- Graham Bensinger, Contributing Writer, ESPN.com
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Editor's note: Graham Bensinger spoke to Colts running back Dominic Rhodes for five minutes every day during Super Bowl week to get his thoughts leading up to and following the big game. Here is their conversation from Sunday.
Graham Bensinger: The Bears' Devin Hester starts the game with a 92-yard kickoff return for a TD. At that point, what's going through your head?
Dominic Rhodes: That was a little upsetting because we came out a little flat, but I knew it was still a long game. One TD does nothing for us.
Bensinger: When did you feel the tides starting to change?
Rhodes: Going into the second half. I knew that we were going to get the ball back and I knew how we usually play after halftime. Because of that, I knew the tide was going to turn our way.
Bensinger: What did you make of the weather conditions?
Rhodes: It's just a real football game. Football this time of the year really isn't supposed to be sunny and perfect. When you have the Bears and the Colts, with the history that we have, this was supposed to be the kind of game that was going to pass I guess. Both teams put a great product on the field and gave the fans something straight to watch.
Bensinger: This is Miami. It's been in the 70s and 80s all week. Then, the day of the actual game, it's awful. How strange is that?
Rhodes: I know. I was thinking about that. I'm like what the heck is going on. All week they talked about how there was going to be no rain. They said there was only a 30 percent chance. Then, it rains the whole game! It put more suspense in the game. It was crazy!
Bensinger: What impact did the weather have on you?
Rhodes: It made me have to go to more of my power game. When the elements are like that, you have to keep both hands on the ball, so you can't make the moves that you would normally make.
Bensinger: How was the field?
Rhodes: It was a great field. I take my hat off to whoever got that field ready. The field wasn't slick at all. It was an awesome game!
Bensinger: What are you thinking about on that first long run?
Rhodes: Get to the endzone! I knew it was going to be kind of hard because there were other guys on the other side that were coming at me. I knew I should have just put my head down and kept going, man. All I saw was endzone and I'm just like, "Man, get to the endzone… get to the enzone!" My whole thought process of the day was to have a good day and try to be MVP. I wanted to try to be MVP for my team. I know I did enough to let us win.
Bensinger: When you got to the endzone, what's it like?
Rhodes: To me, man, they're all sweet. Helping my team win is the most important deal. Honestly, Graham, I treated this game like another game. I'm a champion now. I didn't let it overwhelm me. If you do that, you start making mistakes. It's just sweet to be a champion. It's not about the TDs, it's about us winning the game.
Bensinger: At the same time ... You're in the endzone. You just scored in front of a worldwide audience. You had to at least relish the moment.
Rhodes: I knew that I had done something special. I scored a TD in the Super Bowl! It's something that I'll always be able to say to my kids. If you try hard enough and put your all into something, you can be a champion and you can do what your dad did.
Bensinger: How was the offensive line?
Rhodes: Those guys got down and dirty. They created huge holes for us. They were moving the chains today. I have to take my hat off to them, too. It was an awesome performance by all five of those guys, including Charlie [Johnson] who had to come in for Ryan Diem.
Bensinger: Following the game, on the field, you were being talked to and given papers. To what extent did you think you were the MVP?
Rhodes: I thought I might have a good shot at it, man. I knew it was going to be tough. No. 18 [Peyton Manning] had a great game. You have to do some great things in order to beat him out for that MVP. It's just a great feeling to know that we won the football game. He deserves all the praise and credit he gets. I'm proud of him, but I hope he lets me get the Escalade though.
Bensinger: Were you told following the game that you were MVP?
Rhodes: They just said that I was going to Disney World. That's all I knew. I knew that they were going to let me go there and I'm happy about that.
Bensinger: When you were told that you were going to Disney World, to what extent did you assume you were the MVP?
Rhodes: That's exactly what I thought, man. But it didn't happen.
Bensinger: You're still going to Disney World! What was it like when you found that out?
Rhodes: That's a great feeling. It's a great opportunity for my kids. I like doing special things for my family and my kids, and now I get to take them to Disney World. My whole family deserves this because they've stuck by me through everything.
Bensinger: What are the plans for going to Disney world?
Rhodes: I just know I have to wake up early as hell to get ready to go down there. I'll be ready to go though! I'm just excited again for the opportunity to do something special.
Bensinger: It's time to party.
Rhodes: Tonight [Sunday night] I'm going to have a little fun. I'm going to go out and celebrate with my teammates. This is celebration time! It's been 20-someodd-week and we've finally done it.
Bensinger: It makes up for all the parties you missed this week!
Rhodes: Exactly, man. It makes up for all the parties. There were a lot of parties. The one thing I know is Miami isn't going anywhere. This is Super Bowl XLI. It was our time.
Graham Bensinger is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. Visit his Web site at: TheGBShow.com. You can e-mail him at email@example.com
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