Manning vs. Grossman: A mismatch?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 30, 2007

By Dave Hackenberg

Toledo Blade

The worst quarterback in Super Bowl history?

I’ve always had a soft spot for Vince Ferragamo, maybe because his name reminds me of the guy who played the Incredible Hulk.

(Now, you’re trying to think of HIS name, right? Heh-heh.)

But there are lots of candidates.

Trent Dilfer? Jake Delhomme has been a one-year wonder, so far. David Woodley, for sure. Brad Johnson might get some votes, although his opponent in Super Bowl XXXVII, Rich Gannon, was the guy who set a record with five interceptions.

It’s all conjecture, of course, but it brings us to Rex Grossman. The Bears are going to Super Bowl XLI, which is 41 for those of you who don’t speak Roman, and Grossman will be at the controls for a team that has won 15 games, about half of them in large part because of him and about half despite him.

Sunday, as the Bears wrote the final chapter for the NFL’s feel-good story of the year, a Saints team that was the symbol of its city’s rebirth after the horrors of Hurricane Katrina, Grossman was merely efficient during Chicago’s 39-14 NFC championship victory at Soldier Field.

He came up big in one key drive, didn’t turn the ball over and otherwise did what any Bears quarterback should do — hand it off to his running backs and cheer like crazy for his defense.

Because of the latter, efficient is all a quarterback has to be for the Bears. Still, Rex Grossman vs. Peyton Manning doesn’t sound like a fair fight.

That will be the Match-up in Miami, as Manning finally gets his shot after orchestrating a 32-point second half that stunned visiting New England 38-34 for the AFC title.

Grossman admitted to being conservative — “a little afraid of making a mistake” — in the first half, which would explain how the Bears could run 22 of their first 27 plays in New Orleans territory only to settle for three field goals.

Grossman was a so-so

11-for-26 and 144 yards. He was just average and average was more than good enough with the Saints pretty much self-destructing while Brian Urlacher, Adewale Ogunleye and the rest of the Bears’ defense did a pretty fair impersonation of the Monsters of the Midway.

Average may not cut it in the Super Bowl, though.

Finally, Manning has beaten the Patriots and can pursue the legacy of greatness that is bestowed only upon those with Super Bowl rings. Tom Brady has three of them to wear on formal occasions, but this time his magic ended on the final drive.

Grossman vs. Manning? No, it doesn’t sound like a fair fight.

But Dilfer won a Super Bowl. So did Johnson. So did Jeff Hostettler. Heck, Mark Rypien was a Super Bowl MVP.

Of course, Lou Ferrigno never had the chance. But I think he would have been incredible.