1985 Bears Coverage: Lions bar a sweep for Bears

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Every day of the 2015 Chicago Bears season, Chicago Sun-Times Sports will revisit its coverage 30 years ago during the 1985 Bears’ run to a Super Bowl title.

Lions bar a sweep for Bears

Sun-Times Staff

Originally published Nov. 10, 1985

How they match up

The Detroit Lions are the only team remaining between the Bears and a clean sweep of the NFC Central Division.

The undefeated Bears (9-0) have disposed of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers twice each.

Today, the Lions get their chance to derail a team that is dominating the division as no other has done since the ’70s Vikings.

The Bears of coach Mike Ditka have won 15 of their last 16 division games. If they beat the Lions, they can clinch the division title in Dallas next week.

Ditka is impressed by rookie Detroit coach Darryl Rogers, who has survived an avalanche of injuries to fashion a 5-4 start.

“Darryl has done a great job,” said Ditka. “When he said he didn’t take it with the idea Billy Sims would be well, he undertook it with the idea he had a big coaching job ahead of him.”

The Lions have won only one game on the road, their opener in Atlanta.

On paper they have little chance of upsetting the Bears because they have the worst defense in the league against the run and they must stop Walter Payton.

The Lions also have to stop the biggest runner of all time, 308-pound William Perry, who has become a fixture at the goal line and in short yardage. Perry stunned the Packers last week by going in motion from the 4-yard line and catching a TD pass.

BEARS ON OFFENSE – Payton has four straight 100-yard games. Even the Vikings, ranked last in the league in rushing, ran against the Lions last week, exposing a fundamental weakness. Steve Fuller will start at quarterback in place of Jim McMahon. Tim Wrightman (tight end) and Ken Margerum (wide receiver) also will start because of injuries to Emery Moorehead and Dennis McKinnon. Wide receiver Willie Gault is nursing sore ribs.

LIONS ON OFFENSE – Fullback James Jones has taken up the slack in the absence of the recuperating Sims and the injured Wilbert Montgomery. Jones had his first 100-yard games in victories against Super Bowl teams San Francisco and Miami. Quarterback Eric Hipple has not been intercepted in his last three games. He has two big-play wide receivers in Leonard Thompson and Mark Nichols, plus a reliable target in Jones. Getting the ball quickly to wide receivers on “fade” patterns is one way to beat the Bears’ blitzing defense. The Lions will have to protect Hipple.

BEARS ON DEFENSE – The Bears launched Hipple’s career on a Monday night in 1981 when he destroyed them 48-17. They have the No. 1 defense against the run, so their priorities lie with keeping the wide receivers from busting big plays. The Bear rush will try to exploit weaknesses in the Lions’ pass protection.

LIONS ON DEFENSE – The Lions may get a boost from linebacker Ken Fantetti if Rogers activates him from injured reserve. Their run defense is hurting without Fantetti and linebacker Mike Cofer. Linebacker Kurt Allerman is nursing sore ribs. Three defensive backs lead the team in tackles, a sure sign that the men up front are not

doing the job.

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