Indianapolis sees the reminders everywhere. The team flew into the same airport Monday, then bused to the same hotel in the same rain that soaked their Super Bowl celebration three years ago. On Tuesday, they’ll talk to reporters at Sun Life Stadium again and then begin working out Wednesday at the Dolphins’ practice facility. Same as three years ago.
Heck, some players, like Kelvin Hayden, even found themselves checking into the same rooms.
Indeed, the Colts will try to show that this Super Sequel will be every bit as good as the original.
“It was kind of blurry to me to be honest, but once we stepped in the hotel, everything kind of came back to me,” Hayden said. “Hopefully, it will help us come Sunday.”
Hayden, like four-time MVP Peyton Manning and running back Joseph Addai, has pleasant memories from their last postseason trip to South Florida.
Manning won his first Super Bowl and took home the MVP award here in February 2007. Addai finished with 143 scrimmage yards, the second-highest total in Super Bowl history, and set a game record with 10 receptions that day. Hayden’s late interception and return for a touchdown clinched the Colts 29-17 victory over Chicago.
Twenty-five Colts, including five players on the injured reserve list, were around back then when Manning answered questions all week about a bruised right thumb.
This week, the frenzy surrounding Dwight Freeney has caused more concern.
The All-Pro defensive end sprained his right ankle in Indy’s 30-17 AFC championship victory over the Jets, and is questionable for Sunday’s game against New Orleans.
One report indicated Freeney had torn a ligament and a person close to Freeney told The Associated Press that the ankle was “really bad.” The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because his information differed from the team’s, and Monday night coach Jim Caldwell acknowledged his team has been preparing to go without Freeney.
“Well, he hasn’t been practicing, so if he’s not practicing then obviously we’re preparing, as if he’s not going to play,” Caldwell said.
Team president Bill Polian told radio listeners Monday night Freeney had a 50-50 chance of playing in the Super Bowl.
If Freeney does play, he could still be on a play count and may not be as effective using his speed, leverage and spin moves because of the sore ankle.
The Colts are hoping this turns out to be similar to Manning’s injury in 2007 — lots of talk, no significant impact.
“He usually works around the clock on his injuries and if there’s any chance that someone can play, Dwight’s the guy that can come back from it,” defensive captain Gary Brackett said. “He has wolverine-type characteristics in terms of healing and coming back.”
Otherwise, the storylines remain eerily familiar.
Manning, who finally ended the criticism of failing to win “the big one” in 2007, is now being asked whether he needs a second Super Bowl ring to satisfy the remaining doubters. A second victory also would put Manning on the short list of quarterbacks with multiple rings, a roster that includes players like Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Tom Brady and Joe Montana.
Plus, it rained then, and it’s raining again this week.
“I don’t know what that is, the Colts bringing rain down to Miami,” Manning said. “This is not a bad place to have to come back three years later for a Super Bowl.”
Certainly not when Indy’s most recent memories in Miami have all been victories.
Indy beat the Dolphins here in September when Manning threw the decisive 48-yard TD pass to Pierre Garcon with 3:18 to go, and, of course, he beat the Bears here in his previous trip to Miami.
The Saints also won in Miami this season.
“We are just going to do the best we can. We are going to go in with the mentality that we can win,” running back Reggie Bush said. “That is the approach we have to take.”
But the Colts are hoping one thing remains unchanged — that they get to leave Miami with their second Lombardi Trophy in four years.
“Same room, same hotel, same practice facility, everything,” Hayden said. “I’m going to wear the same suit as I did last time. I’m kind of a superstitious guy, so I try to keep things the same. If it works, why try to fix it? I’m going to try to keep everything as simple as before, and hopefully it will help us as a team.”
Indianapolis Colts’ Peyton Manning answers questions during a media availability, Monday, Feb. 1, 2010, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.. Indianapolis will face the New Orleans Saints in the NFL football Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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