#TBT: 1985 Chicago Bears crush Montana and the 49ers, 26-10


Greetings, Bears fans. With this being the 30th anniversary of the Super Bowl-winning Chicago Bears of 1985, here at Bear Goggles On we’ll be revisiting the regular season and playoff games — including re-watching them when possible — and posting information about a game each Throwback Thursday as we move closer to the 2015 regular season.

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This time, the Bears brought more than a defense to San Francisco, and the result was one of the best beatdowns of the season.

Nine months after a 23-0 shellacking in the NFC championship game at the hands of Joe Montana and a tough 49ers defense – a game in which the Bears threw for 37 net passing yards, allowed nine sacks and were taunted following the game for their absentee offense – the Bears pulverized San Francisco 26-10 in a game that wasn’t even that close.

It opened up with the Bears showing exactly what they didn’t have in that prior championship game: a passing game.

On the opening drive, Jim McMahon hit Walter Payton and backup tight end Tim Wrightman for completions to the 49ers 42 yard line, before launching a deep ball to Willie Gault down to the San Francisco 5. Two plays later, Payton plowed through Ronnie Lott for the early score.

“I was not going to come out and play them the way we played them last year,” Coach Mike Ditka told the Chicago Tribune’s Don Pierson. “I was going to establish something and that was the pass. We were not going to run, run, run, punt.”

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After a 49ers punt, another pass to Wrightman – filling in for an injured Emery Moorehead – moved the Bears to the 49ers 37 yard line. They eventually settled for the first of four Kevin Butler field goals and a 10-0 lead.

San Francisco, who was unable to figure out the Bears’ 46 defense all game, fumbled on its next two possessions, with Dan Hampton recovering the first miscue in the first quarter, and Otis Wilson the second in the following quarter. Both recoveries led to field goals, and a 16-0 lead partway into the second quarter.

Only Bears mistakes kept San Francisco in the game. Under pressure and deep in his own territory, McMahon lofted an off-balance throw – it looked like he had neither foot on the ground when he threw – deep over the middle, which 49er Carlton Williamson returned 42 yards for a touchdown. San Francisco would tack on a field goal before the end of the half.

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The Bears defense, which collected two turnovers and multiple sacks already in the first half, dominated the second-half. Allowing only 45 yards and three first downs in the second half, according to the Tribune’s Pierson, the defense shut out Montana and the vaunted 49ers offense for the last two quarters. The defense ended up collecting seven sacks in the game, led by two each from Richard Dent and Wilber Marshall.

The offense, meanwhile, hibernated for the first part of the third quarter before launching two typical, clock-eating drives that wore down the beleaguered San Francisco defense.

Starting the first drive at their own 21 in the third quarter, the Bears leaned on Payton and Matt Suhey as they ground down the 49ers defense. Aided by a late hit on McMahon, the drive ended in the fourth quarter with Butler’s final field goal of the game, making the score 19-10.

After yet another fruitless drive by the 49ers, the Bears started their next possession at their own 34 with a little more than 11 minutes left. Nine straight running plays opened the drive, before a 3rd and 8 conversion on a short pass to Suhey.

Two plays later, Payton scored from 17 yards out, this time carrying Lott into the endzone for the game’s final points. Score: Bears 26, San Francisco 10.

That final touchdown wasn’t quite the end of the game, though.

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In 1984, San Francisco Coach Bill Walsh used an offensive lineman in the backfield late in the game against the Bears. Chicago Coach Mike Ditka didn’t forget, and in closing out the 1985 demolition of the 49ers, Ditka had a response for Walsh.

With less than two minutes left and the game deep in mop-up time, Ditka sent rookie defensive tackle William Perry into the backfield, where the powerful but fat Perry carried twice for less than five yards as the Bears ran out the clock.

Speaking with the media after the game, it seems like the players appreciated the humor of the moment, but also the message Ditka sent the 49ers.

“They ran a big, fat offensive guard in the backfield against us last year,” Dan Hampton said to the Chicago Tribune’s Bernie Lincicome. “We thought we’d run a big, fat defensive lineman against them.”

“I mostly just tried to get out of his way,” Bears center Jay Hilgenburg told Lincicome. “I didn’t want him falling on me.”

It was a moment that drew chuckles from announcers and others, but Perry in the backfield would become a staple of the 1985 Chicago Bears, as he would eventually block, catch passes and score touchdowns. For now, Perry was just a 350-pound jab at Walsh.

With a domineering 26-10 win – with the Bears defense allowing only three points against a highly respected 49ers offense – the victory over San Francisco was clearly one of the high points of the season, and not just because of the revenge factor.

Offensively, the Bears showed they could move the ball throwing or running, as McMahon threw for more yards than Montana and Payton ran for 132 yards and the team for 189. While only his second 100-yard contest of the season, this would become the first of a nine-game stretch of 100-yard games for Payton.

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Defensively, though, is where the Bears made their mark. Seven sacks. Four forced fumbles, two recovered. Only 116 net passing yards allowed. Only 67 rushing yards allowed, three of which came in the second half. Best of all, only 11 first downs allowed to a 49ers offense that featured Montana, Jerry Rice, Wendell Tyler, Dwight Clark, Roger Craig and other solid players.

It was the start of a dominating run from the defense. While the offense would be up and down in the coming weeks, the defense went on a tear the league hadn’t seen since the heyday of the Steel Curtain in the mid- to late 1970s.

Prior to the win over the 49ers, the Bears defense had been inconsistent; weak showings against Tampa Bay (twice) and Minnesota were contrasts to strong showings against Washington and New England.

This was the start of something different. The Bears had terrorized the world champions, allowing less than 200 yards of offense and beat-up Joe Montana. Their aggressive defense, already the team’s calling card, became an unholy terror. Only once over the next six weeks would the Bears allow 10 points. Two games in that stretch were shutouts. Only one team ran for 100 yards, Atlanta, who also had a net passing yardage of negative-22. Three teams had less than 200 yards of offense in that stretch.

The Bears, as everyone remembers them, were off and running at 6-0. Up next was a Monday night date with the Green Bay Packers.

Next: Chicago Bears: Potential Break Out Players (Defense)

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