Don't be surprised if the grand ghosts of Titletown migrate south for the rest of this winter.
Today, Chicago's William (The Refrigerator) Perry went in motion and caught a four-yard touchdown pass against the Green Bay Packers, and if that's not enough to force those ghosts to take flight, then nothing will.
The final was 16-10, Bears, and if you're looking for the primary reason Chicago overcame a three-point deficit in the fourth quarter to rise to 9-0, look no further than No. 34, running back Walter Payton.
Today, in the 44-degree chill of Lambeau Field, Payton carried 28 times, stiff-arming his way for 192 yards. This included the game-winning 27-yard touchdown run with 10:31 to play.
This was Sweetness at his sweetest. Payton, the league's all-time rushing leader, surpassed 14,000 yards for his career in the first quarter, reached the 100-yard mark for the 68th time in his career and, equally as remarkable, for the 13th time in 20 games against the Packers (3-6). This was the third-highest rushing total of his career.
"Payton's exhibition was as good as I've ever seen a guy with a football in his hands," Chicago Coach Mike Ditka said. And Bears fullback Matt Suhey said, "When you measure his heart, that's when you see his true ability. He's been around 31 years and hasn't gone past 23."
Consider, too, that Payton managed this after cornerback Mark Lee shoved him over the Bears bench on his third carry of the game. Lee was ejected for the action, which was symbolic of a game that had 15 penalties and enough cheap shots to make you believe that this was the 131st meeting between some prideful Midwesterners.
"It was like that game Rock 'Em-Sock 'Em Robots," said Payton. "You know, where they try to knock each other's block off."
The pregame buildup was a tad messy. Chicago papers quoted Bears receiver Dennis McKinnon as belittling the "Green Bay Quackers" and quoted Packers tackle Greg Koch as calling Bears Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dan Hampton "a frustrated rock star."
Several Bears said a bag of fertilizer was left in their locker room before the game with a note from a local radio station. "It said 'This is what we think of you guys,' " Bears safety Gary Fencik said.
Pity the poor Pack. Today, the Bears continued their season-long magic of finding a way to win and the Packers continued their decade-long version of anti-Vince Lombardi football.
Green Bay had the Bears prone late in the third quarter. That's when quarterback Jim Zorn, named by Packers Coach Forrest Gregg to start in place of ineffective Lynn Dickey, beat a blitz.
Zorn threw off his back foot to fullback Jessie Clark, who caught the ball over the middle for a 55-yard touchdown play. Clark nimble-footed in the open field past safety Fencik near the Chicago 10 and suddenly the Packers led, 10-7, with 5:15 left in the quarter.
"They made two big plays," Gregg said, "and we made one and that pretty well sums it up."
Not exactly, Forrest. Three botched fourth-quarter plays followed the 55-yard scoring play and likely will haunt the Packers.
First, the Packers' Phillip Epps chose to call a fair catch of Maury Buford's punt at the Green Bay 4, rather than giving the ball a chance to bounce into the end zone for a possible touchback.
Three plays later, defensive tackle Steve McMichael beat guard Ron Hallstrom and sacked Zorn in the end zone for a safety. The Bears had closed to 10-9 with 12:18 left.
Packers punter Joe Prokop then hit a low, line drive on the free-kick following the safety. The poor punt allowed McKinnon to make a 16-yard return to the Green Bay 49. No wonder the Packers brought several punters in for a tryout this week.
Prokop's punt represented Packers Mistake No. 2. Just three plays later, linebacker Brian Noble made the third mistake. He tried to tackle Payton around the shoulders. Payton bounced away from him and slid away for the game-winning 27-yard score.
Zorn tried to rally the Packers, but the attempt died at the Chicago 45 with an incompletion with 1:01 left.
So, once again, the Bears found a way to win. They won even though quarterback Jim McMahon had his worst day, completing nine of 20 for just 91 yards. McMahon refused to talk to reporters afterward. His hair was spiked, and his attire was gray leather and his parting remark to the media was, "Nine and oh and away we go."
In the locker room, Perry was again being saluted for flooring the Packers. Two weeks ago, Perry was deployed in the backfield, ran for one score and blocked for two others, tormenting these Packers in a 23-7 win.
Still, who would have believed that, in the frigid air today, the Bears would throw to their own Frigidaire?
Hampton said Perry's score prompted him to run on to the field to congratulate a teammate who had scored "and I have never done that before."
Perry, the 308-pound defensive tackle, said he had never caught a pass before. Tight end Emery Moorehead said that, as McMahon waited nearly three minutes as the 55,343 refused to hush, "I heard their safety tell their linebackers, 'They'll bring (Perry) over here and block you.' They were wrong."
Green Bay linebacker George Cumby, who had been plastered by Perry's blocks two weeks ago, waited too long to follow Perry, as he went in motion across the line and that cost him.
But Gregg insisted that his team wasn't surprised by the play. "In fact, we ran that (same) play in practice," he said.
"He's got one catch now," Ditka deadpanned. "He's 698 behind (Hall of Famer Don) Maynard."
Perry didn't spike the ball.
"My hands were too cold," he said. Someone asked him the name of the play and Perry just smiled. "I forgot," he said.
Across the room, Payton said, "We think we are a pretty good ball team and we're not supposed to lose to them."