Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl Impressions -- I would have offered two forecasts, if I had the time to post earlier. The first was a soft one: that Devon Hester would return a kick for a score -- probably the opening kickoff of whichever half the Bears were on the receiving end. Just before the kickoff, I remarked that he was going to take it all the way. Yea for me! Second, was a hard prediction that the Colts would score enough to overcome the underwhelming Bears' attack. I hit that one, too.

The Colts have shown real resilience in these playoffs, coming from way back against the Patriots, and overcoming a rough start in tonight's finale. Any talk that this is not a tough team should be forever ridiculed. Now that they have finally won a title, the question must be asked if the Colts are a great team -- or merely a good team that got hot at the right time?

They have developed a strong rushing attack again this year, despite the loss of Edgerrin James. And they have, undeniably, one of the greatest passing attacks in the history of the game. Manning has his flaws, but he is still among the greats. His receivers are truly extraordinary. I cannot recall a better tandem of receivers since at least the days of Jerry Rice and John Taylor, and that was a pretty one-sided tandem. In fact, I'm inclined to go further back to the Steelers' incomparable duo of Lynn Swann and Jon Stallworth, or the Cowboys' pairing of Drew Pearson and Tony Hill. The Chargers had some good pairings during the Fouts' era, the Vikings had a brief fling with Randy Moss and Chris Carter, and I think the Bengals have a talented group. None of those earlier pairs will produce two Hall of Famers, though.

Marvin Harrison is already a shoo-in for enshrinement at Canton. Tonight, he offered a reminder of prodigious skills, with his lay-out for the sideline pass that was ruled a catch only after the referee checked the replay. Reggie Wayne isn't a future Hall-of-Famer...yet. Wayne actually had a better year than Harrison. He also made an eye-popping catch tonight, even though he wasn't able to get his feet down in the end zone. It's still early in Wayne's career to make this call -- but, with Manning throwing him the ball, and with defenses having to worry about covering the Colts' other receiving threats, Wayne is on his way to building Hall-of-Fame credentials.

Sure, the Colts don't have a great defense, but the playoffs showed the defense is capable of coming up big. More importantly, there are teams that were considered great, even though they were mostly one-way affairs...most memorably, the 1985 Chicago Bears, who turned in the finest season any defense ever played, without much of a passing attack to help. Though he was near the end of his career, Walter Payton gained enough yards to give the defense some rest -- but it was the defense that made those Bears great. The Cowboys in the Troy Aikman era may have had a better defense than the Colts have now, but it was their potent offense that made that dynasty.

So, are the Colts a great team? They had the worst rushing defense in the league, and they did not play well over the last couple of months. Yet, we shouldn't forget that for the first two and half months, everyone wondered if the Colts would go undefeated. A great team? The Colts aren't a dynasty yet, but this was a team that deserves to be remembered for the greatness of its offense, as the '85 Bears are remembered for their incomparable defense.

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