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.
Knockout of a day for unbeaten Bears
Originally published Nov. 18, 1985
It is impossible to overstate what the Bears did here yesterday. It was the Huns sacking Rome, Sherman marching through
In the closing minutes of the worst beating ever administered to the Dallas Cowboys, it was so quiet in most of Texas Stadium you could hear a dynasty crumbling and a new one rising from the ruins.
But a small coterie of Bears fans, delirious with joy, was singing, “Na, na, na, na! Hey, hey! Goodbye!” And they were chanting: “Let’s go Bears!” Surely, 44-0 was enough. But they were drunk with an elixir Chicago fans had not tasted in most of their lifetimes. Their team was 11-0 and, without question, the best in football.
As safety Gary Fencik, 10 years a Bear, drank in the happiness, his memory reeled back to 1977 and a November day in Houston. It was the worst he could remember, when the Oilers had buried the Bears 47-0 and the crowd in the Astrodome had drummed their victory song into his ears in maddening fashion.
“You don’t expect to dominate a good franchise like the Cowboys,” he said. “It’s never happened to them before. But it’s happened to us, and it’s not a pleasant feeling.
“I’ve never beaten the Cowboys – regular season, pre-season or postseason – until today. This erases a lot of bad memories. We got rid of `America’s Team.’
“There’ve been some frustrating times. I feel good for all the guys I played with who can’t play anymore.”
As Mike Ditka said, the Bears defense was “awesome” and took the game away from Dallas.
Though he quickly fled the dressing room without taking a bow, this must have been the sweetest game ever for Buddy Ryan, the
architect and father figure of a defensive team that follows his philosophy: “Take the sumbitch meaning the ball away from them in a hurry.”
The proud Cowboys seemed shaken, even demoralized, by the relentless, brutally efficient pressure applied to their quarterback. The pressure created five turnovers, six sacks, countless “hurries,” touchdown interception returns by Richard Dent and Mike Richardson and a knockout of Danny White that will remind veteran Bear fans of the kneeling, bleeding figure of Y.A. Tittle on the frozen turf of Wrigley Field in the last Bear championship game in 1963.
It was really a double knockout of poor Danny, with the violent Otis Wilson delivering the blows.
It happened first in the second quarter, when Wilson flattened White and knocked him into Dent, leaving White inert on the carpet and in need of relief from Gary Hogeboom. White bravely tried again in the second half, only to be knocked out again by Wilson. “That’s the name of the game, to get heat on the quarterback,” said Dan Hampton. “Danny White has to be commended for trying to come back in.”
Dent, who seemed to be reaching the quarterback in tandem with Wilson much of the day, felt a twinge of pity for White at the second KO.
“I felt sorry,” Dent said. “He tried to duck Otis, but put his head right into Otis’s stomach and Otis fell on him. I was glad he got up and walked off.” The diagnosis: a pinched nerve in the neck.
Wilson said: “I really didn’t anticipate knocking him out twice. But he came out and I had to get him again. After that, the ball game was over.”
Someone wondered if Wilson felt sorry for White.
“A man has to make a living,” Wilson replied pragmatically. “I don’t want to be the one that causes him to make a short living, but we have a job out there. I think I did a good job today.”
In addition to his devastating sacks of White, Wilson hurried Hogeboom into throwing a pass directly into Richardson’s chest,
permitting Mike a 36-yard waltz into the end zone with the interception.
“We were playing like wild dogs out there,” said Wilson. So full of animal spirits were the Bear defenders, he said, “We started barking like junkyard dogs. It got us so fired up, we kept it up.”
Wilson was having so much fun blitzing from his linebacker position he got upset when Ryan would signal zone defenses, with no blitzing.
“I was saying: `Buddy, let me loose!’ I don’t want to sound greedy, but I love being turned loose to go get somebody. When he calls a zone, I gotta play it, but I don’t like it.”
Fittingly, it was the defense that opened the scoring, with a play that smacked of volleyball and basketball. The 6-5 Hampton acted as setter, hurrying White in the Cowboy end zone and deflecting a pass upward toward the 1-yard line. There Dent, also 6-5, went up for the rebound like Moses Malone and carried it in for the first touchdown of his life.
“I get high enough to slam a basketball with two hands,” said Dent, who played high school basketball in Atlanta. Hampton guessed: “He probably has a 38-inch vertical leap.”
Hampton saw the victory as vindication for a team that has been consistently under-rated, despite its perfect record. He didn’t understand how the thrice-beaten Cowboys could be favored by the oddsmakers going into this contest.
“It wasn’t the toughest game we’ve played,” he said. “We expected more than we got.”
Said Wilson: “If people don’t believe we’re for real, just let ’em suit up against us. We’ll show ’em how real we are.”
Said Fencik: “We came in here very confident, very relaxed. We don’t have to prove anything now. We’re the team to beat. I hope the momentum continues through the Super Bowl.”
Super Bowl! The magnitude of this victory was such that it dwarfed the clinching of this team’s second divisional championship in as many seasons, after a drought of 21 years. The divisional title long had been taken for granted.
That, in itself, signifies how far these Bears have come.