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1985 Bears Coverage: Cowboys' futility has Ditka displaying humility

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.

Cowboys’ futility has Ditka displaying humility

Brian Hewitt

Originally published Nov. 18, 1985

Coach Mike Ditka refused to gloat after yesterday’s 44-0 dismantling of Dallas. Instead he chose to be humble. And he made the choice work.

“I owe my career and everything I have, through its evolution, to football,” he said. “But the biggest part of it happened in Dallas.”

Dallas is where Ditka assisted Cowboy coach Tom Landry for nine years before succeeding fired Bears coach Neill Armstrong in 1982. “Dallas is where I matured enough to understand right from wrong and some other things,” Ditka said.

And somehow Ditka managed to prevent his fierce desire to beat Dallas from distracting his players.

“We knew he wanted to win,” middle linebacker Mike Singletary said. “But I’ll tell you what: This week he was probably calmer and looser than I’ve ever seen him in my life. It was unbelievable. I think it helped a lot. I think it was really great to see him calm down.”

COWBOYS’ WORST: The 44-point margin of defeat was the worst in Cowboy history. The previous worsts were a 48-7 loss to Cleveland in 1960 and a 54-13 defeat at Minnesota in 1970.

The only other regular-season shutout in Dallas history occurred on a Monday night in 1970 when the Cardinals embarrassed the Cowboys 38-0. Ditka was a tight end on that Cowboy team. And Bears running back coach Johnny Roland scored three touchdowns for the Cardinals that game, including a 72-yard punt return.

The shutout was the first against the Cowboys in 218 games. The record for most consecutive games without being shut out is Cleveland’s – 274 from 1950 to 1971.

PAYTON NUMBERS: Walter Payton’s 132 yards on 22 carries gave him 1,083 yards for the year. It’s the ninth time in 11 years he has rushed for more than 1,000 yards. That’s an NFL record.

It also was Payton’s sixth straight 100-yard game. The NFL record is seven. Next week’s opponent, Atlanta, ranked 18th against the rush after 10 weeks.

Payton has rushed for 100 yards or more 70 times.

WILSON WATCH: Linebacker Otis Wilson made five tackles and two sacks. The Pro Bowl looms. It would be his first.

“My confidence level tells me I’m going,” he said.

BUTLER DID IT: Another Bear possibly headed for the Pro Bowl in Honolulu Feb. 5 is rookie placekicker Kevin Butler.

“I’ll take New Orleans over Honolulu any day,” said Butler, who connected on his three field-goal attempts from 44, 46 and 22 yards. “But if they want me in Hawaii, I’ll go.”

Butler was especially proud of the 46-yarder he kicked in the third period to extend the Bears’ lead to 27-0. It was his longest of the year. “I just want people to realize I can kick over 40 yards,” said Butler, who entered the game as the NFL’s leading scorer with 83 points. He now has 97.

Butler said his leg has recovered from a minor loss of power that occurred recently.

“We only played 11 games in college,” he said. “I’ve had to learn to pace myself.”

EARLY BIRDS: By clinching their second straight NFC Central championship, the Bears became the earliest division clincher since the league went to a 16-game schedule in 1978.

Defensive end Richard Dent’s one-yard interception return for the Bears’ first score was the first touchdown of his career.

It came when Dan Hampton beat Cowboy right tackle Jim Cooper and deflected the ball into the air. “There was no way Richard was gonna drop that ball,” director of player personnel Bill Tobin said. “It wasn’t unlike grabbing an offensive rebound in basketball.”

Dent agreed. “I play quite a bit in the offseason,” he said. “I think basketball helps a defensive lineman. Pass rushing is like basketball – you go one way or the other.”