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51 for LI: Super Bowl XLI Was Peyton’s Place

[lead align=”default”]The Super Bowl for the 2016 season is but 41 days away. There once was a forgettable Super Bowl called Super Bowl XLI.[/lead]

Before Eli Manning got his first championship, Peyton Manning did first. As a matter of fact, it was just a year earlier. On a rainy night in South Florida, it happened.

Super Bowl XLI: How They Got There

The Indianapolis Colts under Peyton Manning seemed like they’d always be the bridesmaid but never the bride. While New England kept going to Super Bowls, the Colts and Manning found ways to gag it up in the playoffs. One of the key additions for this team was Adam Vinatieri, the former Pats kicker who won, and won, and won again.

In the AFC title game, the Colts faced New England. Tom Brady and the Pats put them back 21-3 early, but Indy fought back and with the game on the line, Manning led them down the field for the victory. The Colts had certainly never come back from 18 down in an AFC title game before, but this time, it got them to the Super Bowl for the first time in 36 years.

On the NFC side, one team emerged: the Chicago Bears. Not since the days of Ditka did they make the big game, but their season looked special thanks to their defense. The offense produced as well, though quarterback Rex Grossman hardly lit up the scoreboard. Average was good enough for him to help the Bears to a 13-3 record, and then they sliced through the playoffs to make their second Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XLI: The Game

In the wettest Super Bowl in memory, people forgot about the weather very quickly. Devin Hester of the Bears ran back the opening kick for a touchdown to get Chicago on the board immediately. Both teams would trade offensive touchdowns (Vinatieri missed a PAT) later in the first, for a 14-6 Chicago lead.

At the half, however, Indianapolis lead 16-14. A field goal and a Dominic Rhodes touchdown gave the Colts the lead going into Prince’s halftime show.

Indy never looked back from there. The Colts defense, much maligned in prior playoff runs as not being good enough to complement Manning and the offense, held Chicago to just three points in the second half. Indianapolis tacked on three more field goals, and a pick six off of Grossman early in the fourth quarter iced it.

This was the first of two Super Bowl titles for Peyton Manning, but he’d have to wait nine years, three days for his last. It wasn’t the best game, and in fact it wasn’t a good one, but the Colts enjoyed it.

Super Bowl XLI: Highlights

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