Jan. 26, 1986 New Orleans
Bears Don't Shuffle, They Waltz, 46-10
By Gary Pomerantz
NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 26 Stop the world. The New England Patriots want to get off.
After all, how in the name of George Halas were they supposed to win Super Bowl XX today when they were opposed by a Chicago Bears defense that played like Purple People Eaters behind a Steel Curtain on Doomsday?
Sing it this way, Windy City: Chicago 46, New England 10, before 73,818 at the Louisiana Superdome for the first National Football League title since 1963 for the club and the city of Chicago.
Coach Mike Ditka, a tight end on the 1963 Bears team, said: "It was a long way, but it was worth it. A lot of dreams have been fulfilled, a lot of frustrations have been ended."
"I don't think the '63 defense could stand up to this one. These guys are awesome."
This represented the most points scored by one team and the largest margin of victory in Super Bowl history, even larger than the Los Angeles Raiders' 38-9 victory over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII.
Soon after the Bears (18-1) had become the second team in history to win 18 games in one season (matching the mark of the 49ers last season), defensive tackle Steve McMichael said, "I was ready for Bourbon Street in the third quarter."
Said New England Coach Raymond Berry: "They called the right defenses at the right time . . . The fumbles I saw, they knocked the tar out of us. I just don't think there is one more darn thing we could have done today."
It was a victory punctuated by a one-yard touchdown flop by the Bears' rotund, gap-toothed rookie, William (The Refrigerator) Perry, whom Ditka described as "about 310 pounds, eyes of blue, about the cutest thing you ever saw."
Perry's touchdown gave the Bears a 44-3 lead and, remarkably, 3:25 still remained in the third quarter. Earlier in the game, Perry ran right and actually faked a pass, before being dropped. Rest assured, this Chicago is a 45-man Terminator.
All the Bears defense did today was accumulate seven sacks which tied a Super Bowl record and included a fourth-quarter safety by reserve tackle Henry Waechter and cause six turnovers that led to 26 points. Weren't the wild-card Patriots (14-6) supposed to be the turnover technicians?
Furthermore, the Bears defense limited the Patriots to negative 19 yards in total yardage in the first half (a Super Bowl Record) when the Bears built a 23-3 lead.
The Bears defense also forced Patriots starting quarterback Tony Eason into such a timid and confused funk that all six of his passes fell incomplete before he was benched for good with five minutes left in the first half. Eason played as if full of fright, ducking into one sack. He looked like a Popsicle: absolutely frozen.
You want to talk about the Patriots' running game? Eleven carries netted seven yards. Average: 0.6 yards per carry, another Super Bowl record. Patriots running back Craig James (five carries, one yard, one lost fumble) looked like an inmate butting his head against a cell wall.
"The best defensive performance I've ever seen," Ditka said.
Most impressively, the Bears defense yielded a total of 10 points in three postseason games. All 10 came today.
The first three points evolved a three-play, zero-yard drive after a rare Walter Payton fumble on the game's second play (quarterback Jim McMahon took the blame, saying he called the wrong formation). The other seven Patriots points came when mercy allowed an eight-yard Steve Grogan-to-Irving Fryar pass for the game's final touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Bears defensive end Richard Dent was voted the game's most valuable player. He forced two first-half fumbles and recorded 1 ½ sacks, which is remarkable production for a guy who considered sitting this one out as a show of protest for his $90,000 contract for this season.
McMahon alternated headbands and receivers and passed for 256 yards and ran for two short touchdowns, before a sprained wrist and that 44-3 edge put him on the bench at the end of the third quarter. Wide receiver Willie Gault caught 129 yards worth of passes and rookie Kevin Butler kicked three field goals.
The lasting memory of today, though will be of the 46 defense, the creation of Buddy Ryan, the Bears' defensive coordinator. Ryan is the defensive Einstein of the NFL, at least for now.
"He is the MVP of our defense. He's a step ahead of everybody else," linebacker Mike Singletary said.
The Bears defense has been so dominant this season that when cornerback Reggie Phillips mad a 28-yard touchdown return off a deflected pass by Grogan for the 37-3 lead in the third quarter, Phillips became the ninth Chicago defensive player to score a touchdown this year.
So score this as a victory for Refrigerators, headbands and acupuncture and a massive defeat for the SPCQ, the Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Quarterbacks.
And just imagine what the score might have been if Payton, the league's all time leading rusher, had gained more than 61 yards on his 22 carries.
"I feel real bad for No. 34 right now. He waited a long time to get here and I know he's not feeling too well right now," said McMahon.
Payton said he would like to reach 18,000 yards for his career rushing total (he has nearly 15,000 now) and that should require "about three more years." He said he wanted to score a touchdown today, and when asked if he was surprised he didn't get the chance to make a short but symbolic scoring run when the outcome was no longer in doubt, he said: "Was I surprised? Yes. Was I disappointed? Yes."
When Payton fumbled on the second play from scrimmage and Patriots linebacker Larry McGrew recovered on the Chicago 19, it seemed like Super Bowl XX might be the worst thing to wrack Chicago since Mrs. O'Leary's cow.
But Eason threw incomplete on all three plays following the fumble. Tony Franklin's 36-yard field goal meant a 3-0 lead and the first points scored against the Bears during this postseason.
In three road playoff victories, the Patriots have averaged 42 running plays and 14 passes per game. But Berry called for Eason to throw on seven of the Patriots' 10 offensive plays in the first quarter. The result was five incompletions and two sacks. One of those sacks was by Dent and it caused by Dent and it caused a fumble that Bears recovered at the Patriots 13. This led to Butler's second field goal and a 6-3 lead with 1:26 left in the first quarter.
"I didn't think we could just run the ball down the Bears' throat," Berry said. "I thought it was really important to get some balance back in our offense."
Sixteen seconds after Butler's field goal, James was hammered in the backfield by Dent and lost a fumble, which the Bears recovered at the Patriots 13.
Fullback Matt Suhey ran 11 yards for a touchdown, taking a pitch right, then barreling forward for the 13-3 lead with 23 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Bears lead had hit 20-3 when Berry decided to make his move 5:08 left in the half. He yanked Eason and replaced him with Grogan, the 11-year veteran who hadn't played a game in two months because of injury.
"I told Tony it was the hardest decision in the world for me to make. . .but I thought it was in the best interests of the team," Berry said.
"I saw the confusion in his eyes," Singletary said of Eason. "We got to him early and I think he got rattled."
Grogan, who completed 17 of 30 passes for 177 yards, said of the Patriots strategy: "We were trying to loosen them up with the pass (at the outset) to open up with the run. But by the time the pass loosened them up, it was too late to run."
The Bears had outscored their opponents by 245-71 in the second half of games this season. Here's how the third quarter opened: Grogan was sacked by Steve McMichael, then by linebacker Otis Wilson.
Following a New England punt, McMahon connected with Gault for 60 yards, which arranged in part for McMahon's one-yard touchdown run. The Bears' lead was 30-3 with 7:22 left in the third quarter. So much for the Patriots' comeback.
The rest of Super Bowl XX was played for posterity. In the end, the game and the season belonged to Chicago's Shufflin' Bears.