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SUPER BOWL XLI | COLTS 29, BEARS 17 | NOTES

If it looks like a BCS start, it's bad news for the Bears

February 05, 2007|Sam Farmer | From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Billy Joel was barely done with the national anthem before Super Bowl XLI when the Chicago Bears got the early jolt they wanted with a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by rookie Devin Hester only 14 seconds into the game at Miami.

The first touchdown runback of an opening kick in Super Bowl history put Indianapolis in a 7-0 hole. But it ended up being reminiscent of college football's 2007 Bowl Championship Series title game, played at Glendale, Ariz. In that game, Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr. returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, giving Ohio State a 7-0 lead only 16 seconds into the game, but the Buckeyes lost, 41-14, to Florida.

On Sunday, Hester never got another chance at a kickoff return. Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri spent the rest of the game delivering squib kicks to avoid Hester, who played college ball at Miami and set an NFL record with six kick returns for touchdowns this season.

"We knew deep down that we were capable of returning one," Hester said. "But when it all boils down, that return didn't mean a thing. The only thing that really matters is who came out with the victory."

Bears tight end Gabe Reid fielded one of those kickoffs in the first quarter and fumbled it back to the Colts, who promptly fumbled it back.

Another bad sign for the Bears may have come before kickoff. Chicago won the coin toss: Over the last 11 years, the coin-toss winner has lost the Super Bowl nine times.

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Peyton Manning was chosen as the most valuable player, but running backs Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes also played pivotal roles for the Colts.

Rhodes gained 113 yards in 21 carries and Addai, the rookie from Louisiana State, added 77 yards rushing in 19 carries and had 10 receptions for another 66 yards.

"Peyton understood he had a lot of players to take advantage of, so he didn't have to do it himself," Addai said.

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Bears quarterback Rex Grossman wrapped up $1 million in playoff bonuses in his team's loss to the Colts.

Grossman received a $500,000 bonus for playing in at least 70% of the offensive plays during the Super Bowl. Two weeks ago, he earned $500,000 for doing the same thing in the NFC championship game. The $1 million in bonuses almost doubles Grossman's base salary of $625,000 this season.

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Hundreds crowded onto Monument Circle in subfreezing temperatures in downtown Indianapolis to celebrate the Colts' Super Bowl victory.

Police reported some traffic tie-ups and a few alcohol-related incidents but said there was no violence.

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Now that Tony Corrente has completed his duties as the head of the crew that officiated Super Bowl XLI, he can go back to teaching social studies at a high school in La Mirada.

Fortunately for Corrente, a former California Interscholastic Federation official who began working games in 1971, he didn't make history.

Penalties were not a big factor in the game's outcome. The Colts were flagged six times and the Bears four. One call, a sideline catch first ruled incomplete, was reversed.

-- Sam Farmer

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