We began to take a daily look at some Super Bowl memories yesterday. I opened the series that will lead right up to Super Bowl 50 with my earliest Super Bowl memory: losing my first bets of my gambling career to Marcus Allen.
Today, we skip over the next Super Bowl, although it was a dandy. It featured two of the top ten quarterbacks of all time as Joe Montana took down this young upstart quarterback named Dan Marino in what would be his only shot at Super Bowl glory in one of the most amazing careers in NFL history.
But that Super Bowl had nothing on 1985. It was the Super Bowl that the Chicago Bears became the ultimate hype machine.
There are a lot of reasons that the Patriots and Bears Super Bowl was memorable, especially for a ten-year old boy. The Chicago Bears were the first hyped up team in my lifetime. The Bears were headed to the Super Bowl and EVERYBODY KNEW IT.
My earliest memory of Super Bowl XX was that the New England Patriots got on the board first, behind a Tony Franklin field goal. It was like when Rocky finally broke the mighty Russian’s skin and the crowd went wild. That Monsters of the Midway defense was cut!
Unlike Drago, the Bears would recover. And they would do it rather quickly. I remember seeing that infamous stat box pop up, letting the world know that the team that had scored first in Super Bowl history won over 80-percent of the time. That number would fall after the Bears went on to score 44 unanswered points.
The most memorable part of this Super Bowl was the personality the Bears brought to the game. For all of the hype leading up to the big game, they did not fall short of putting it on full display for the entire nation during the game. Simply put, the ’85 Bears team was everything advertised.
And they were led by their spunky quarterback.
Not since Broadway Joe Namath was there a Super Bowl quarterback more captivating than Jim McMahon (similarly, neither were ever really good NFL quarterbacks, yet their personas kept them in the spotlight longer than they needed to be). McMahon was the hard-nosed, sunglass and headband wearing, bad boy voice of one of the most ferocious teams of my youth.
He would dive headfirst and run with reckless abandon like a runaway train while other quarterbacks would slide. He would extend plays by being one of the better roll-out quarterbacks in the league.
And he had the headbands. McMahon made waves earlier in the season by wearing an unsanctioned Adidas headband and getting fined. The following week, in rebellion he wore a headband that simply read Rozelle blatantly calling out the then commissioner.
Super Bowl XX would see the best of both of these attributes.
The world waited to see what McMahon would wear on his head. Would he defy Rozelle on the NFL’s biggest stage? Much like Madonna in concert, McMahon did wardrobe changes and sported three different headbands throughout the contest. The first read JDF Cure in support of Juvenile Diabetes, the second said POW-MIA and the third said Pluto, in honor of his friend who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor.
His toughness was on full display as well, as the would score two of the Bears four rushing touchdowns in the contest.
Surprisingly, the greatest running back of all time, Walter Payton — who was playing in the lone Super Bowl of his storied career — would not score any of those rushing touchdowns. In fact, the Pats kept Sweetness pretty much in check, limiting him to 61 yards on 22 carries, with a long run of seven measly yards.
Instead, the Bears big fullback Matt Suhey would score their first touchdown, with McMahon punching in the next two offensive touchdowns. The fourth rushing touchdown? That was saved for the biggest running back in Super Bowl history.
The 23-year old behemoth rookie would make a splash in Chicago and the entire nation would fall in love with The Fridge. William Perry registered five sacks in his rookie season as part of the greatest defense of my generation, but it was what he did out the backfield that everyone loved. And Mike Ditka gave him that chance that January 26th night in Louisiana.
As the third quarter wound down, The Fridge would come out of the backfield like a freight train — as he had already done twice during the season — and put the Bears up 44-3. The romp was almost over, but not before the final memorable moment of Super Bowl XX.
What defined the 1985 Chicago Bears was their pizzazz and their pummeling. They spoke loudly, but they beat down everyone in their path. Their run to their 18-1 season included a three game playoff romp that they outscored their opponents 91-10, including back-to-back shutouts and a garbage time touchdown as SB XX wound down. That defense is still the yardstick for every defense today.
And in the fourth quarter Henry Waechter sacked Steve Grogan in the end zone for a safety to put the cherry on top of one of the greatest seasons by a defensive unit ever… if not the best.
Any time a defense is atop their game, the question arises: how do they compare to the ’85 Bears? 30 years after their dominating season, nothing has changed. They will always be the team that is the measuring point.
Seven sacks. Two interceptions, one of which Reggie Phillips took it to the house and put up six. Four fumble recoveries. And the safety for a dominating 46-10 performance.
The only thing more memorable than the Monsters of the Midway was the Super Bowl Shuffle.
They rapped. They made the first hype video. And they delivered.
Simply put, the ’85 Bears weren’t here to cause any trouble. They were just here to do the Super Bowl Shuffle.
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