#TBT: Chicago Bears Ground the Jets, 19-6


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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After playing two weeks of uninspiring football, the Chicago Bears returned to their dominant form in a 19-6 win over a talented and playoff-bound New York Jets squad.

The Bears entered the road game after playing two weeks of weak football, including a 38-24 loss to Miami and a 17-10 win over Indianapolis. On the heels of their first loss and facing an unimpressive Colts team, the close win over Indianapolis wasn’t surprising. But the Bears needed to get the band back together for the game against the Jets, who entered the contest at 10-4 and in a dead heat with Miami and New England for the top spot in the AFC East.

While the Bears’ ground game had continued to impress week in and week out, the passing game had gone dormant. It had been seven weeks since the Bears had thrown for more than 200 net passing yards, though some of that time had been spent with starting quarterback Jim McMahon on the sidelines with a shoulder injury.

McMahon returned late in the contest against Miami and started (and struggled) in the game against the Colts. The Bears would need him in the contest with the Jets, as New York was one of the top defenses against the run, finishing the season third against the run and second in yards allowed per carry. Even with Bears’ running back Walter Payton on a hot streak of nine straight 100-yard games, another one wouldn’t be enough. They needed the passing game to rebound.

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The Jets, meanwhile, were a team that had the capability to knock off the Bears. The run defense was stout while the pass defense was mediocre, but the Jets made up for it by collecting 49 sacks on the season, good for 11th best in the NFL. The defense was led by Mark Gastineau and Joe Klecko, a pair of Pro Bowl defensive linemen who combined for 21 sacks on the season. The Jets ended the season allowing the third-fewest points and eighth-fewest yards in the league.

Offensively, the Jets committed the fewest turnovers on the season with 29, including only eight interceptions, while quarterback and Pro Bowler Ken O’Brien completed 61 percent of his passes for 3,900 yards and 25 touchdowns. Running back Freeman McNeil ran for more than 1,300 yards, while fellow backs Johnny Hector and Tony Paige contributed to push the Jets to the seventh-best rushing attack in the league. The Jets finished the season gaining the fourth-most yards in the league and the seventh-most points scored.

The Jets entered the game winning three of their last four games, but that hot streak didn’t carry over.

The Bears scored first, with kicker Kevin Butler booting an 18-yard field goal in the first quarter. Jets kicker Pat Leahy responded with a 23-yarder, notching the game at three apiece.

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As the contest moved into the second quarter, the Bears took the lead when McMahon hit reserve tight end Tim Wrightman for a seven-yard score, pushing the margin to 10-3 at the half.

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The Jets would score first in the third quarter, with Leahy kicking a 55-yard field goal. The Bears’ defense drew the line there, with Richard Dent sacking O’Brien on consecutive possessions in Jets’ territory, forcing fumbles each time that were recovered by the Bears.

"“I went inside there. And I just got a good lick at the quarterback. You’ve got to give credit to our defensive backs, because they were doing a good job of coverage,” Dent told the Chicago Tribune’s Bob Verdi when discussing his first sack."

While the defense held the Jets, the Bears’ offense managed to do enough to build the lead. McMahon hit Payton for 65 yards on one pass, setting up another Butler field goal in the third quarter that pushed the lead to 13-6.

Butler would add two more field goals in the fourth quarter, finishing the scoring at 19-6.

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For the most part, the Bears had returned to the form displayed before losing to Miami. The defense was dominant while the offense was durable, controlling the ball for 39 minutes, giving the defense plenty of rest on the sidelines.

That ball control, though, didn’t result in many points or yards. McMahon mildly returned to form, completing less than 50 percent of his passes but throwing for 215 yards and one touchdown and interception. The pass protection continued to be a problem, allowing five sacks, and the run game struggled but still topped 100 yards on the day.

"“They were the best defense we’ve faced,” center Jay Hilgenberg told the Chicago Tribune’s Don Pierson. “We can do a lot better, though. They were just trying to stop No. 34 and have us beat them another way. Jim made some big plays.”"

The Bears ran for 116 yards, but needed 40 carries to do so, running for less than three yards per carry. Matt Suhey and Dennis Gentry each ran for more than 20 yards, while McMahon added 18. Payton’s amazing streak of nine straight 100-yard games came to a bruising end, as he ran for a paltry 53 yards on 28 carries, with a long gain of nine.

"“I felt like a punching bag out there today,” Payton told the Tribune’s Bernie Lincicome.“A lot of teams try to stop the run and then we burn them on the pass,” Payton said to Pierson. “I’m not disappointed at not getting 100. I’m just disappointed at the way we attacked them.”"

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The defense, meanwhile, played another game that could be considered their best effort of the season.

They held the Jets to 70 rushing yards – the Jets’ second lowest total of the season — on 23 attempts, and sacked O’Brien four times while forcing him into 12 of 26 passing for only 122 yards, good for a total net yards of 159. Dent notched two sacks, while Dan Hampton and Wilson each lodged one. Coupled with three recovered fumbles, it was another stellar game for the Bears.

The Bears were now 14-1, and had regained their form. They again looked like the devastating Monsters of the Midway after looking vulnerable the previous two weeks. The passing game looked to be back on track, and the defense was still terrifying and the running game reliable.

Up next was the final regular season game, a visit to Detroit, before the Bears enjoyed their bye week in the first round of the playoffs.

Next: Jeremiah Ratliff Suspended for Three Games

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