Rozner: Hardly feels like 10 years since Chicago Bears' Super Bowl

  • Photo courtesy of Patrick MannellyIn this photo from 2006, former NFL star Dan Marino tosses the coin before Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears.

    Photo courtesy of Patrick MannellyIn this photo from 2006, former NFL star Dan Marino tosses the coin before Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears.

  • Daily Herald file photo/Ed LeePeyton Manning and Brian Urlacher shake hands at mid field befor the coin toss. Chicago Bears Vs Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl XLI in Miami.

    Daily Herald file photo/Ed LeePeyton Manning and Brian Urlacher shake hands at mid field befor the coin toss. Chicago Bears Vs Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl XLI in Miami.

  • RICK WEST/rwest@dailyherald.com/2006 fileBrian Urlacher walks dejectedly off the field amid a sea of confetti following the Bears' loss to the Colts at Super Bowl XLI in Miami.

    RICK WEST/rwest@dailyherald.com/2006 fileBrian Urlacher walks dejectedly off the field amid a sea of confetti following the Bears' loss to the Colts at Super Bowl XLI in Miami.

  • RICK WEST/rwest@dailyherald.com/2006 fileChicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher collects himself as he leaves the field after Super Bowl XLI at Dolphin Stadium in Miami.

    RICK WEST/rwest@dailyherald.com/2006 fileChicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher collects himself as he leaves the field after Super Bowl XLI at Dolphin Stadium in Miami.

 
 
Updated 2/1/2017 11:10 AM

Early in the morning of Feb. 5, 2007, the field at Dolphin Stadium was a muddy, filthy mess.

Just past midnight, the rain in Miami had finally stopped, though a quick walk across the field -- there was no security in sight -- revealed puddles and shredded turf, amid the confetti and assorted garbage.

 

It was no consolation to the Bears or Colts that a massive storm had let up an hour beyond the postgame celebration.

"As much as anything, I remember the rain," laughs Patrick Mannelly. "It was just miserable. Usually, in South Florida you get a storm and it rolls through in 30 minutes. This one lasted five hours."

Saturday will mark the 10-year anniversary of the Chicago Bears' last Super Bowl appearance, a 29-17 defeat to Indianapolis that feels stunningly fresh to the former Bears long snapper.

"I retired three years ago," said Mannelly, one of the best special-teams players in the NFL during his 16-year career. "The Super Bowl feels like four years ago.

"I remember walking off the field having lost the Super Bowl, thinking, 'It never entered my mind once that we could lose.' I knew we would win and I couldn't wait to get back to Chicago and celebrate with the fans, have that parade.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The feeling of losing that game, well, until the last second you don't believe it. It's surreal. All of a sudden, the Colts are celebrating, hugging, running around, having the time of their lives.

"All you can think is, 'It could have been us. It should have been us.' I had to watch them for a while. You have to take it in. It's history. Then, you see all those other people coming out onto the field and they start rolling the stage out. That was enough for me. I walked in."

The Bears have played in just two playoff games since -- both after the 2010 season -- and captured only one -- over the 7-9 Seahawks.

"That's shocking to me," Mannelly said. "With the talent we had and as young as we were, the feeling was we had a good chance to get back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"You need some luck. We got a lot of bounces that year, but you need some of that. With our talent I thought for sure we would sniff it again, if not win it.

"But Father Time is undefeated and our guys started to get older and we didn't do a good job drafting and replacing guys. It's unfortunate that we never got back there."

Super Bowl XLI started in perfect fashion, with Devin Hester returning the opening kick for a touchdown.

"We thought there was no way they would kick to him. I was jumping up and down and then I was scrambling, looking for my helmet for the PAT," Mannelly said. "They spotted us 7 points. We were in a great spot. After that, we knew we'd have great field position the rest of the night."

But after the first quarter, the Bears were outscored 23-3. In the last 49 minutes, the Bears' offense was outscored by the Colts' defense. Rex Grossman was predictably atrocious, throwing 2 interceptions, a pick-6 and fumbling twice, losing one.

The Bears lost the turnover battle 5-3 and the Colts rushed for 191 yards, mostly through the heart of the Bears' defense. Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai ran wild, while the Bears got away from Thomas Jones, who carried 15 times for 112 yards.

For some reason, they put the game in the hands of Grossman, who could barely get a snap clean, let alone complete a pass.

And the score was still only 22-17 with 12 minutes remaining in the game when Grossman threw it to Indy backup corner Kelvin Hayden, who returned it 56 yards for the touchdown.

In the fourth quarter, the Bears didn't cross midfield until the final play of the game, a meaningless completion by Grossman to Desmond Clark, to the Indy 36 as time ran out.

"One problem we had as players was Thomas Jones was rushing it well," Mannelly said. "We were one of the few teams -- at the time -- to run for over 100 yards and lose the Super Bowl. We should have kept feeding him, let the offensive line control the game. We felt like the ball was taken out of his hands.

"There was the Cover-2 mess-up when (safety) Danieal Manning didn't get the check and Reggie Wayne gets behind everyone for their first touchdown.

"Mistakes and turnovers. I didn't feel like the superior team won the game."

But it's not all bad when thoughts of the Super Bowl XLI pop into Mannelly's head.

"I do think about it from time to time. I think about getting a chance to play in the Super Bowl. I guess you think more about that part as you get older," said the 41-year-old Mannelly. "I think about what it would have been like to win. I wonder what that feeling would have been like.

"But I also think about the preparation for that game, being at the team hotel and going to University of Miami to practice, realizing it's the Super Bowl you're practicing for.

"It's not Week 7. It's the fricken' Super Bowl. Everything's magnified. You just keep thinking, 'This is Super Bowl week.'

"You're having dinner on South Beach and your team is in the Super Bowl. You just keep saying the words 'Super Bowl' in your head.

"That's what sticks in my mind. It's a pretty darn cool memory."

One that hardly seems like 10 years ago.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.