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.
Bears enjoy sweet dream
Originally published Nov. 18, 1985
Late in the Bears’ 44-0 victory over the Cowboys yesterday, Mike Singletary turned to Steve McMichael and said, “I don’t
think I could have dreamed it any better.” For two defensive players from Texas, Singletary said winning at Dallas was “a sweet, sweet victory.”
After the biggest buildup since the new Coke, the Bears-Dallas game had all the suspense of an execution.
The Bears’ defense didn’t even give the Cowboys a blindfold. It just gave IBM’s Team a folding, spindling and mutilating that turned the showdown into a shutdown.
First, the Bears took the run away from the Cowboys. As time wore on and the Cowboys wore out, they also confiscated the pass, the football, the game, the division crown and even the crowd. Near the end, the pro-Bear cheering moved linebacker Ron Rivera to ask general manager Jerry Vainisi, “Are we in Chicago?”
The outcome was in little doubt after Richard Dent and Mike Richardson returned interceptions for Bear touchdowns in an 11:09 span in the first half. The Bears led 17-0 then, and 24-0 at halftime.
“You just don’t spot that kind of football team 14 quick points,” Cowboys coach Tom Landry said. “They got ahead and they did what they wanted to do.”
They made Landry do what he didn’t want to do. He went to the pass after five running plays netted minus-five yards, none of them crossing the line of scrimmage. The Cowboys didn’t run again in the first half. Their 19 straight pass plays included four of their five turnovers and three of the Bears’ six sacks.
“There’s no question where you give the credit,” coach Mike Ditka said. “The offense was strictly wrapped up. They on defense probably would have outscored us on offense if it kept going like it did in the first half.”
The offense was efficient enough for Ditka to suggest quarterback Steve Fuller’s game ball be gold-plated. He said Fuller finished the game with “blood coming out of his mouth, his nose and a few other places.” He didn’t have to say Fuller began the game trying to answer whether the Bears beat good teams without Jim McMahon, who will be out indefinitely.
“We can beat anybody anywhere,” Dent said.
“You don’t win because of any one person, or even one coach,” Ditka said.
On defense, it was a gang effort that ended the Cowboys’ streak of 218 games and 15 years without a shutout. They didn’t cross the Bear 38-yard line, and they reached that on their first drive. It was the eighth time in 11 straight victories the Bears held a team to 10 points or less, and the sixth in a row.
“Our pride’s hurt and we are embarrassed,” Dallas defensive tackle John Dutton said.
“We tell the players, `You’ve got to elevate yourself to the level of the opposition,'” said Ditka, who still called Dallas a playoff team. “We elevated ourselves there and went above it.”
With an 11-0 record, the Bears have equaled their best start since 1942, the NFL’s best since 1972 and their most victories for a season since 1963. They are the first team to win the NFC Central two straight
years since 1978.
The division title was scarcely celebrated, except for the nearly $2,000 in game balls Ditka gave to all 45 players, offensive coordinator Ed Hughes and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan.
“Buddy should get credit for the great job he’s done,” Ditka said.
Ditka didn’t even bask in beating Landry, his mentor for 13 years, except to say, “I’m excited.”
“We don’t want to act like this is the end of the road,” Fuller said. “This is a regular-season game.”
The next goal is to clinch the home field for the playoffs, which the Bears could do Sunday against Atlanta. The next would be going 16-0, still a mere stepping-stone.
“Our only real goal is to go all the way,” safety Gary Fencik said.
“We can still play a lot better,” center Jay Hilgenberg said.
The Bears’ offense sputtered through the first quarter before the defense limited Dallas’ choices to passing or passing. On the second of those 19 straight pass plays, Richardson punched the ball out of wide out Mike Renfro’s hands. Fencik recovered it after Richardson grabbed and lost it.
They didn’t score then. Maury Buford had to punt. It went out of bounds on the Cowboy 2. Danny White had to pass from the end zone.
Dan Hampton rushed him from the left side and knocked the ball very high. Dent, who was in the end zone, came back to catch it at the 1. “Anytime you hear the ball slapped, you’re supposed to look for it,” Dent said.
Dent bounced off center Tom Rafferty for his first NFL touchdown. “I’m glad it wasn’t the open field,” he said. The Bears led 7-0 with 1:48 left in the first quarter.
They made it 10-0 after successive sacks by Dent and Hampton, Fuller’s 28-yard third-down pass to Tim Wrightman and Kevin
Butler’s 44-yard field goal.
They made it 17-0 after Richardson scored his first touchdown on a 36-yard interception return. Linebacker Otis Wilson had knocked White out of the game on the previous series by knocking him cold. Later, he would add a jammed neck to White’s concussion and chase him from the game for good.
On backup Gary Hogeboom’s first pass, Dent and Wilson hurried him, and he didn’t see Renfro adjust his pass route. Richardson was all alone in center field.
“All I saw was dark blue jerseys,” said Richardson, who waved the ball to celebrate at the 10.
“That was when we started thinking about goosing them,” safety Dave Duerson said.
Leslie Frazier’s 33-yard interception return set up Fuller’s one-yard touchdown run 2:58 before halftime. In the second half,
reserve backs Calvin Thomas and Dennis Gentry made 16-yard touchdown runs and Butler kicked two field goals. Walter Payton’s runs of 34 and 35 yards set up Thomas’ touchdown and one field goal. Ken Taylor’s interception set up Gentry’s touchdown.
One way the Bears shut down Dallas’ running game was to outshift the NFL’s shiftiest offense. “They’re always moving people around.” Singletary said. “So we’d give them one look, they’d audible and then we’d move ourselves.”
“I’ve never seen their offense so confused,” Fencik said. “They tried some quick counts, but even if they caught us while we were shifting, they didn’t know where we’d be to block. We took Tony Dorsett out of the game pretty early.”
Dorsett ran for only 42 more yards after his 22-yard gain on Dallas’ first play. He caught only two passes because the Cowboys had to make him block against blitzes.
The pass rush, which hurried Cowboy quarterbacks about a dozen times, didn’t even give them time for the quick slant-in passes Landry wanted. “They were just throwing up prayers a lot of times,” Duerson said.
“I think this is the best we’ve played thus far,” Singletary said. “I don’t think it’s the best we will play.”
Hogeboom and White were able to walk off the field, so Singletary said he had no sympathy for them. Empathy, yes, but, “I remember when our quarterbacks were getting killed. They looked like they were in the boxing business rather than football. And other teams were laughing at it.”
The new Ditka
It was a game that exorcised demons of past defeats, especially to Dallas. And even of past temper flareups by Ditka.
When the offense struggled early, when butterflies still bounced around Fuller’s stomach, he said Ditka came over to him. “He put his arm around me, comforted me and said, `Just play, Kid.'”
“Steve Fuller doesn’t have a bigger fan than me,” Ditka said. He said he didn’t call the game as cautiously as he did for Fuller last year.
“You could see his confidence go up,” wideout Ken Margerum said. “He took control in the huddle and he was more aggressive the way he called plays and walked up to the line. We know we can win with him.”