X since XLI: A decade since the Bears’ reign delay

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

CHICAGO - Everything has since dried out since that day, though admittedly it took awhile.

The name of the stadium has changed five times, with an awning added over the seats thanks to the events of this particular day.

Only a handful of players who took the field on February 4, 2007 in Miami Gardens are still putting on the pads. Dwight Freeney is the only one who will be on the field for 10th Super Bowl since the one played at Dolphin Stadium that day.

In short, a copious amount of things have changed since Super Bowl XLI. One thing hasn't - the Bears' Super Bowl championship drought - a reign delay that's now reached three decades plus one.

Colts 29 Bears 17.

The culmination of one franchise was the decade-long demise of another. An anniversary that serves a reminder of missed opportunities, failed drafts, free agent misses that have left the "Monsters of the Midway" haunting only the basement of the NFL.

Ten year ago was the last chance for devoted Chicago football fans to quench their thirst for a championship - one at that point just 21 years removed. Funny it came during the first - and so far only - Super Bowl to be classified as "Waterlogged."

The casual fan will remember that game for that reason, first and foremost. In some ways it was beautiful - a making for some fantastic images from shutter-happy photojournalists.

Bears fans will remember the first 20 seconds or so - then try to forget the rest.

Never has a Super Bowl started like this one before or since. The Colts dared kick the ball to Devin Hester - who'd returned five for touchdowns during the season - and they paid dearly. He made the catch to his left at the Bears' eight-yard line, ran towards the middle of the field, made a juke around the 20, and it was an 80-yard sprint after that.

Staring at the Jumbotron above, only Colts' special teamer Matt Giordano was close. In the most memorable moment of his highlight-reel career, Hester became the first in Super Bowl history to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown.

Ten years later, most Bears fan turn the recording or highlight films off after that, even if they shouldn't.

Chris Harris picked off Peyton Manning on the Colts' first offensive series. Even after a blown coverage and missed sack by Tank Johnson led to a Manning-to-Reggie Wayne touchdown, the Bears got it back when Rex Grossman found Muhsin Muhammad for score.

The Bears were up 14-6 in the first quarter. Now is when you can turn off the replay.

Rex Grossman fumbled twice and threw a pair of interceptions - one that was returned by Kelvin Hayden for a fourth quarter touchdown. That one play's point production by the Indianapolis' defense (7) was more than the Bears in the final three quarters (3).

Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes, of all people, carved up the Bears defense for 190 yards on the ground. The usually explosive Colts' offense ran it right at the Chicago defense, and they had no answeres.

Grossman's completion to Desmond Clark for 18 yards was the last Super Bowl play run by the Bears' in the past ten years. Time ran out after that, with Lovie Smith running to midfield to congratulate Tony Dungy on his first Super Bowl title. Meanwhile the rest of the Bears dodged confetti and raindrops en route to the locker room.

In the NFL Films' official highlight reel of the game, microphones caught Bears defensive back Nathan Vasher telling cornerback Charles Tillman "Watch how they do it, so we'll know how to do it next time."

It was wishful thinking for a Bears team whose run didn't seem quite over. But Vasher never did get that chance to celebrate.

Inconsistency forced Grossman out of the starting lineup and off the team at the end of the 2008 season. Some of the remnants of that 2006 teams were there four years later when the Bears made the NFC Championship Game, but it was just a one-year revival.

The statistics are harsh for the Bears since Super Bowl XLI. Just three winning seasons, one playoff appearance and one playoff win. Five of those years have been under-.500 with three different coaches.

That's included the last three seasons, with the franchise bottoming out with the worst 16-game campaign on record in 2016 - 3-13.

Why has this happened?

Bad drafts haven't helped. Chris Williams, Gabe Carimi, Shea McClellin are notable first round misses, with the jury still out on Kyle Fuller and Kevin White. The Jay Cutler trade took two years of first round picks from the team, and he's struggled with his own consistency issues over the past eight years.

Most likely Cutler is gone as the franchise continues the search for a quarterback to lead the John Fox-Ryan Pace era. A few pieces are in place here and there, but nothing to signal a revival anytime soon.

It makes this anniversary even more cringe-worth as it turns a decade old. Little did Bears fans know that the rain would wash away Lombardi dreams not just for an ill-fated night but rather a bumbling decade for a proud franchise left on the outside looking in at the NFL elite.

All if that starting on a night which started with a bit of Devin, and ended with 59 minutes and ten years of football hell.



Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.