.” So far there has not been a “next time” for the Bears in the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl, three years removed from that night that started so magically.