#TBT: Chicago Bears Embarrass Cowboys, 44-0
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.
Taking out years of frustration and ineptitude, the Chicago Bears maimed, battered and slaughtered the Dallas Cowboys 44-0 in Week 11 of the 1985 season, a debacle still ranked as the most lopsided loss in Cowboys history.
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Coming into the match-up, it looked like a solid pairing between two division leaders, with Chicago (10-0) having the chance to clinch the NFC Central and Dallas (7-3) having the latest shot at knocking off the undefeated Bears. The Bears hadn’t triumphed over Dallas since 1971, a streak of 0-6 that included a 30-point loss in the 1977 playoffs.
Dallas, meanwhile, was in the midst of an amazing stretch, having made the playoffs every year from 1975-1983, and coming within a game of making the playoffs in 1984. In 1985 they would again make the playoffs, falling in the Divisional Round to the Los Angeles Rams, and were still coached by football genius Tom Landry and featured the third-best passing game in the NFL.
Instead of a close contest between two of the best teams in the conference, the nation witnessed an avalanche of brain-rattling hits and turnovers, as the Bears defense played its best game of the season, scored two touchdowns and twice knocked Dallas quarterback Danny White from the game.
The cataclysm for Dallas started late in the first quarter. Offensively, neither team had produced much, with the Bears picking up only one first down in the quarter and Dallas having little success running the all and already having committed one turnover. More ominously, the Bears pass rush was having its way with the Cowboys offensive line.
Snapping the ball from his own two yard line, White dropped back to pass. The line collapsed in front of him, and his pass was batted up in the air by Dan Hampton, with defensive end Richard Dent snagging the floater and scoring the one-yard touchdown.
Hampton noted after the game to the Chicago Tribune’s Bob Verdi that there wasn’t any kind of special blitz called on the play.
“It was just a routine pass rush. It was lucky that I tipped it. I was afraid for a moment that I deflected it out of the end zone, but then I saw two of our guys getting under it like they were fielding a punt,” Hampton told Verdi.
Getting the ball back down 7-0, White was sacked twice on the next series, and the Bears kicked a field goal on their next possession for a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter.
On the next series, linebacker Otis Wilson plastered White, who left the game with a concussion but would return in the third quarter.
Following a Bears punt, backup quarterback Gary Hogeboom, under duress from the Chicago defense, lofted an errant throw over the middle, where cornerback Mike Richardson snatched the rock and returned it 36 yards for the defense’s second touchdown of the first half and a 17-0 lead.
Hogeboom threw an interception on Dallas’ first play of the next series, which the Bears turned into a one-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Steve Fuller.
The score was 24-0 at the half, and could have been worse if Bears wide receiver Willie Gault hadn’t allowed a Fuller throw late in the second quarter to deflect off his shoulder pads, allowing defensive back Bill Bates to collect the interception.
Things got no better for Dallas in the second half, as they relied more on running Tony Dorsett to allow their quarterbacks to survive. White gamely came back from the concussion, only to have Wilson knock him out again with a jammed/sprained neck early in the third quarter.
The Bears offense, meanwhile, tacked on a field goal in the third quarter, with the drive relying on a nifty throw by running back Walter Payton, who after taking a pitch faked a reverse before lobbing a pass to backup tight end Tim Wrightman to the Dallas 6.
The Dallas defense – which had actually performed admirably in the face of their offense’s struggles, allowing only 13 points and limiting Payton through three quarters to about 40 yards – finally caved in the fourth quarter. After allowing a third field goal, Dallas gave up a pair of 30-yard runs by Payton and a rushing touchdown apiece to Calvin Thomas and Dennis Gentry to close the scoring at 44-0.
In pitching their first shutout of the season, the Bears defense was relentless, forcing five turnovers and giving up just 12 first downs in the game. They allowed only 52 rushing yards and held Hall of Fame back Dorsett to 44 yards on 12 carries, 22 of which came on his first run of the day.
The pass defense was equally ferocious, with Dallas quarterbacks completing only 15 of 39 throws for 167 yards and four interceptions. White and Hogeboom were battered throughout the game, with the Bears notching six sacks, including two by Dent.
The only game that rivaled the defense’s performance in the regular season was probably next week’s contest against Atlanta, but the Bears shutout and embarrassed a playoff Cowboys team – ranked eighth in yards and 11th in points scored in 1985 — in Dallas. It was an incredible feat, and everyone knew it.
“Our defense took the game away from them. It was just a matter of our offense mopping up,” Coach Mike Ditka said to Bernie Lincicome of the Chicago Tribune.
While the defense was the star, the offense continued to be one-note. Fuller completed nine of 24 passes for 164 yards with an interception, with Payton tacking on 33 yards on his completion. Without McMahon – and sometimes even with him – the Bears passing game was backsliding into the struggling unit of years past, when reaching 100 passing yards was considered a good game.
Thankfully, the Bears offensive line continued to batter away at defenses, allowing Payton and the other backs to pile up the yardage. After Dallas managed to slow the running game for three quarters, Payton tacked on a pair of 30-yard runs and ended up with 132 rushing yards on 23 carries. Payton topped 1,000 yards for the season during the game, and ran for 100 yards in his sixth straight game. Combined, the Bears ran for 216 yards on 40 carries, with three touchdowns.
As much as the passing game was struggling, the rushing game was picking up the slack, allowing the Bears to continue their undefeated streak at 11-0 coming off their slaughtering of America’s team. With what seems like his typical smirk, Hampton noted that the Bears could be called the team of the world’s other superpower.
“I don’t think we’ll ever be America’s Team. I don’t think we want to be America’s Team. But, if we keep playing like this, the other 27 teams in the league might start calling us the Kremlin’s Team. They might want to have us banned,” Hampton said to Verdi.
“America’s Team, that’s too syrupy. Now if you want to call us America’s Degenerate Team, that’s different,” added tackle Keith Van Horne.
In addition to embarrassing a conference power, the win also meant the Bears clinched the NFC Central for the second straight year, locking up a playoff spot.
The Bears, in particular the defense, were on a roll and looked like they couldn’t be stopped from flattening every team in their path. Up next was a mediocre Atlanta team, with a Monday night trip to Miami the week after.
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