Quarterback Jim McMahon, looking underdressed without a headband, said he felt strangely unsatisfied. When you win the Super Bowl the way he just did, it should be your greatest night, but, he said, it just didn't feel that way.
"It's just too bad we couldn't get 34 into the end zone," he said. "I know Walter (Payton) is not feeling real good right now, and I'm not feeling real good for him."
Three times in their record-breaking 46-10 rout of New England today in Super Bowl XX, the Chicago Bears could have handed the ball to Payton, their beloved 11-year veteran known as Sweetness.
Twice, McMahon kept the ball for touchdowns, the other time, he handed it to William (The Refrigerator) Perry for a crowd-pleasing one-yard belly-smacker.
Yet, throughout the raucous second half, the partisan Chicago crowd yelled for Payton. "WAL-TER, WAL-TER!"
He ran the ball often, 22 times for 61 yards to lead all rushers, but he didn't touch the ball when he could have had an easy touchdown.
Payton's comment: "Was I surprised? Yes. Was I disappointed? Yes."
Several of the Bears said after the game that they didn't realize Payton hadn't scored.
"You get into the game and don't realize those things," said Chicago center Jay Hilgenberg. "If I had known that, I would have wanted him to score."
Chicago Coach Mike Ditka said it's "very hard to focus on one person" near the goal line.
But he did realize that in a game where his team seemed to be able to score at will, in a game where the Fridge almost threw a pass, for heaven's sake, it's hard to figure his team's long-suffering hero being shut out.
"I was disappointed Walter didn't score, but our plays are not designed for him to score near the goal line," Ditka said. "He complements our offense. You can't hand it to him every down."
McMahon criticized the play selection near the goal line.
"I don't think we used Walter as much as we should have or could have," he said. "You get to this point, and (he) doesn't score a touchdown . . . . "
Even Payton found it all hard to believe. "It hasn't really sunk in yet," Payton said. "Being ahead by so many points so early in the game, it's kind of hard to really look back and savor it."
It was quantity, not quality, they will remember. They scored 46 points, the most ever in a Super Bowl.
Theirs was the largest margin of victory in a Super Bowl. They scored 21 points in the third quarter alone.
For an offense that's supposed to be an afterthought on this bruising team, that's not too bad.
"The offense got off to a real slow start," said middle linebacker Mike Singletary, "but then it got real hot."
Hottest of all was McMahon, who completed 12 of 20 passes for 256 yards before leaving with a sprained left wrist, just another in his series of weird injuries.
"McMahon put a lot of critics to rest," said Ditka. "He is our trigger man and I love him. He's got the guts of a burglar."
When he wasn't hitting Willie Gault off of play-action or scrambling like a wild man or turning head-over-heals on the tackle of the game by Patriots cornerback Ronnie Lippett, he was changing headbands.
First came "JDF CURE," in honor of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. Then, "POW-MIA" for the unaccounted servicemen in Vietnam.
Then, "PLUTO," in honor of a teammate from Brigham Young named Dan (Pluto) Plater who has been battling a brain tumor.
After he wore his "Rozelle" headband two weeks ago in the NFC championship game, McMahon said he received "hundreds" of headbands from people around the country.
"I don't remember all the ones I used," he said to reporters, now wearing black-and-white polka dot sunglasses, sans headband.
"I couldn't wear them all. I tried to stick with the charities."
Perhaps the only bad moment the Bears had today came on their second play, when Payton fumbled and New England recovered at the 19, leading to the Patriots' only points (a Tony Franklin field goal) until the fourth quarter.
The fumble came on a blown play, McMahon said.
"I screwed up and called the wrong play," he said. "That fumble was my fault. Other than that, I think we played pretty well on offense."
The play was supposed to be a slant to the other side of the field, McMahon said.
"The formation was called improperly and we didn't get the blocking we should have," Ditka said.
The Bears hardly were shocked by the fumble. They were angry later, figuring the play cost their defense a shutout, or at least a good chance at one.
Ironically, as the Bears got ready to leave their locker room to begin the game, Ditka cautioned them on one final point.
"Don't let one bad play ruin it," he said.