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1985 Bears Coverage: Bucs vow to play rough

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.

Bucs vow to play rough

Brian Hewitt

Originally published Sept. 4, 1985

The Bears and Tampa Bay used to have a rivalry. Then the Bears won four straight, outscoring the Bucs 122-33. Suddenly the rivalry was a travesty.

And the Bucs knew it.

“The Bears try to intimidate you,” said Tampa Bay right tackle Ron Heller. “And they usually do.”

Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field, the Bears will be favored to pick up where they left off last October when they embarrassed the Buccaneers 44-9 at Tampa Stadium.

Ready to retaliate

But Heller says the Bucs are mad as hell and not about to take it anymore.

“Whenever you play them you know it’s going to be a headache,” he said. “The whole day is hitting. There’s no play when you can say, `Oh, it’s going to the opposite side, I can take it easy.’ There’s no such thing.

“These guys try to punish you. They’re a bunch of brutes. They like to dish it out. And, a lot of times if you stand up and say, `Hey, I’m not gonna take it,’ it throws them off their game a little.”

Heller and right guard Sean Farrell comprise the strong side of Tampa Bay’s improved offensive line. Both grew up on New York’s Long Island. Both attended Penn State. Both relish the opportunity to block for Buc running back James Wilder. Both talk smart. And both play nasty.

“There’s nothing worse in my eyes than watching your own running back going down with somebody’s arms around his legs and seeing some defensive back come up just to get a cheap shot on him,” said Heller. “So I just try to get down there and pick those guys off before they do. It’s a cheap shot for me. Not a cheap shot, but a free shot.

“James Wilder is known as Tarzan because he takes a beating. So I figure any shot we can save him from, we’re better off.”

Even though the Bucs have lost 11 straight road games, Farrell is more concerned with when the Bucs play the Bears than where.

“One thing I’m not real happy about is that we play the Bears so early,” he said. “Their style of defense is so unique and uncommon that to get ready for it takes more time than you really have. Often times, your inadequacies in the field against the Bears aren’t physical problems. A lot of them are mental.”

“As a quarterback, the Bears make your reads very difficult,” said Tampa Bay quarterback Steve DeBerg. “They’re the hardest team in the NFL to read.”

Worse for the Bucs, they are still learning first-year coach Leeman Bennett’s system. “If you could get a conventional team in your first game, it sure would make it a lot easier” said new Bucs offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye.

In their last four losses to the Bears, the Bucs have averaged less than a touchdown. Defensively, they are still reeling from the loss to injury of perennial all-Pro defensive end Lee Roy Selmon. They had hoped rookie No. 1 draft choice Ron Holmes could fill in, but Holmes reported late because of contract difficulties and promptly

injured his achilles tendon. His status for Sunday is uncertain.

Change in image

In short, Tampa Bay can’t rely on its defense as it once did. So Farrell and Heller, with encouragement from offensive line coach Kim Helton, are trying to change the team’s image.

“When I got here Sean told me to go out and hit everything you can and have fun out there,” said the 6-6, 285-pound Heller, a fourth-round find two years ago. “To be honest with you, I never imagined that football would be this much fun. I love playing the game out there with Sean.”

And he would love to intimidate a Bear or two Sunday afternoon.