Review of Super Bowl XLI Champions DVD: Peyton Manning Wins the Big One

51sjr0-fdl__sl500_aa240_The Indianapolis Colts, after several years of Playoff frustration and failing to meet high expectations, finally won a Super Bowl when they topped the Chicago Bears in the game’s 41st iteration.

But though the team’s tale is one of success, the DVD chronicling it isn’t so great. This highlights package, which has been done for each Super Bowl for several years now, is not one of the better efforts by NFL Films.

I am sure Colts fans will greatly enjoy reliving the long-awaited championship season and will want this as a keepsake. The regular-season highlights are mostly well done, but the Playoff highlights are of mixed quality. The Super Bowl clips were, in general, very good, but a bit lacking in the emotional buildup and suspense that makes these packages a delight for fans.

But the biggest disappointment is that the disc does not have the full game on it as some of the previous editions have. Also, the bonus features are sub-par, as the montages are short and not very informative or revealing.

As with other DVDs in this series, the main feature is an hour-or-so-long highlight reel of Indianapolis’ 2006 season, featuring bits of every regular season and Playoff game and extensive footage from the Super Bowl.

But this version does only an average job of really building the suspense and emotion of the season. It simply lacked the kind of emotional drama and tension I have come to expect in these packages. There also weren’t very many close-up, on-the-field shots that bring the action up-close and personal.

Another key drawback to this production is a lack of completeness; they obscure the real story behind the games by leaving out key details. Yes, that is a complaint you can make about all the videos like this the NFL produces; in the short time span allotted to each game, important plays and turning points are often left out.

This entry in the series, however, is particularly guilty; there is one segment that leaves the viewer with a false impression of what really happened in the game. The highlights of the Colts’ 23-8 first-round Playoff victory over the Kansas City Chiefs show a story that is is only half-correct.

The Colts defense did step up and shut down one of the most potent running attacks (and offenses) in the league by holding Kansas City running back Larry Johnson to only 32 yards rushing. But the Colts offense did not have a great game, though the production extolls the virtues of Peyton Manning and his outfit. Almost nothing was said about Manning’s three interceptions and the general sloppiness and inconsistency of the offense.

Yes, the key story in that game was the Colts D, but without pointing out the shakiness of the offense in its first 2007 postseason game, the DVD gives an inaccurate portrayal of the contest. As an historical record of the Colts’ run to the Super Bowl, I find this egregious.

As noted, this highlights package is average, at best, but there are some good things about it, too. The opening montage has a few nicely understated interviews about the heartbreaking postseason losses of the team in the three prior seasons, twice to the New England Patriots and to the Pittsburgh Steelers in ’05.

The best and most revealing interview was with Jim Irsay, owner of the Colts, who said before the season (paraphrased): “We don’t want our legacy to be one of the best teams to never win a championship. Our legacy has yet to be determined.”

That was a great summation of the position the Colts found themselves in in 2007.

The disc also has a solid chronicle of the Colts’ mid- to late-season breakdown on defense; they became the regular season’s worst team at rushing defense, and this could not continue in the Playoffs if they expected to make a championship run. Scenes that follow show how the defense really turned it around in late December and beyond by shutting down some powerful running attacks, helping propel the Colts into the Super Bowl.

 Of course, Peyton Manning is the star of the show, but kudos to the compilers for featuring the outstanding play of the offensive line, rookie running back Joseph Addai, receivers Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, tight end Dallas Clark, and the impact of the return of safety Bob Sanders from an injury. This more well-rounded approach is refreshing, as the film could have ended up as a simple ode to the team’s signal caller.

The recap of the Colts’ 29-17 victory over Chicago in the season’s final game was generally well done, though emotional drama was notably missing. It did show one awesome play: safety Bob Sanders before the snap, then him rushing toward Cedric Benson, the Chicago running back, and making a picture-perfect hit, tackle, and forced fumble.

It was a beautiful play and an outstanding piece of camera work and editing; the collection could have used more stuff like that. If I were a Colts fan that would have gotten me really pumped. Too bad there wasn’t more of this type of action throughout.

The bonus materials were mostly a complete waste of time. Honestly, this might be the worst I’ve seen yet in these productions.

First, as noted earlier, it didn’t have the full game broadcast, which is a big strike against it for me. It also featured the NFL Network Postgame show, featuring talking heads (mostly Jim Mora, former Colts head coach) saying not much of anything and no real analysis of the game.

There is a heartwarming profile of Colts linebacker Gary Brackett, who lost both his parents within four months of each other and his brother of leukemia about a year later after he donated bone marrow to him, as well as a profile of coach Tony Dungy. There are a few wired-for-sound segments of Manning, Harrison, and the staff in games against the Patriots, but that was nothing special.

The two quick segments on Peyton Manning’s well-known antics behind the line of scrimmage before snapping the ball and how Tony Dungy runs practice were also okay, but uninformative to the avid football fan.

There is a more extensive package for the Colts-Patriots AFC Championship game which offers more thorough highlights than that of the main feature, but this suffers from the same lack of game analysis and drama as the rest of the video.

And, of course, there are the obligatory shots of a few Colts players and Tony Dungy being interviewed during Media Day. This didn’t elicit much really, although the interview with defensive tackle Anthony McFarland talking about Tony Dungy’s coaching style was interesting.

Finally, while I could care less about halftime shows or pre-game bits, I was at first baffled that the bonus materials included the dreadful Cirque Du Soleil affair from beforehand but not Prince’s performance, which I actually found entertaining. But then I realized that Prince slipped in a phallic symbol during the show (and yes, I’m pretty sure he did it on purpose) and that that’s probably why it’s not on the DVD.

Despite the many drawbacks, I am sure Colts fans will find this very entertaining as they relive a great, well-deserved championship season. Congratulations to Indianapolis for a great season.

Disclaimer: I am an avid New England Patriots fan and this video actually made me want to puke. But it did not affect my review of the video. The fact I didn’t break down in tears or break any furniture during the highlights of the AFC Championship game is evidence enough of the general lack of drama-building and emotional tension of the presentation.

NFL Super Bowl XLI – Indianapolis Colts Championship DVD


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