Walter Payton had a 40-yard touchdown run in his seventh straight 100-yard game and William (The Refrigerator) Perry ran for another score today to lead the undefeated Chicago Bears to a 36-0 NFL victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
It was the second straight shutout for the Bears (12-0) after their 44-0 victory over the Dallas Cowboys last week. Only the 1934 Bears with 13 straight victories and the 1972 Miami Dolphins with 14 had better starts.
"Don't talk about the 1934 team," Bears Coach Mike Ditka said afterward. "They lost the championship."
The Bears defense has not allowed a point in nine successive quarters or a touchdown in the last 13 quarters. The last time the Bears had successive shutouts was in 1942.
"The defense couldn't play any better," Ditka said. "The way our defense is playing, nothing is too hard, and they're taking everything away from the other team."
Payton rushed 20 times for 102 yards to equal the record of seven straight 100-yard games shared by O.J. Simpson and Earl Campbell. It was also Payton's 71st career 100-yard game.
"This team has not reached its peak," Payton said. "We're capable of scoring 60 points. We don't know how good we are, and that's kind of scary."
Payton's touchdown run down the right sideline was part of a 20-point second quarter.
His score was followed by a 50-yard pass from Steve Fuller to Willie Gault to the Atlanta one-yard line, from which Perry dived into the end zone for a touchdown.
It was the third touchdown of the season for Perry, the 308-pound rookie defensive tackle who plays offense on goal-line situations.
The Falcons fell to 2-10. The closest they got to the goal line was the Chicago 18-yard line in the third quarter, when Gerald Riggs, the NFL's leading rusher, was held to one yard on a fourth-and-three situation. Riggs rushed 30 times for 110 yards and his fifth straight 100-yard game.
Despite the 20-point outburst in the second quarter, which began on field goals of 35 and 32 yards by Kevin Butler, it was the Bears' defense that dominated.
Through the first 29 minutes, the Falcons were unable to advance beyond their own 36-yard line and were held to three first downs.