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Forget Manning, defense wins championships

By zaronow

Section: Sports

February 9, 2007

For the past two weeks, I have heard nothing but people bashing Rex Grossman. I think they are all forgetting what is important.

I have said this once, and Ill say it again, offense wins games, but defense wins championships. The reason why both the Colts and Bears are in the Super Bowl is not because of their quarterbacks but because of their defenses. The Bears were able to crush the high powered Saints offense while the Colts discovered a run defense in time to shut down Kansas Citys running back Larry Johnson and Baltimores Jamal Lewis.

If the Super Bowl has shown us anything, it is that the best quarterbacks in terms of sheer talent are not always going to be the determining factors of Super Bowl success. Its mostly who can stop the other team and who can make the fewest mistakes.

It is for that reason that Jeff Hostetler has a ring and Jim Kelly failed four straight times. Its why Mark Rypien got a ring ahead of John Elway, why Joe Namath beat Johnny Unitas and why Joe Montana succeeded where Dan Marino fell short.

As a result, looking at the teams, I really do not trust the Colts defense. They are too light up the middle where the Bears have the punishing Olin Kreutz at center, and if the running game falters, it opens up the big plays for Grossman and for all the maligning he has received, the fact is that Grossman has been productive if nothing else.

Even so, this should be a close game. Lovie Smith was the linebackers coach under Tony Dungy, and both are disciples of the cover-2 defense. Ultimately, it comes down to who can make the fewest mistakes, and I believe that the Bears have more weapons at their disposal to get at Manning. Whether it comes from the middle with Tank Johnson, or at the edges with Adewale Ogunleye or from their fearsome linebacking corps, the fact is that Manning has to be ready to have his head on a swivel.

Of course the pundits are right when they say that it will likely come down to Grossman. If he throws multiple interceptions, the Bears are doomed, but if the defense keeps Manning in check and get productivity out of Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson, then in the end, Manning takes yet another step in embodying Dan Marino.

Prediction: Bears 27, Colts 21

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