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1985 Bears Coverage: Eason beat and beaten up

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.

Eason beat and beaten up

Brian Hewitt

Originally published Sept. 16, 1985

When it was over, Patriot quarterback Tony Eason was as confused as the day is long. And his day had been very long.

Eason had appeared so calm and confident in New England’s opening day victory over the Packers last week. But against the Bears yesterday at Soldier Field he completed only 15-of-35 passes for 234 yards. Worse, the Bears sacked him six times and intercepted three of his passes en route to a 20-7 victory.

“I was surprised how much they played certain coverages,” he said. “The ratio I expected was much different than the ratio I got.”

The former Illinois quarterback had completed 21-of-28 for 241 yards against Green Bay. But the three Bear interceptions were the most of his three-year NFL career. “Once you get behind against a defense like that it’s hard to stay balanced run-pass,” he said. “We’d run a play and it wouldn’t go. We’d run another play and it wouldn’t go. We’d pass and that wouldn’t go.”

The Patriots managed only 27 yards on 16 rushes. And 90 of their 206 total yards came on a fourth-period touchdown pass to running back Craig James.

“We felt we had to execute on third down,” said Patriot head coach Raymond Berry. But New England converted only three of 14 third-down attempts.

How bad was it? Eason wasn’t even sure. When someone asked him if he had been beaten physically by the Bears, he sighed and answered, “I won’t know until tomorrow.”

“Part of their defensive scheme was confusion,” said Patriot guard Ron Wooten. “They sure did that.”

NO WONDER: James, on the Patriots inability to move the ball across midfield – their total possession time in Bear territory was 17 seconds: “That’s a tough statistic. That is not good. But it doesn’t suprise me. That’s why we didn’t win.”

TIPPETT TOPPLED: Much of the Bears’ offensive success stemmed from their ability to neutralize New England outside linebacker Andre Tippett. Tippett led the AFC in sacks last year with 18 1/2. But against the Bears he managed only four tackles, one assist and no quarterback sacks.

He jumped offside on the first play of the game. And the officials later whistled him for unsportsmanlike conduct on the kickoff following Matt Suhey’s one-yard touchdown run in the third period.

“That was a bullbleep call,” said Tippett of the latter. “But what can you do? You can’t cry.”

THE BEARS:

Have won 11 of their last 13 at Soldier Field.

Have won seven straight against AFC teams at Soldier Field.

Have won 13 of their last 17 on artificial turf.

MEYER MUSING: Former New England head coach Ron Meyer was hanging around the lobby of the Westin Hotel before the game when he bumped into Patriot executive vice president Chuck Sullivan.

Meyer now represents Patriot running back Craig James. And as such he couldn’t resist getting in a dig at Sullivan and the organization that fired him.

“You know what they say, Chuck,” he said. “Don’t get mad. Just get even.”