1985 Bears Coverage: `Now it’s the Bears’ time,’ says durable running back

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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.

`Now it’s the Bears’ time,’ says durable running back

Kevin Lamb

Originally published Nov. 18, 1985

Walter Payton is in his 11th season as an NFL halfback.

“I’m just glad I was able to hang around long enough to be here with them now,” he said after the Bears beat Dallas 44-0 yesterday. “It’s beautiful. I can’t even explain it.

“You talk about turn of the century, I stayed around through the turn of the decade waiting for the Bears to have their time. A lot of other teams have had their times. Now it’s the Bears’ time.”

Playoff loss

In Payton’s first game against Dallas, the Bears lost 37-7 in the 1977 playoffs. “That was hard,” he said. That was the first reason he gave for why yesterday meant so much.

It’s a different team now. Only Gary Fencik and Mike Hartenstine remain active with Payton from that team. The 1985 team is

different from the six that lost to Dallas since 1971, coach Mike Ditka said.

“The difference in this team is that each individual feels they can make the big play to break the game open,” Payton said. “And everyone tries. You’ve got 45 guys who know they can make the big play or they wouldn’t be here.”

Payton made three big plays in the second half. Two of them were runs of 34 and 35 yards, which helped him gain 132 yards on 22 carries. He set a record with his ninth 1,000-yard season and came within one of a record-tying seventh straight 100-yard game.

As usual, he did more than run. On a field-goal drive late in the third quarter, he blocked a blitzing linebacker on a third-and-14 pass to Dennis Gentry for 22 yards.

Two plays later, he ran to right end, faked a handoff to wide receiver Dennis McKinnon and kept going. With a linebacker hitting him, he threw a 33-yard pass to Tim Wrightman at the Cowboy 6.

He had a chance for a two-yard touchdown run, but he didn’t make it. William Perry, playing fullback, tried to help. With Payton nearly stopped, Perry shoved him forward. It was a 10-yard penalty.

Has to learn

“I have to get on him about that,” Payton said. “He has to learn there are certain things you can do and certain things you can’t do.”

Payton has learned never to be surprised by such oddities. But 44-0 at Dallas? Could that ever have made his wildest dreams?

“I really don’t dream that much,” he said. “I’m too much a realist, I guess.”

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