1985 Bears Coverage: Bears drop a yawner

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SHARE 1985 Bears Coverage: Bears drop a yawner

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 drop a yawner

Kevin Lamb

Originally published Aug. 10, 1985

ST. LOUIS – With high-80s temperatures blanketing Busch Stadium last night, it was a good time for a nap. The Bears and the Cardinals played a football game, but they were polite enough not to intrude on anyone’s rest.

“We didn’t do anything and they didn’t do anything,” Bear coach Mike Ditka said after the Cardinals won the lullaby of a game 10-3. “There was a lot of ineptness.”

He had expected as much. This was an exhibition opener. It was audition night for the hopeful and hopeless youngsters, the NFL’s version of foul-ups, bleeps and blunders.

But most of the Bears’ mistakes, missteps and mishaps were on an offense that rested Walter Payton. Their concern had been on defense, where three players are holding out and starters at two other positions are recovering from injuries.

Ditka liked what he saw on defense. He liked it enough to dismiss the holdouts with a matter-of-fact, “I assume they’re not going to play with the Bears this year,” even though those holdouts are all-pro middle linebacker Mike Singletary, Pro Bowl strong safety Todd Bell and incumbent starting right linebacker Al Harris.

“I don’t think there’s anything the matter with the guys that replaced them,” Ditka said of Ron Rivera, Dave Duerson and Wilber Marshall, respectively.

“The guys in there now are doing well,” said linebacker Otis Wilson, who ordinarily plays alongside Singletary and Bell. “It’s just that you can’t replace those kind of guys.

“We’ll play with what we have. We’ll be OK. But I hope they come in. Then we can get on with business and stop wondering.”

The winning play came against third- and fourth-string players and “was a good play for the blitz we had,” Ditka said. Quentin Walker, a second-year halfback, swept right end while the Bears were blitzing on the other side, and his 48-yard run put the game out of its misery with 3:42 to play.

It had been tied 3-3 since the second quarter. Neither offense was fit for public viewing.

The Bears completed 41 percent of their passes, the Cardinals 44. The Bears were sacked five times, the Cardinals six. The Bears were 1-for-14 on third down, the Cardinals 2-for-13.

“It wasn’t going to be a classic game,” Ditka said. “We played hard. The only thing that disappointed me was the number of penalties and the number of quarterback pressures and sacks we gave up. We had some pretty good linemen in there, but evidently their defensive linemen were a little better.”

The Bears have concentrated in training camp on passing inside the opponent’s 20. They got there once and settled for a tying 21-yard field goal by rookie Kevin Butler, who added a touchback kickoff to his challenge for Bob Thomas’ job.

Thomas was wide left from 46 yards the only other time the Bears crossed St. Louis’ 30.

Quarterback Mike Tomczak, battling Ken Cruz for the No. 3 job, relieved starter Jim McMahon after the first quarter. He directed the scoring drive and impressed Ditka. No. 2 man Steve Fuller opened the second half, and Cruz played the fourth quarter.

Ditka also liked what he saw of William Perry, the first-round rookie defensive tackle who’s big enough to flatten the crown on the field. Perry played every defensive down for 50 minutes, no small feat on a night when concerns about turf burn weren’t aimed at cuts and abrasions so much as at spontaneous combustion.

He wasn’t terribly conspicuous, except that it’s hard not to notice someone weighing at least 330 when he puts his hand on the ground and his haunches in the air. But he ran down a quarterback sack in the fourth quarter. And he still had enough energy to leap and thrust his fist into the air.

“It didn’t look like he was breathing too hard in the huddle,” said NFC sack leader Richard Dent, who played next to Perry at right end.

Dent, a holdout who came in from the cold a week ago, said he had his wind but not his strength. He had enough quickness to beat journeyman tackle Art Plunkett for two sacks that ended deep first-quarter drives.

The Cardinals drove 69 yards to the Bear 13 on their second possession, before Dent’s first sack. His second sack, on the next possession, followed two 20-yard pass plays and a 15-yard run.

Rookie Ricky Anderson, challenging Cardinal kicker Neil O’Donoghue, missed a 27-yard field goal attempt after Dent’s first sack but was good from 51 yards after the second. He gave St. Louis a 3-0 lead as the first quarter ended.

Ditka was happy about the lack of injuries except for what he called “a couple who got their feelings hurt.” He was talking about Marshall, Harris’ replacement, who left late in the second quarter with what the Bears called a muscle pull in his lower left leg.

“You’ve got to get a little tough,” Ditka said. “You can’t just get a bruise and take the night off.”

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