MIAMI – At least three generations have now grown up cherishing, reveling and idolizing the 1985 Chicago Bears, a team that won a Super Bowl before they were born and that they never saw play.
The ’85 Bears featured six Hall of Famers, including Walter Payton, Jimbo Covert, Dan Hampton, Richard Dent, Mike Singletary and “Da Coach,” Mike Ditka – although Ditka was voted into the Hall as a player, not a coach.
That club featured nine Pro Bowlers with Jay Hilgenberg, Jim McMahon, Otis Wilson and Dave Duerson, and Wilber Marshall and Steve McMichael would also go to the Pro Bowl the following season.
Covert, Payton, Singletary, Dent and McMichael were all first team All Pros that year, and Hampton, Wilson and Gary Fencik were second team All Pros.
Their 46-10 victory in Super Bowl XX brought their record to 18-1 on the season.
Sixty-four was a big number for them as they forced a mind boggling 64 turnovers – four or more in eight different games – and notched 64 QB sacks, second only to the NFL record 72 they totaled in 1984 with much of the same cast.
In 10 home games, the Bears defense gave up an average of 7.4 points/game, they allowed 10 points or less in 14 of their 19 games, gave up 12.4 points/game on average for the season, they allowed just 10 points total in three playoff games, shutting out the Giants in the divisional playoff and Rams in the NFC title game and they outscored three playoff opponents, 91-10.
Not to be outdone, the offense led the NFL in rushing, Payton averaged 4.8 a pop at the age of 31 and Willie Gault averaged 21.3 per reception and Dennis McKinnon 17.9.
They were a juggernaut the likes of which the NFL had never seen.
How much does anyone remember about the actual game in the New Orleans Superdome?
I certainly remember the pep rally in New Orleans the afternoon before, when an estimated 50,000 Bears fans lined the river walk along the “Mighty Mississippi River” and Wayne Larrivee, Chuck Swirsky and I emceed from the stage of our radio station’s mobile production studio welcoming luminaries – including Mayor Harold Washington – to the delight of the “Hurricane”-lubricated crowd.
While the halftime show was memorable for being dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr., coming just six days after the first-ever Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance, it was perhaps the only thing about the game that wasn’t truly super with the entertainment coming from “Up With People.”
The game actually threatened to be competitive early after Payton fumbled a handoff from McMahon on the second play of the game at the Bears’ 19, and after a three-and-out the Patriots kicked a field goal just 1:19 into the game setting a Super Bowl record for fastest score ever. It stood for 20 years until Devin Hester broke that record returning the opening kick 20 years later in XLI 92 yards to the house.
The Bears responded with a seven-play, 59-yard drive, ignited by a 43-yard hookup from McMahon to Gault setting up a Kevin Butler field goal to tie it, the Pats and Bears traded punts and then the rout was on.
Hampton recovered a fumble at the Patriots’ 13, but the Bears had to settle for a chip shot field goal after William “Refrigerator” Perry was stuffed inside the three and then sacked trying to throw a halfback option pass.
Singletary recovered another fumble at the New England 13 next, and Matt Suhey took it in for the score from the 11 to make it 13-3 and the Bears never looked back. They led 23-3 at the half and 44-3 to start the fourth quarter.
The Bears outgained the Patriots, 408-123, forced six turnovers and had an 18-and-a-half-minute time-of-possession advantage.
The only negative came with 3:22 to play in the third quarter, when Ditka elected to give the ball to Perry for a 1-yard touchdown run making it 44-3, and denying Payton the Super Bowl touchdown he coveted.
Super Bowl XX was more than just a moment in time for the Bears, it was one of the greatest 60 minute performances by any team ever in the history of the game.