ESSAY: Chicago Bears' Ogunleye – From Staten Island to Super Bowl

1 Comment » February 3rd, 2007 posted by // Categories: Favorite Articles

From Staten Island to Super Bowl

Ogunleye beat expectations just to make NFL, much less Super Bowl

by jason bailey / metro new york

FEB 2, 2007

Adewale Ogunleye

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One Response to “ESSAY: Chicago Bears' Ogunleye – From Staten Island to Super Bowl”

  1. NigerianMuse says:


    Colts win Super Bowl
    By Clifton Brown

    Sunday, February 4, 2007
    In a rainy Super Bowl XLI, the Indianapolis Colts refused to let an elusive championship slip away.

    Peyton Manning no longer has to worry about a career without a Super Bowl title. Tony Dungy, who joined Lovie Smith as the first African-American coaches in the Super Bowl, became the first African-American coach to win it. The Colts’ defense, often maligned for being too soft against the run and too unreliable in key situations, forced five turnovers and held the Chicago Bears to just three points in the second half to secure a 29-17 victory on Sunday at Dolphin Stadium.

    The Colts won their long-awaited championship after falling short in the playoffs during the previous three seasons. Indianapolis conquered demons along the way, defeating an old nemesis, the New England Patriots, in the American Football Conference championship game, before winning the Lombardi Trophy.

    The Colts won, not as the Manning show, but as a team. Kelvin Hayden, a backup cornerback, made one of the game’s biggest plays with a little less than 12 minutes left to play, intercepting a floating pass by Rex Grossman along the sideline and returning the ball 56 yards for the Colts’ final touchdown to give them a 12-point lead. It was the first career interception for Hayden, who was only in the game because Nick Harper was injured.

    On Chicago’s next possession, Grossman was intercepted again by Bob Sanders, and the celebrating began in Indianapolis, while the disappointment sunk in on the Bears’ sideline.

    The Colts’ win was the franchise’s first since the 1970 season, and it gave the AFC its fourth consecutive Super Bowl win and sixth victory in the last seven games. Indianapolis won with a balanced attack, Manning throwing it, Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes running it, and the Colts’ offensive line dominating the line of scrimmage.

    Rhodes rushed for 113 yards on 21 carries, and Addai gained 77 yards on 19 carries and caught 10 passes for 66 yards.

    The Colts took a 22-17 lead into the fourth quarter, and the Bears were fortunate to be that close. Indianapolis moved the ball consistently during the first three quarters, and Addai, a rookie, was the offensive star. Addai broke tackles as a runner, and caught passes effectively as a receiver. When Addai was not hurting the Bears, his backup, Rhodes, ran the ball effectively as well.

    Once Indianapolis moved into scoring position, however, Chicago’s defense became stingy. The Bears forced the Colts to settle for three field goals, including twice when Indianapolis had moved inside Chicago’s 10. Keeping the Colts out of the end zone kept the Bears in the game, and Robbie Gould’s 44-yard field goal late in the third quarter pulled Chicago within a touchdown with 15 minutes remaining.

    After an unpredictable first half loaded with turnovers, long-yardage touchdowns and momentum swings, the Colts went to the locker room leading, 16-14. It was the first Super Bowl played in the rain, and the wet weather seemed to have a major impact. Nothing could be taken for granted, not even extra points. Both teams struggled with the wet football, and each committed three turnovers during the first half. Twice, there were turnovers on consecutive plays.

    As the rain fell steadily during the first half, the miscues followed. The Colts botched an extra point when holder Hunter Smith dropped the snap. Bears quarterback Rex Grossman fumbled a snap from center in the second quarter. With the slick ball, nerves and hard hitting, the atmosphere was ripe for turnovers.

    To look away from the field, even for an instant, meant taking the risk of missing a big play. In the previous five Super Bowls, there were no touchdowns in the first quarter. In this game, the first touchdown was scored in 14 seconds, as Devin Hester sprinted 92 yards with the opening kickoff, the longest opening return in Super Bowl history.

    As Hester, pro football’s most dangerous special-teams player, streaked down the field, perhaps Dungy was second-guessing himself for not kicking away from him. Hester returned six kicks for touchdowns during the regular season, and many teams would rather kick away from Hester than take the chance of being forced to kick themselves.

    "Devin Hester is a big concern," Dungy said last week. "He’s a guy that’s changed games."

    On this occasion, Hester changed the scoreboard. Starting to his right, cutting back to his left and bursting through a seam in the middle of the Colts’ kickoff team, Hester accelerated into the open field, faked past place-kicker Adam Vinatieri, and won the footrace to the end zone. Bears fans went crazy, the Colts’ bench was momentarily shocked, and the Bears had a 7-0 lead. On their next kickoff, and several afterward, the Colts kicked the ball away from Hester.

    A quick score in the Super Bowl can often begin a downward spiral for the opposing team, but the Colts are a resilient group. They overcame an 18-point deficit against New England in the AFC championship game, and they overcame Hester’s return.

    The Bears made a huge defensive mistake on the Colts’ second possession, opening the door for Indianapolis. On third-and-7, Manning eluded Chicago’s rush and bought a few more seconds to look downfield.

    What Manning saw was wide receiver Reggie Wayne all alone, left uncovered by Bears safety Chris Harris. Manning floated the pass to Wayne, who easily ran to the end zone to complete a 53-yard scoring play.

    Chicago maintained a 7-6 lead after the touchdown, however, when the wet ball came into play. Smith dropped the hold, and Vinatieri never got the kick away.

    Another mistake by the Colts led to Chicago’s second touchdown.

    Bears defensive end Alex Brown burst into the backfield and disrupted the handoff from Manning to Addai. The ball popped loose, and it was recovered by defensive end Mark Anderson at Chicago’s 34.

    On the next play, Thomas Jones had his longest run of the season, bursting through a gaping hole and scampering 52 yards before being caught from behind at the Colts’ 5. On third-and-goal from the 4, Grossman found Muhsin Muhammad, who eluded Harper in the end zone. The extra point gave the Bears a 14-6 lead, but in this game, it was hardly safe.

    A 29-yard field goal by Vinatieri early in the second quarter cut the Bears’ lead to 14-9. Slowly but steadily, the game’s momentum was changing, as Indianapolis ran the ball effectively with Addai, and the Bears struggled to run or throw effectively.

    Indianapolis took its first lead with just over six minutes left before halftime, driving 58 yards in seven plays. Rhodes ran the final 16 yards of the drive, plunging into the end zone from the 1-yard line, and Vinatieri’s extra point gave the Colts a 16-14 lead.

    Just before halftime, the Colts squandered a chance to increase their lead when Vinatieri hooked his 36-yard field-goal attempt wide left. Normally, Vinatieri is automatic from that range, but these were not normal conditions. Indianapolis took a rwo-point lead into the third quarter, but both teams knew that this was a strange Super Bowl that was far from being decided.

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