The Redskins worried all week about the running ability of Chicago quarterback Vince Evans. They should have been more concerned about his passing.
Evans ran the ball only six times today, but he threw 18 passes. Three went for touchdowns as he passed for 210 yards and constantly outguessed Washington's veteran defenders.
"They had a great game plan," linebacker Monte Coleman said. "Give them credit. We thought we were prepared for them, we were confident going into the game, there was a lot of intensity in the locker room. But we could never get a handle on what Evans did. He kept crossing us up."
Evans didn't waste much time once the game started. On the fifth play of the first quarter, he showed the Redskins that he had done his weekly film-watching homework.
"He caught us in a good defense," Redskin Coach Jack Pardee confessed. "We were 'dogging' and our tackles were rushing to the outside. They trapped one of our tackles and he had a great hole. We figured they'd run to the outside or use a play-action pass."
Instead, Evans called an audible once he sensed a blitz from the linebackers. He sent Walter Payton up the middle through a huge hole left when defensive tackle Paul Smith was trapped in the backfield. Middle linebacker Neal Olkewicz tried to cut off Payton, but was blocked off and suddenly the Chicago halfback was racing through the secondary toward a 50-yard score.
"I got fooled on the play," Olkewicz said. "I should have gotten over there and stopped him. He should never have run for a touchdown. But they got a good block on me and I couldn't get there. It was a great call against our defense."
Before the defense could recover, Evans was at it again. Following a Redskin turnover, the quarterback found Washington in zone pass coverage. Receiver James Scott split its seam and Evans threw him a bullet. Scott finished off the 40-yard play for another touchdown.
"You can't give anyone as much time to pass as we were," Pardee said. "Evans had time to stand back there and find the open man. He got us on a blitz, then a zone and finally man to man."
That man-to-man defense came on a second and seven from the Chicago 46 early in the second period. Linebacker Rich Milot had the task of covering Payton, who ran down the middle of the field.
"I had him covered pretty well and then I looked back to see where the ball was," Milot said. "That's what did it. You lose speed in that case and he got a couple of steps on me. But it was a great pass by Evans. He laid it right in there. And Payton made a nice catch."
Once Payton caught the ball at the 10, Milot was finished. Payton romped into the end zone and Chicago was ahead, 28-0, all but putting the game away.
This was Evans' fourth straight start and he is getting better every week. In his last eight starts before today, he had completed seven passes of at least 52 yards, including touchdowns of 89, 65 and 64 yards.
"Because he can both run and pass, it keeps you off guard all the time," Milot said. "You never can relax. The way they scored, it happened so fast, it had to be unsettling."
This was the second straight week a young quarterback has unraveled Washington's defense. Last Sunday, Minnesota's Steve Dils turned his first NFL start into a showcase performance, passing for 206 yards. Evans, who loves to run out of the pocket but played under control today, was just as good, even though he threw only five times the second half as the Bears sat on a 35-0 lead.
Chicago's romp overshadowed a gutty display by Joe Theismann, who passed for 305 yards, his second best performance as a pro.
"This is the kind of day when you could care less about statistics," Theismann said. "All those passes sure made a lot of difference in the game, didn't they? I want to win, not run up stats."