Walter Payton ran 72 yards for a touchdown and gained 179 yards for the game today, breaking Jim Brown's NFL combined yardage record as the Chicago Bears beat the Denver Broncos, 27-0.
Payton, who rushed 20 times, also caught two passes for seven yards for a combined total of 186, giving him 15,517 in the NFL to Brown's 15,459.
It was the eighth-best rushing game for the Payton, 30, who holds the single-game NFL rushing record of 275 yards, set against Minnesota in 1977. He now has 11,865 rushing yards, 447 short of Brown's record of 12,312.
"I'm feeling pretty good," Payton said afterward. "It was a tremendous win and the victory means more than anything. It's our best start in a long time. When things go right, they go right."
He was referring to the 72-yard run, the longest touchdown run of his 10-year career, which came off the wrong formation.
"Jimbo (Covert) was supposed to pull and didn't," said Payton. "I sliced through and after I hit the outside I kept my balance and took off. They charged down and I drifted out."
Coach Mike Ditka said the play can be run off both of the Bears' formations.
"The players did what the quarteback called," said Ditka, "I wanted it to go strong left to get (Dennis) Smith, the safety, out of the play. As it turned out, he wasn't in the play at all."
Payton, who did not play in the fourth quarter, got that touchdown in the second period, staking the Bears (2-0) to a 17-0 lead. He started around his left end, cut back after receiving a couple blocks and eluded cornerback Mike Harden as he breezed into the end zone.
Earlier, Harden had been burned on a 61-yard touchdown pass from Jim McMahon to Willie Gault, giving the Bears a 10-0 lead in the first quarter after Bob Thomas had kicked a 38-yard field goal.
Someone informed Payton that Brown had said he would like to be a special guest when Payton breaks his record. "I'll do anything he wants," Payton said. "I'll even foot the bill for him. Throwing the football the way I did probably will cost me $500 or $1,000."
Payton threw the football high into the stands when he scored on the 72-yard run. But he also had the game stopped and was given the ball when he surpassed Brown's combined rushing total.
The Bears got their first shutout since blanking Tampa Bay last season; it was the first time the Broncos (1-1) had been shut out in 85 regular-season games, dating to a 23-0 loss to San Diego in the 1978 season.