The Doric colonnades rimming Soldier Field were appropriate backdrops today for a game that showed the National Football League is catching up with the sociological progress of the nation.
Doug Williams of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers indicated a sense of history when he came out throwing on first down in the first regular season game between two black starting quarterbacks, and completed it for a two-yard gain.
Vince Evans of the Chicago Bears had his first pass deflected by defensive end Wally Chambers, a former Bear. Such is the stuff that history is made of.
Predictably, developments became commonplace for a Sunday crunch and running backs Jerry Eckwood and Walter Payton took charge of making the news before the Buccaneers emerged as the NFL's only 5-0 team -- and an expansion team at that -- with a 17-13 victory.
Williams did not let the moment pass without making it notable. It was his eight-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Isaac Hagins that saddled the Bears with a 2-3 record, three games behind the Bucs in the NFC Central.
Evans is now 0-3 in his starts and he drew some boos. The boos caused no particular stir.
Eckwood, a rookie from Arkansas, ran 61 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and Payton took a short pass from Evans and ran 65 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter as the Bears regained the lead at 13-10.
Williams, completing 34.8 percent of his passes before the game, was good on 14 of 31 today for 168 yards and was intercepted twice. He was sacked once, the first time this season.
Evans, a 50 percent passer, connected on 12 of 23 for 173 yards, was intercepted once and stacked twice. It was the second straight week that Coach John McKay had successfully defensed one of his former Southern California quarterbacks. Last week it was Pat Haden of the Los Angeles Rams.
"I thought Vince played well," Mckay said. "He had a couple of long passes dropped and he made an excellent throw before he was intercepted; our (free safety) Cedric Brown just made a great play. We were dropping back so deep on defense there was no room for him to throw long."
Eckwood outgained Payton.The rookie rushed for 120 yards in 23 carries for a 5.2 average; Payton was held to 45 yards in 15 carriers, but caught five passes for 88 yards.
McKay said of Eckwood, "He was well-coached. He came right by me on that touchdown run and I said, 'Get going!'
"I guess we are ahead of our plan for the first five weeks," McKay said. "We thought we could beat the Bears. The thing we were worried about was Payton breaking loose, and he did.
"Who got the game ball? Some guy in the locker room here who happened to walk by . . . . That's all, I've got to take a shave and shower and go home."
After Payton's 65-yard touchdown catch and Bob Thomas' conversion put the Bears ahead, 13-10, with 10:50 to play, Thomas got off a line drive kickoff that linebacker Dana Nafziger ran back 19 yards to the Tampa Bay 46.
Eckwood and Ricky Bell got the ball to the Chicago 26-yard line with six straight rushes. On third and five, Williams took the snap, took just one step back and made a difficult, crossfield throw to wide receiver Gordon Jones for a 10-yard gain on reserve cornerback Mike Spivey.
Bell ran five of his 60 yards for the day; reserve Johnny Davis gained three and William was instructed to take a straight drop and pass to one of three receivers in a designated pattern. On his own, he pumped the ball once when he saw wide receiver Hagins get outside Spivey, then eased an eight-yard pass over the defender's head for a touchdown.
Williams, known for his powerful arm and split-second release, favored running backs with five of his 14 completions. Previously, McKay explained, he did not mind his quarterback not trying "three-inch throws because he is a big-play passer."
"I didn't know I could throw short," Williams said with a grin. "The press always said I couldn't."