Colts win Super Bowl XLI
Joe Montana, John Elway, Roger Staubach, Joe Namath, Troy Aikman and Terry Bradshaw.
And now, finally, Peyton Manning.
The Colts star and two-time league MVP took his place in the pantheon of Super Bowl winning quarterbacks after leading Indianapolis to a 29-17 victory over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI in Miami Sunday night.
Manning, playing in his first Super Bowl after nine seasons in the NFL, has been dogged for years by critics who said he couldn't win a big game.
But no more, not after Sunday's performance when he threw for close to 250 yards and tossed one touchdown in the first Super Bowl to be played in the rain.
For his magnificent role in the Colts' win, Manning was named the Super Bowl MVP.
"Everybody did their part. We worked together," Manning said after hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Among those who "did their part" were running backs Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes, who combined for 190 yards — 113 on 21 carries by Rhodes and 77 on 10 carries by Addai, who also had 66 yards receiving.
The victory secured the Colts their inaugural Super Bowl title since moving from Baltimore to Indianapolis in 1984. The Baltimore Colts won the Super Bowl in 1971.
This game also featured two African-American head coaches, a Super Bowl milestone. It was the Colts' Tony Dungy who emerged victorious over Lovie Smith, his Chicago counterpart and close friend.
"I'm proud to be the first African-American coach to win this," Dungy said during the trophy ceremony. "But again, more than anything, Lovie Smith and I are not only African-American but also Christian coaches, showing you can do it the Lord's way. We're more proud of that."
Dungy also joined Mike Ditka and Tom Flores as the only men to win Super Bowl titles as both players and coaches. Dungy was a backup safety for the championship Pittsburgh Steelers 28 years ago.
Rainy weather, Manning's skill will be remembered
This Super Bowl will be mainly remembered for two things: the miserable weather conditions and Manning's brilliant precision in comparison to the anaemic play of Chicago quarterback Rex Grossman.
While Manning (25-for-38, 247 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception) engineered several lengthy drives, the much-maligned Grossman (20-for-28, 165 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions) struggled to move the Bears down the field.
"A frustrating loss," Grossman said. "There were definitely opportunities for us to take that game and we didn't do it."
As for the weather, players slipped and slid on the slick field throughout the game because of the steady rain and windy conditions, which led to some sloppy mistakes and a record four turnovers in the first quarter. In total, the teams combined for six turnovers (five fumbles and one interception) in the first half.
The game started with a bang when rookie Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown to give the Bears a surprising lead after only 20 seconds. Hester made history on the play, as it was the first time ever during a Super Bowl game that the opening kickoff was returned for a touchdown.
Manning threw an interception on the second drive of the game, but drove his team downfield on Indianapolis' next possession and threw a 53-yard touchdown strike to a wide open Reggie Wayne.
The Colts holder botched the snap, though, so the Colts could not convert the point afterward.
Indianapolis got the ball right back when the Bears fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but on the next play, the Colts fumbled the ball and the Bears recovered. Chicago took advantage of the turnover when Grossman tossed a four-yard touchdown to Muhsin Muhammad to give the Bears a 14-6 lead.
Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri booted a 29-yard field goal early in the second quarter and Indianapolis took the lead when Manning put together a seven-play, 58-yard drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run from Rhodes.
Chicago suffered a bit of blow when backup running back Cedric Benson injured his left knee early in the first quarter and was ruled out for the rest of the game.
Following a halftime show that featured a live performance by recording artist Prince, the Colts ate up over seven minutes of the clock on a 13-play drive to start the third quarter. But the drive stalled inside the Bears' 20-yard line and Indianapolis had to settle for a field goal.
Another lengthy drive grounded to a halt inside the Bears' red zone on the Colts' next possession and Indianapolis kicked another field goal to lead 22-14.
Bears kicker Robbie Gould connected on a 44-yard field goal late in the quarter to cut the deficit to five points.
The Colts put the game away early in the fourth quarter when Kelvin Hayden picked off a Grossman pass and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown.
"In hindsight, I wish I had thrown it away," Grossman said. "The timing on it wasn't right."
After that, the Colts' defence held the Bears off the scoreboard to cruise to victory.
"That's been our theme all year — we've won as a team. No panic, we stayed calm throughout the entire game. I'm proud to be part of this team," Manning said. "It's hard to put it into words."