1985 Bears Coverage: Walter not too hot to trot for 120 yards

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.

Walter not too hot to trot for 120 yards

Herb Gould

Originally published Sept. 9, 1985

Walter Payton’s 120 yards gave him the 64th 100-yard rushing effort of his career. It was anything but no sweat for Sweetness.

“I don’t know how hot it was, but oh my,” Payton said. The highest reading on the field was 133 degrees, Walter.

Although Payton carried only 17 times (about a seven-yard average), he also caught six passes. And even when he wasn’t touching the ball, he said, he was in motion on many other plays, adding to the

fatigue factor. Payton left for a few breathers, but said the four cooling blowers stationed on each team’s bench provided little relief.

“Just a tease,” said Payton, who nonetheless posted a 26-yard rushing gain, his longest ever against Tampa Bay. “They were OK when you were under them, but as soon as you walked away, you were just as hot.”

HOT LINE: Tackle Jimbo Covert was impressed with the portable air conditioners. “They’re great. They really cooled you off,” said Covert, who took himself out for three plays because of heat fatigue.

Noting he was the only offensive lineman to take a heat break, Covert joked, “Either I can’t take the heat, or I was working harder out there. Offensive line coach Dick Stanfel told us to take

ourselves out if we didn’t feel 100 percent. Better to come out than get beat on a pass rush.”

When center Jay Hilgenberg was asked how much weight he lost, he said, “I don’t know. I’m afraid to weigh myself. It was unbelievable. I’ve never been on a field like that.”

Defensive tackle Steve McMichael didn’t mind the heat, though, saying, “Aw, it was nothin’.”

But then, he’s from Texas.

WHEN YOU’RE HOT: “After the first half, I didn’t even know my name out there,” said guard Kurt Becker. He knew his number in the first half, though. When the referee announced, “False start, No. 79,” Becker could be heard in the background saying, “It wasn’t me.”

The official corrected himself to “False start, No. 78,” which is Becker’s pal, Keith Van Horne. But Becker said he had no qualms about ratting on his buddy. “I’ve got enough problems,” he said.

Becker created one for himself when Jim McMahon handed him the ball after waltzing into the end zone to put the Bears ahead 38-28. Becker spiked it and was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct. “Next

time,” Becker said, “I’m handing the ball right back to him.”

BUTLER DID IT: Kevin Butler hit one of three field-goal tries, connecting on a 38-yarder and missing from 63 (short) and 45 (wide right) yards. But that wasn’t half of it.

“I think everything that could have happened happened,” said Butler, who was credited with the tackle on his first NFL kickoff. “I was just thinking, `Don’t let him get by.’ I didn’t know if there was anybody behind me,” said Butler, who bumped Phil Freeman out of bounds at the Bear 44.

Butler, who hit a 60-yarder for Georgia last season, said a 63-yard field goal, the NFL record, isn’t out of his range: “I just rushed it. I didn’t have to kick it that fast.”

HAPPY RETURNS? “I don’t think you can have a quiet afternoon back there,” said punt returner Ken Taylor, who saw a punt bounce over his head, then come back and bounce off him to set up the Bucs’ third touchdown.

In the last pre-season con test, Taylor fumbled a punt he wishes he had fair-caught and watched a

shanked punt roll for 60 yards after it appeared to be heading out of bounds.

This time, though, it wasn’t judgment. It was just the way the ball bounced.

“My rule when I’m standing on the 10 yard line is: If the ball goes over your head, don’t go back.” So Taylor moved up to block a Buc and give the ball time to get into the end zone. “Then I turned around to look and the next thing I knew, the ball was on top of me.

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