39. Super Bowl XLI, 2007: Indianapolis 29—Chicago 17
An important game in historical terms, this was Peyton Manning’s breakthrough. After years of dominating the league statistically, he finally made and won a Super Bowl, cementing his legacy as an all time great. The game itself was a strange, disjointed affair. The Bears’ quarterback was Rex Grossman, which ended predictably. Field conditions were sloppy and both teams committed multiple turnovers.
Competitiveness: 6 out of 10. The Bears actually led 14-6 after the first quarter and trailed by only two at halftime. Although it never really felt like they could win, the game wasn’t really decided until Grossman’s inevitable pick six with 12 minutes remaining.
Star Power: 6 out of 10. Peyton Manning, of course, but also Marvin Harrison, Dwight Freeney, Bob Sanders, Reggie Wayne, Charles Tillman and PRINCE.
Controversy/Intrigue: 8 out of 10. All of the intrigue came with the halftime show, but it’s our system and we’re counting it. Prince was staggeringly great, giving a towering performance in a weird, heavy mist, which confirmed the already probable likelihood that he was an Olympian god. A nation utterly scandalized by the site of Janet Jackson’s pasty only a few years previous, was totally cool with the sight of Prince’s guitar deliberately creating a giant phallic silhouette, because oh my god it was so awesome.
Aftermath: 3 out of 10. Rex Grossman would never make another Super Bowl.
Aggregate Score: 23 out of 40.
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