The 1985 Chicago Bears season was their 66th regular season and 16th post-season completed in the National Football League. The Bears entered 1985 looking to improve on their 10-6 record from 1984 and advance further than the NFC Championship Game, where they lost to the 15-1 San Francisco 49ers. Not only did the Bears improve on that record, they completed what is still viewed by many as one of the top two seasons of any team all-time.
The Bears won fifteen games, as the 49ers had the year before, and won their first twelve before losing. The Bears' defense was ranked first in the league and only allowed 198 total points. The Bears won the NFC Central Division by seven games over the second place Green Bay Packers and earned the NFC's top seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs at Soldier Field. In their two playoff games against the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams, the Bears outscored their opponents 45-0 and became the first team to record back-to-back playoff shutouts. Then, in Super Bowl XX in New Orleans against the New England Patriots, the Bears set several more records. First, their 46 points broke the record that had been set by the Los Angeles Raiders in 1984 and tied by the 49ers the following year with 38. Their 36-point margin of victory topped the 29-point margin of victory that the Raiders had put up in Super Bowl XVIII and stood as a record until the 49ers won Super Bowl XXIV, also in New Orleans, by 45 points over the Denver Broncos. It was the Bears' first NFL World Championship title since 1963.
The 1985 season was also the team's cheerleading squad Chicago Honey Bears' final season with the team, as team owner Virginia Halas McCaskey eventually severed all ties with them.
The team's starting middle linebacker, linebacker Mike Singletary was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year and the UPI Defensive NFC Player of the Year. Running back Walter Payton won the NFC Offensive Player of the Year, head coach Mike Ditka was named NFL Coach of the Year and defensive end Richard Dent was named Super Bowl MVP.
The 1985 Chicago Bears are one of the few teams to consistently challenge the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins for the unofficial title of the greatest NFL team of all time. In 2007, the 1985 Bears were ranked as the second greatest Super Bowl championship team on the NFL Network's documentary series America's Game: The Super Bowl Champions, ranking behind the 1972 Dolphins. Many sources, however, such as ESPN, rate the 1985 Chicago Bears as the greatest NFL team ever.
The Bears were first in scoring defense, allowing only 198 points in the regular season, with an average of allowing only 12.4 points/game, as well as scoring more points than given up. They were also second in scoring with 456 points, trailing only the Chargers that season. They also led the league in turnover differential at plus-23. The team also had 4 shutouts over the Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, and the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams in the postseason.
Their defense, with their 46 defense and led by Buddy Ryan, was known for being one of the greatest in league history, with their linebacking corps (Mike Singletary, Wilber Marshall, and Otis Wilson) being ranked #5 for the greatest linebacking corps in NFL history in NFL Top 10. The Bears were famous (or infamous) for getting to the quarterback repeatedly, with a notable moment being a sack by Marshall against the Detroit Lions where he knocked quarterback Joe Ferguson unconscious. The irony of the defense's success was that two of the Bears top defensive players, linebacker Al Harris and strong safety Todd Bell, missed the entire season due to contract disputes. Additionally, the team possessed several talented offensive players to back up their defense.
After the loss to the Miami Dolphins, most of the team recorded the song The Super Bowl Shuffle (Defensive lineman Dan Hampton refused to participate due to the song's arrogance), becoming the first sports team to record a rap song (The 49ers recorded a post-disco song the year before). The song's popularity led to it being #41 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and the song funded $300,000 in profit for the Chicago Community Trust to help needy families in Chicago with clothing, shelter, and food, hence Walter Payton's rap lyric: "now we're not doing this because we're greedy, the Bears are doing it to feed the needy".
In 2011, the Bears made their visit to the White House, 25 years after their originally intended visit was cancelled due to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster (coincidentally, President Obama is a Chicago native and Bears fan).
After the draft, the Bears signed 3 undrafted free agents.
In a trade with the San Diego Chargers, the Bears acquired linebacker Cliff Thrift and punter Maury Buford by trading away their 12th round draft picks from 1985 and 1986, respectively.
During training camp, seven players, including Mike Singletary, Steve McMichael, Keith Van Horne and rookie William Perry, were either unsigned or holding out due to their contracts. Perry, McMichael and Van Horne eventually reported to training camp. Perry had held out until August 5, when he signed a four-year, $1.35 million contract. However, after an unimpressive showing at training camp, defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan tabbed Perry as a "wasted draft-pick". Before the team's season opening game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, players Al Harris, Todd Bell and Richard Dent requested to be traded. Dent and the Bears had been attempting to work out a contract extension, as his contract ran through the 1985 season, and paid him $90,000. Bell played for $77,000 the year before, and made the 1985 Pro Bowl roster, but asked for $950,000 annually, which would have made him the highest-paid player on the team. Bell and Harris would eventually hold out for the season.
1985 NFL Draft
Main article: 1985 NFL Draft
||September 8, 1985
||Tampa Bay Buccaneers
||September 15, 1985
||New England Patriots
||September 19, 1985
||at Minnesota Vikings
||Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
||September 29, 1985
||October 6, 1985
||at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
||October 13, 1985
||at San Francisco 49ers
||October 21, 1985
||Green Bay Packers
||October 27, 1985
||November 3, 1985
||at Green Bay Packers
||November 10, 1985
||November 17, 1985
||at Dallas Cowboys
||November 24, 1985
||December 2, 1985
||at Miami Dolphins
||December 8, 1985
||December 14, 1985
||at New York Jets
||December 22, 1985
||at Detroit Lions
Regular season results
Week 1: vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In the season opener against the Bucs, the Bears defense seemed lost for much of the first half of the game by allowing 28 points, and trailed 28-17 at halftime, but the offense was able to lead the Bears to a victory after Jim McMahon scored 3 touchdowns, with Matt Suhey scoring on another. Leslie Frazier was also able to give the Bears defense their first highlight of the season by returning a Steve DeBerg interception 29 yards for a touchdown on the second play of the third quarter. The Bears had allowed 212 yards in the first half, but eventually allowed only 95 in the second half. Walter Payton had rushed for 120 yards on 17 carries, and McMahon completed 23/34 passes for 274 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Week 2: vs New England Patriots
In a Super Bowl XX preview, the Bears defense was able to find their groove by forcing 4 turnovers on New England, and allowing them to only a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Week 3: at Minnesota Vikings
The following week against rival Minnesota, backup quarterback Steve Fuller was called up to take the place of Jim McMahon, who was sidelined with a pinched nerve. With the Bears trailing the Vikings, eventually allowed an anxious McMahon to return to the game. Without any delay, McMahon spearheaded a Bears comeback and victory, with the game being famously called The Viking Miracle.
Week 4: vs Washington Redskins
at Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
- Date: September 29, 1985
- Game time: 12:00 p.m. EDT
- Game weather: 63 °F (17 °C)
- Game attendance: 63,708
- Referee: Bob Frederic
Week 5: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 6: at San Francisco 49ers
Nine months after their humiliating defeat at the hands of the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, the Bears claimed their revenge by sacking Joe Montana a then-career high seven times. In return for 49ers coach Bill Walsh's idea of sending in lineman Guy McIntyre in as fullback the season before, Mike Ditka sent in rookie William Perry in, but as a runner, rather than a blocker. After the game, Ditka was arrested for DWI.
As of 2013, this is the last time the Bears have won in San Francisco.
Week 7: vs Green Bay Packers
The Bears defeated the Packers on Monday Night Football in a decisive 23-7 victory, with Perry becoming a folk hero after scoring his first career touchdown on a 1-yard run.
Week 8: vs Minnesota Vikings
Week 9: at Green Bay Packers
The Packers increased tensions in the Bears-Packers rivalry after putting horse manure in the Bears locker room. However, the Bears had the last laugh against their hated rival, winning 16-10, and Perry scored his first career receiving touchdown along the way, and Packers Mark Lee and Ken Stills intensified the game after Lee sent Payton over a bench and Stills leveling Matt Suhey.
Week 10: vs Detroit Lions
Week 11: at Dallas Cowboys
at Texas Stadium, Dallas, Texas
- Date: November 17, 1985
- Game time: 12:00 p.m. EDT
- Game weather: 57 °F (14 °C)
- Game attendance: 63,855
- Referee: Gene Barth
In a student vs teacher matchup, the Bears shut out the Cowboys, handing them their worst loss in franchise history, as well as the first time they were shut out in 15 years. The win also gave the Bears the NFC Central division title.
Week 12: vs Atlanta Falcons
In the coldest game of the season, the Bears recorded their second straight shutout against Atlanta, with defensive lineman Henry Waechter sacking Bob Holly in the endzone for a safety.
Week 13: at Miami Dolphins
The Bears’ hopes for a perfect season were thwarted when Dan Marino and the Dolphins defeated the McMahon-less Bears on Monday Night Football, 38-24, who maintained the only undefeated season in league history. Miami struck first after Marino hit Nat Moore for a 33-yard touchdown. Bears backup Steve Fuller then threw a 69-yard pass to Willie Gault, and eventually snuck in for a 1-yard touchdown. After a Fuad Reveiz field goal to put Miami up 10-7, Marino hit Moore again that set up a Ron Davenport touchdown to increase the gap by 10 points. After the Bears scored on a Kevin Butler field goal, Marino hit Mark Duper on a crossing pattern for 52 yards. On 3rd and 7, he connected with Mark Clayton for 26 yards down to the Bears 1-yard line. Davenport then ran in, and the Dolphins led 24-10. Later, the Dolphins would increase their lead 31-10. The Bears had not allowed 31 points in one half since the 1972 season opener. The Bears then scored in the third quarter, but any momentum they gained was lost when Butler muffed the ensuing kickoff, which Dolphins rookie Alex Moyer recovered at the Bears 46. Dan Hampton then tipped a Marino pass into the air, and sailed downfield for 30 yards before landing in the hands of Clayton, who went into the end zone to make it 38-17. Fuller hit Ken Margerum for a 19-yard touchdown, but that would be the last score of the night for the Bears.
Week 14: vs Indianapolis Colts
In an attempt to recover from their humiliating loss in Miami, the Bears would defeat the Colts by a touchdown.
Week 15: at New York Jets
Week 16: at Detroit Lions
The game featured a particular sack on Lions quarterback Joe Ferguson where he was knocked unconscious by Bears linebacker Wilber Marshall.
Roster and Staff
|"I think we were just a group of guys that came together at a point in time, that really loved the game, and really loved each other. We had so much passion for the game, and so much pride in what we did."
|~Bears linebacker Mike Singletary (In an America's Game segment)
The Bears defense dominated the game by allowing only 32 rushing yards and sacked Giants quarterback Phil Simms for 60 yards. Simms was 14/35 for 209 yards while running back Joe Morris, the NFL's regular-season touchdown leader, finished with 32 yards on 12 carries. Chicago's first touchdown resulted on a New York punt attempt from their own 12-yard line. The wind, blowing at 13 mph, caught the ball just enough for punter Sean Landeta to completely miss it, and Shaun Gayle picked it up and ran 5 yards for a touchdown. Bears quarterback Jim McMahon later threw two touchdown passes in the third quarter, both to Dennis McKinnon. McMahon finished the game with 216 passing yards, while running back Walter Payton rushed for 94 yards.
The Bears defense dominated the game by limiting Rams running back Eric Dickerson to 46 yards, and holding quarterback Dieter Brock to 10 out of 31 completions for 66 passing yards. Los Angeles only gained 130 yards of total offense. Chicago quarterback Jim McMahon scored on a 16-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and later threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Willie Gault in the third quarter. Kicker Kevin Butler kicked a 34-yard field goal in the first period. In the fourth quarter, defensive lineman Richard Dent forced Brock to fumble, and linebacker Wilber Marshall picked up the loose ball and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown.
- NE - Tony Franklin 36 yd FG (NE 3-0)
- CHI - Kevin Butler 28 yd FG (3-3)
- CHI - Kevin Butler 24 yd FG (CHI 6-3)
- CHI - Matt Suhey 11 yd TD run (Butler kick) (CHI 13-3)
- CHI - Jim McMahon 2 yd TD run (Butler kick) (CHI 20-3)
- CHI - Kevin Butler 24 yd FG (CHI 23-3)
- CHI - Jim McMahon 1 yd TD run (Butler kick) (CHI 30-3)
- CHI - Reggie Phillips 28 yd interception return TD (Butler kick) (CHI 37-3)
- CHI - William Perry 1 yd TD run (Butler kick) (CHI 44-3)
- NE - 8 yd TD pass from Steve Grogan to Irving Fryar (Franklin kick) (CHI 44-10)
- CHI - Safety, Steve Grogan sacked in end zone by Henry Waechter (CHI 46-10)
The Patriots took a quick lead after linebacker Larry McGrew recovered a fumble from Walter Payton at the Chicago 19-yard line on the second play of the game, setting up Tony Franklin's 36-yard field goal 1:19 into the first quarter. The Bears struck back with a 7 play, 59-yard drive, featuring a 43-yard pass completion from Jim McMahon to wide receiver Willie Gault, to set up a field goal from Kevin Butler, tying the score 3-3.
After both teams traded punts, Richard Dent and linebacker Wilber Marshall shared a sack on Eason, forcing a fumble that lineman Dan Hampton recovered on the Patriots 13-yard line. Chicago then drove to the 3-yard line, but had to settle for another field goal from Butler after rookie defensive lineman William "Refrigerator" Perry was tackled for a 1-yard loss while trying to throw his first NFL pass on a halfback option play. On the Patriots' ensuing drive, Dent forced running back Craig James to fumble, which was recovered by linebacker Mike Singletary at the 13-yard line. Two plays later, Bears fullback Matt Suhey scored on an 11-yard touchdown run to increase the lead 13-3.
New England took the ensuing kickoff and ran one play before the first quarter ended, which resulted in positive yardage for the first time in the game (a 3-yard run by James). But after an incomplete pass and a 4-yard loss, they had to send in punter Rich Camarillo again, and receiver Keith Ortego returned the ball 12 yards to the 41-yard line. The Bears subsequently drove 59 yards in 10 plays, featuring a 24-yard reception by Suhey, to score on McMahon's 2-yard touchdown run to increase their lead, 20-3. After the ensuing kickoff, New England lost 13 yards in 3 plays and had to punt again, but got the ball back with great field position when defensive back Raymond Clayborn recovered a fumble from Suhey at their own 46-yard line. Patriots coach Raymond Berry then replaced Eason with Steve Grogan to see if he could spark the Patriots offense. But Grogan could only lead them to the 37-yard line and they decided to punt rather than risk a 55-yard field goal attempt. The Bears then marched 72 yards in 11 plays, moving the ball inside the Patriots 10-yard line. New England kept them out of the end zone, but Butler kicked his third field goal on the last play of the half to give Chicago a 23-3 halftime lead.
The Bears had absolutely dominated New England in the first half, holding them to 21 offensive plays (only 4 of which resulted in positive yardage), -19 total offensive yards, 2 pass completions, 1 first down, and 3 points. Meanwhile, Chicago gained 236 yards and scored 23 points themselves.
After the Patriots received the second half opening kickoff, they managed to get one first down, but then had to punt after Grogan was sacked twice. Camarillo, who punted 4 times in the first half, managed to pin the Bears back at their own 4-yard line with a Super Bowl record 62-yard punt. But the Patriots defense still had no ability to stop Chicago's offense. On their very first play, McMahon faked a handoff to Payton, then threw a 60-yard completion to Gault. Eight plays later, McMahon finished the Super Bowl record 96-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to make the Bears lead 30-3. On New England's second drive of the period, Chicago cornerback Reggie Phillips intercepted a pass from Grogan and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown to increase the lead 37-3.
On the second play of their ensuing possession, the Patriots turned the ball over again, when receiver Cedric Jones lost a fumble after catching a 19-yard pass from Grogan. A few plays later, McMahon's 27-yard completion to receiver Dennis Gentry moved the ball to the 1-yard line, setting up perhaps the most memorable moment of the game. William "the Refrigerator" Perry was brought on to score on offense, as he had done twice in the regular season. His touchdown made the score 44-3.
The Patriots finally scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, advancing the ball 76 yards in 12 plays and scoring on an 8-yard pass from Grogan to receiver Irving Fryar. But the Bears defense dominated New England for the rest of the game, forcing another fumble, another interception, and defensive lineman Henry Waechter's sack on Grogan in the end zone for a safety to make the final score 46-10.
One oddity in the Bears victory was that Payton had a relatively poor performance statistically running the ball and never scored a touchdown in Super Bowl XX, his first and only Super Bowl appearance during his Hall of Fame career. However, if one views the game and watches the Patriot's defense, it is clear that their primary goal was stopping Payton and he frequently had three and four defenders keyed on him on nearly every play. This allowed the rest of the Bears' offense far more opportunities to score than had the Patriots employed a more balanced defense. Ultimately Payton was the Bears' leading rusher during the game, the Patriots defense held him to only 61 yards on 22 carries, with his longest run being only 7 yards. He was given several opportunities to score near the goal line, but New England stopped him every time before he reached the end zone (such as his 2-yard loss from the New England 3-yard line a few plays before Butler's second field goal, and his 2-yard run from the 4-yard line right before McMahon's first rushing touchdown). Thus, Chicago head coach Mike Ditka opted to go for other plays to counter the Patriots defense. Perry's touchdown and McMahon's rushing touchdowns are widely considered as scoring opportunities that were denied to Payton. Ditka has since gone on record stating that his biggest regret of his career was not creating a scoring opportunity for Payton during the game.
McMahon, who completed 12 out of 20 passes for 256 yards, became the first quarterback in a Super Bowl to score 2 rushing touchdowns. Bears receiver Willie Gault finished the game with 129 receiving yards on just 4 receptions, an average of over 32.2 yards per catch. He also returned 4 kickoffs for 49 yards. Suhey had 11 carries for 52 yards and a touchdown, and caught a pass for 24 yards. Singletary tied a Super Bowl record with 2 fumble recoveries.
Eason became the first Super Bowl starting quarterback to fail to complete a pass, going 0 for 6 attempts. The Bears also dominated Patriots starting running back James, holding him to 1 yard on 5 carries, with 1 fumble. Grogan completed 17 out of 30 passes for 177 yards and 1 touchdown, with 2 interceptions. Although Fullback Tony Collins was the Patriots leading rusher, he was limited to just 4 yards on 3 carries, and caught 2 passes for 19 yards. New England receiver Stephen Starring returned 7 kickoffs for 153 yards and caught 2 passes for 39 yards.
- NFL Champions (9)
- National Football Conference Championship
- NFC Central Division Championship
- Richard Dent, Super Bowl XX Most Valuable Player
- Mike Ditka, 1985 AP NFL Coach of Year
- Mike Ditka, 1985 Sporting News NFL Coach of Year
- Mike Ditka, 1985 UPI NFL Coach of Year
- Walter Payton, Bert Bell Award
- Walter Payton, UPI NFC Player of the Year, Offense
- Mike Singletary, National Football League Defensive Player of the Year Award
- Mike Singletary, UPI NFC Player of the Year, Defense
- Mike Singletary, NFC Defensive Player of the Year
Hall of Famers
- 1988 Enshrinement Mike Ditka: 1961-1966 (player)
- 1993 Enshrinement Walter Payton: 1975-1987
- 1998 Enshrinement Mike Singletary: 1981-1992
- 2002 Enshrinement Dan Hampton: 1979-1990
- 2011 Enshrinement Richard Dent: 1983-1993, 1995
Players that became coaches
- Mike Singletary, Head Coach of the San Francisco 49ers (2008–2010); Minnesota Vikings (2011–present; assistant head coach/linebackers coach)
- Leslie Frazier, Head Coach of the Minnesota Vikings (2010–present)
- Ron Rivera, Defensive Coordinator of the Bears (2004–2006); Head Coach of the Carolina Panthers (2011–present)
- Brian Cabral, Interim Head Coach of the Colorado Buffaloes (2010)
- Steve McMichael, Head Coach Chicago Slaughter, CIFL (2007–present)
- Dennis Gentry, Running Backs Coach Chicago Enforcers, XFL (2001)
- Jeff Fisher, Head Coach of the Tennessee Titans, (1994–2010); St. Louis Rams (2012–present)
- a1 Kazor also served as the team's special teams coach, defensive assistant, and tight ends coach
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