1985 Chicago Bears Blast Minnesota Vikings, 27-9


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.

There was no encore offensive performance for the Fridge, but all three facets clicked for the Chicago Bears as they pounced on the Minnesota Vikings early and didn’t let up.

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In one of their easiest wins in the first half of the 1985 season, the Bears jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and cruised to a 27-9 triumph over the Vikings in a game highlighted by both the Bears’ balanced offense and terrifying defense.

The Vikings came into the game at 4-3, having defeated San Diego 21-17 in Week 7 and knowing they played Chicago tough in Week 3 in a 33-24 loss. They’d been leading that Week 3 contest in the third quarter before Bears quarterback Jim McMahon came off the bench to throw three third quarter touchdowns to put the game on ice. Despite the loss, the Vikings had held the Bears running game in check, and thrown for more than 400 yards.

Coming into the Week 8 game, the Vikings had every reason to be confident. They left with no reason for optimism at all.

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The scoring started on the Bears’ first offensive possession, with McMahon hitting Dennis McKinnon for a 33-yard touchdown. It was already the seventh receiving touchdown for McKinnon in only eight games, but would be the last touchdown he would score until the postseason.

The Bears tacked on a field goal by Kevin Butler later in the first quarter and in the second quarter, while the Vikings would get on the board with a 1-yard run from running back Darrin Nelson.

The 13-7 lead fattened out to 20-7 in the third quarter as linebacker Otis Wilson snagged a Tommy Kramer pass and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown. The Bears would tack on another touchdown in the fourth quarter when McMahon hit running back Walter Payton for a 20-yard score.

“I think they let us score from way out because they didn’t want William Perry to get in the backfield,” Payton told Don Pierson from the Chicago Tribune.

The Vikings closed out the scoring when they sacked backup quarterback Steve Fuller in the endzone for a safety, but the result was already determined at that point.

Despite only contributing 20 points, the Bears offense put together one of its best days yardage wise, with Payton gaining 118 yards on only 19 carries and the team collecting 202 yards on the ground on 39 attempts.

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The passing game, meanwhile, continued its up and down season. One week after McMahon struggled against Green Bay, he completed 18 of 31 passes for 181 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Fuller was one of three for 34 yards, and was the lone victim of a Viking sack on the day. Seven Bears caught passes, with the majority going to Payton, Matt Suhey and Emery Moorehead. Contributions from the wide receivers were scarce, as McKinnon’s lone catch was the first quarter touchdown, Willie Gault only caught one ball and little-used James Maness also snagged one pass.

The offensive balance continued the narrative the Bears started in Week 1; this was no longer a Bears unit that opposing teams simply had to stop Payton to control Chicago’s offense. McMahon, while not in the top-tier of quarterbacks in the league at this point due to his inconsistency, still needed to be dealt with.

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It was the defense, though, that really continued to impress, and was now playing at a level that demanded only one thing from the Bears offense: Don’t screw up, and we’ll be fine.

The Vikings were one of a handful of teams playing the Bears in 1985 that seemed to come into a game already conceding that they couldn’t run on the Bears defense. Minnesota collected only 30 rushing yards, on a paltry 14 attempts.

Given the dominance of the Bears pass defense, maybe the Vikings should have tried to run the ball more.

The Bears notched four sacks – two from Wilson, one from Mike Hartenstine and the first career sack of William Perry – and picked off five passes. Wilber Marshall collected two interceptions, while Duerson, reserve cornerback Ken Taylor and Wilson each picked off one, with the latter returning his for a score.

“Somebody tipped it, and I just tried to get outside. I beat that guy to the corner (tackle Tim Irwin). It would be embarrassing if a fat offensive lineman caught me,” Wilson told Pierson.

The pass rush harried Kramer into a 16 of 33 day for 176 yards and three interceptions, just weeks removed from when Kramer lit up the Bears for more than 400 passing yards. Wade Wilson, who relieved Kramer late in the contest, was equally unsuccessful, going 5 of 13 for 60 yards and two interceptions.

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After the game, Kramer testified to how well the Bears defense played.

“The Bears are the best team we’ve faced,” he told the Tribune. “They put a lot of pressure on you and create turnovers. They have outstanding people. Their scheme is working because they have the personnel to do it.”

At 8-0, the Bears were rolling and rolling over everyone in their path. A handful of playoff-caliber teams had already fallen, and now the Bears were feasting on easier prey. The offense was proving that it could be more than an afterthought, and the defense was showing that it could be more than the best unit in the league.

“What today showed is we have a lot of ways to win. If we put it all on the right track, we can be pretty darn good,” Coach Mike Ditka told Pierson.

Next: Top 10 Quarterbacks in Bears History

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