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 want a win vs. Bills
Originally published Aug. 31, 1985
The buck stops at Soldier Field tonight. So do the Bills.
“I’d like to win,” says Bear coach Mike Ditka. “I don’t want to be 0-4.”
Earlier in the week somebody asked Ditka how important a victory was against Buffalo in the pre-season finale. “I don’t think that really makes a difference,” he said.
Don’t believe it.
Yesterday the Bears practiced in full pads, a rarity on the day before a game.
The Bills (0-2-1) remember how the Bears thrashed them 38-7 in last year’s final pre-season game. “People in Buffalo have said that last exhibition game with us screwed up the beginning of their season,” says Ditka. “They’re gonna come down here to make amends.”
Buffalo never recovered last year, finishing 2-14. It was the worst record in the league and it enabled them to obtain Virginia Tech defensive end Bruce Smith with the draft’s first pick.
Smith (four sacks in three games) will start against the Bears as will former Rams quarterback Vince Ferragamo, acquired in an offseason trade. Ferragamo and Yale’s Joe Dufek are fighting for the starting quarterback job. Ferragamo appears to have the edge.
Buffalo’s punter will be Northwestern rookie John Kidd. Former USFL refugee Scott Norwood is their only placekicker. But Norwood has kicked only one pre-season field goal. The Bills will surprise nobody in the NFL if they attempt to sign whichever kicker – Kevin Butler or Bob Thomas – the Bears cut Monday.
Ditka admits the Bears have already begun looking past Buffalo and started preparing for their regular-season opener Sept. 8 at Soldier Field against Tampa Bay. But he is also acutely aware the Bears have
only scored two offensive touchdowns in three pre-season games. Starting quarterback Jim McMahon still hasn’t taken the Bears into the end zone. “We’ve only been successful on 26 percent of our third downs,” says Ditka.
“To be successful in this league you have to operate at least 40 percent on third downs.”
“Nothing, absolutely nothing,” was general manager Jerry Vainisi’s response yesterday when asked for news on the progress of negotiations between the Bears and defensive holdouts holdouts Al Harris and Todd Bell.
Outside linebacker Wilber Marshall and strong safety Dave Duerson continue to replace Harris and Bell. Duerson has intercepted two passes in the pre-season.
But it hasn’t been enough to offset offensive errors. “We had two fistfuls of mistakes,” said Ditka of Monday night’s 15-13 loss in Dallas.
WGN-radio (720 AM) will broadcast the game live at 6 p.m. WBBM-TV (Ch. 2) will air a delayed broadcast starting at 8 p.m.