The 1985 Chicago Bears are considered one of the best teams in NFL history and had perhaps the most ferocious defense in league annals under coordinator Buddy Ryan and his famed “46” scheme.
That group went 15-1 in the regular season, losing only to Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins in a Monday Night Football game that remains one of the highest-rated games in NFL history. The Rams and Giants were no match in the NFC playoffs for Chicago, but the Bears wouldn’t get a shot at payback against Miami in the Super Bowl as it was upset in the AFC postseason by wild-card New England.
The Patriots jumped out to a 3-0 lead in Super Bowl XX in New Orleans when Bears running back and future Hall of Famer Walter Payton fumbled at the Chicago 19, leading to a Tony Franklin field goal with just 1:19 elapsed in the game – it was the quickest lead in Super Bowl history. That was about the only highlight of the night for New England. The Bears, who were 10-point favorites, roared back for a 46-10 win, which at the time were the most points scored in Super Bowl history and the biggest blowout in the game (both since broken).
That vaunted Chicago defense tied the Super Bowl record for sacks with seven and held the Patriots to a record-low seven rushing yards. Bears defensive end Richard Dent had 1.5 sacks and was named the Super Bowl MVP, the fourth defensive player at the time to win that award. No defensive lineman has won it since.
Quarterback Jim McMahon was 12 of 20 passing for 256 yards and also rushed for two scores, the first QB to do that in the Super Bowl. Payton carried 22 times for 61 yards but didn’t score. Head coach Mike Ditka later said it was one of his career regrets to not let Payton get into the end zone. Ditka did let cultural icon and defensive tackle William “Refrigerator” Perry score on a one-yard run late in the third quarter. Ditka became the second person to win a Super Bowl ring as a player and coach.
The Bears looked set up for a dynasty but that group never made it back to the Super Bowl, in large part because McMahon couldn’t stay healthy. In addition, Payton’s career was winding down and Ryan would be hired as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Chicago finally played for another title at Super Bowl XLI in Miami. However, Peyton Manning led the Indianapolis Colts to a 29-17 victory on a rainy night in south Florida – Indy was a 6.5-point favorite. Manning was named the game’s MVP, completing 25 of 38 passes for 247 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Colts’ Tony Dungy became the first black coach to win a Super Bowl – that would be the only title for Dungy and, to this point, Manning.
About the only bright spot for the Bears was that Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a score, the first time the opening kickoff was run back for a touchdown in Super Bowl history. However offensively, the Bears had five turnovers behind erratic quarterback Rex Grossman. He’s now backing up Robert Griffin III in Washington.
Can the Bears win a second Super Bowl this season?