Monday, January 22, 2007

Bears Indy Superbowl!

Grossman comes through in biggest game

By RICK GANO, AP Sports WriterJanuary 22, 2007

CHICAGO (AP) -- As a jubilant
Rex Grossman celebrated the biggest win of his life, he found time to share an embrace with the man who stood behind him all season. Coach Lovie Smith wouldn't budge. He stuck with his often-criticized young quarterback -- despite some erratic performances and loud cries for a change.

"I just kind of hugged him and told him I loved him," Smith said after the Bears earned their first trip to the Super Bowl in 21 years by beating the
New Orleans Saints 39-14. "I just knew what he had been through this year and it was only fitting that he got a chance to celebrate like that."

Grossman was so happy Sunday after kneeling to run out the clock in the closing seconds of Sunday's victory that he heaved a ball into the stands. He called his exchange with Smith a special moment, as well.

"I know what he's been through, all the things that he's changed in our program and everyone has bought into it and really executed the way he's wanted," Grossman said. "It's just fun to see good people like that accomplish great things."

When the Bears won in their only other Super Bowl appearance in 1986, beating the Patriots 46-10, they featured a quirky quarterback named Jim McMahon. Grossman was 5 years old at the time.

Now the Bears are finally going back, this time to play
Peyton Manning and the Colts. They've been talking about reaching the Super Bowl since offseason workouts last spring.

"We've got one more win before we can call ourselves world champions," Grossman said. Grossman's numbers -- 11 of 26 for 144 yards -- certainly weren't great Sunday. That's not what mattered, though, on a snowy day at Soldier Field.

Grossman was just 3-for-12 for 37 yards at the half and the Bears twice settled for field goals after getting inside the New Orleans' 10. A couple throws were dropped, a couple off-target. "I was a little conservative in the first half," Grossman said. "I didn't want to make a mistake. ... We missed a few plays and wished we had touchdowns."

But when Chicago's running game momentarily bogged down in the second half and the game got tight, Grossman stepped up with pinpoint passes.
He completed four throws in a row, three of them to speedy
Bernard Berrian during a quick five-play, 85-yard drive.

Grossman lofted a pass into the snowflakes and the ball fell into the arms of a tumbling Berrian, who beat
Fred Thomas for a 33-yard TD early in the fourth quarter. That made it 25-14, and the Bears were on their way.

"We felt like we could get behind him all game and then he covered it pretty well. Bernard just saw the ball in the air and made a great play. That was huge for our momentum at that point," Grossman said.

After struggling in the regular-season finale against Green Bay -- his quarterback rating was 0.0 and he admitted he wasn't as prepared as he should have been -- Grossman came back last week in the playoff opener against Seattle and threw for 282 yards.

"I told him numerous times, 'Don't worry what's being said on the outside. You know what you can do. I know what you can do. People in that locker room know what you can do. Listen to the people in this locker room, listen to us,"' offensive coordinator Ron Turner said.

Grossman sat out most of his rookie season after he was drafted in the first round from Florida. He was injured for most of the next two years with a torn knee ligament and broken ankle. In his first three seasons, he also had to work with three different offensive coordinators.

During long hours of rehabilitation to overcome his injuries, Grossman said he never gave up on leading the Bears to the Super Bowl. Grossman is 17-6 as a regular-season starter and now 2-1 in the playoffs.

"When we asked him to do it, he has," star linebacker
Brian Urlacher said. "I don't know what his career record, I don't care what his stats are, he's a winner." Grossman managed the game, let the running game featuring Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson and the Bears' defense control the tempo. He threw when needed and most importantly to Chicago, he avoided the mistakes that have hurt him this season.

"I'm really excited for coach Smith and Rex Grossman -- I mean, the things he's had to go through," Jones said. "We've overcome a lot of doubters, but we're here, we made it and it's definitely a great feeling."

Pay By Touch

My photo
Scottsdale, Arizona, United States