Tue, Feb 06, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Manning, Colts win Super Bowl

SLOPPY AND EXCITINGIndianapolis won the NFL's biggest game on a soaked field behind the passing of their star quarterback and Chicago's four turnovers

AP , MIAMI, FLORIDA

Quarterback Peyton Manning, right, of the Indianapolis Colts attempts a pass against the Chicago Bears during Super Bowl XLI on Sunday at Dolphins Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Manning completed 25 of 38 passes for 247 yards and one touchdown to lead Indianapolis to a 29-17 win over the Bears.

PHOTO: AFP

Purple rain at the Super Bowl and golden memories for Peyton Man-ning, coach Tony Dungy and the Indianapolis Colts.

In a sloppy, exciting, rain-soaked NFL title game on Sunday, the Colts defeated the Chicago Bears 29-17 behind 247 yards passing from Manning, the quarterback who finally won the big game after nine record-setting seasons that were missing little besides a championship ring.

"We put a lot of hard work and a lot of effort into this," said Manning, who was named the game's Most Valuable Player. "It's all happening pretty fast right now. I'm excited. It's something we'll enjoy for quite some time."

It was a surreal scene for the NFL's showcase game, which has been played indoors or in perfect weather for almost all of the previous 40 Super Bowls.

But not this time.

In an old-fashioned southern Florida soaker, the football squirted loose and bounced all over the waterlogged field. The rain resulted in eight turnovers, including two late interceptions thrown by Chicago's Rex Grossman that sealed the game for Indianapolis.

"It wasn't what you'd expect, coming down to Miami," Manning said.

At halftime, Prince took to the stage and sang through the deluge, with the violet stage lights shining into the storm to make the perfect setting for his hit finale, Purple Rain.

When the crazy evening was over, the Colts had brought the first NFL title back to Indianapolis, where their late owner, Robert Irsay, relocated the the team in 1984.

And Manning finally became a champion. The game and entire week served as proof that nice guys don't always finish last.

The sight of Manning, the solid citizen, and Dungy, his soft-spoken coach, soaking up the rain -- along with the confetti and the hugs -- as they held the Vince Lombardi trophy was a moment to remember.

These men also made it notable by the way they conducted themselves -- two quiet, churchgoing, kindhearted leaders who proved they could succeed without shouting, intimidating, bullying or humiliating players to do it.

This was not a football masterpiece. In fact, very little about the game went by the book.

It began with a 92-yard kickoff return by Chicago's Devin Hester for a 7-0 lead 14 seconds into the game.

As the rain picked up, the conditions made this look less like a meeting between the league's best teams and more like a contest to survive the elements.

The Colts turned out to be much better.

Manning threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne and finished 25-for-38 for a touchdown and an interception. The Colts dominated the game statistically -- gaining 430 yards to only 265 for Chicago -- but didn't put it away until early in the fourth quarter, when second-year cornerback Kelvin Hayden intercepted Grossman's pass and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown and a 29-17 lead.

Manning will have plenty of good memories from this one, a game in which he picked and poked through the rain and the Bears to win the title that eluded him for so long.

"He's a tremendous player, a great leader," Dungy said. "He prepares, he works, he does everything he can do to win ballgames and lead teams. If people say he needed to win a Super Bowl to validate it and justify it, that's just wrong."

While Manning and the rest battled the elements, most of the US enjoyed this one from the comfort of living rooms and bars across the country. Around 140 million tuned in to what is traditionally the most-viewed TV show in the US. Many watched as much for the commercials, the halftime show and the rest of what has become the country's biggest unofficial holiday as they did for the game itself.

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