#TBT: 1985 Chicago Bears blast Rams for NFC Championship


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.

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In a game dominated by defense, the Chicago Bears emerged victorious over the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game by a 24-0 margin, making the Bears the first team to shutout back-to-back opponents in the postseason.

The Bears came into the game 10.5 point favorites, but there was reason for concern. The Rams (11-5, NFC West champs) also had one of the best and most complete defenses in the league, finishing fourth against the run, 10th against the pass and fifth in total yards allowed and fourth in points allowed. The Rams offense was nothing complicated; they finished last in passing yards, but had Eric Dickerson, one year removed from running for 2,105 yards in the 1984 season.

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One week before playing the Bears, Dickerson had run for 248 yards in a 20-0 Rams win over the Cowboys. In a 1984 matchup, Dickerson ripped the Bears for 149 yards and a pair of touchdowns. A whole of Dickerson could spell trouble for the Bears.

But both teams found out early that the Rams would have to find a different way to move the ball if they wanted to get past the Bears, as the defense repeatedly stuffed Dickerson at the line.

“I can tell by looking in their eyes whether they want to play or not. I knew they weren’t really sure they wanted to be in Chicago playing us. It’s not their fault,” Dan Hampton said to the Chicago Tribune’s Don Pierson.

The Bears put the Rams in a difficult spot almost immediately. The Rams went three-and-out – three Dickerson runs netting only six yards – and a punt into the swirling winds set the Bears up at their own 44. Passes to tight end Emery Moorehead and Willie Gault moved the Bears to the Rams 17. After Walter Payton fumbled a draw (tackle Jim Covert recovered) and a short Matt Suhey run, the Bears faced a third-and-10.

Quarterback Jim McMahon dropped back, but quickly took off upfield, where a block by Dennis Gentry sprung McMahon into the endzone for an early 7-0 lead.

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The playlist repeated itself on the next possession, as the Rams again went three-and-out, and another short punt set the Bears up at the Rams’ 49. The Bears picked up two first downs before Kevin Butler kicked a 34-yard field goal, giving the Bears a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.

The rest of the first half was a defensive struggle, as the Rams’ defense found its footing. Payton was held in check all day, and Suhey wasn’t much more effective. Once the Bears stopped being set up with favorable field position, their offense struggled.

The Rams, though, fared no better. On seven first-half possessions, the Rams went three-and-out five times, and picked up a total of three first downs. The Bears’ pass rush wasn’t getting to Rams quarterback Dieter Brock yet, but Brock, playing in his only season in the NFL, went five of 16 for 35 yards in the first half.

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The Rams finally caught a break late in the first half, with about one minute remaining.

Punting from their own 41, the Rams recovered a fumble after the punt deflected off reserve Bears cornerback Reggie Phillips.

Starting at the Bears’ 21 with 1:04 left in the first half and one timeout, the Rams displayed some of the worst clock management imaginable and squandered what turned out to be their only scoring opportunity.

Dickerson ran for four yards on the first play, and five on the second. On neither play did he run out of bounds, and after each play the Rams huddled. By the time Brock took the snap on 3rd-and-one, there was approximately eight seconds left in the quarter. Brock dropped back and held the ball for several seconds before hitting Dickerson on a short pattern. Dickerson picked up seven yards and a first down, but time expired as he was tackled, leaving the Rams unable to try for a field goal.

The Rams never had a better chance to score in the second half, even as their defense held the Bears in check.

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On the first Rams possession of the third quarter, Dickerson fumbled for the second time, with cornerback Mike Richardson recovering at the Bears’ 48.

The Bears picked up a first down on a pass to Gault, then converted a fourth down on a 13-yard pass to Payton. Two plays later, McMahon hit Gault for a 22-yard touchdown and a 17-0 lead .

The Bears would not even gain a first down for the rest of the game, but it didn’t matter.

The teams traded punts and three-and-outs for the rest of the third quarter and into the fourth, before the Rams started a possession at the Chicago 47 late in the fourth quarter. On a third-and-long, Richard Dent sacked Brock, forcing a fumble that Wilber Marshall returned 52 yards for the final touchdown.

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The Rams would pick up a few garbage time first downs, but the final result was never in doubt.

The Bears offense did nothing spectacular in the game, as the Rams defense bent only when put in difficult positions by their offense or special teams. The Bears gained only 13 first downs, and ran for 91 yards on 33 carries, fewer than three yards per attempt. McMahon was efficient, going 16 of 25 for 164 yards and a touchdown, but was also sacked three times.

It was the Bears defense that left a mark on the game, just as they had the week before against the Giants. The Rams gained only nine first downs, and had only 86 rushing yards on 26 carries, and 24 yards came on the Rams’ final possession after the Bears pulled most of their starters. Dickerson had 46 yards on 17 carries, along with two fumbles.

Brock, meanwhile, was harassed into 10 completions on 31 attempts for 66 yards, an interception and a fumble. He was also sacked three times, with Dent, William Perry and Dan Hampton doing the honors.

“We never got our running established. We’d run, run, throw, throw, throw, throw, throw, run, run. We’re the type of team that has to run and run and keep running and keep running and keep running. Instead, we were picking and grabbing at things,” Dickerson said to the Tribune’s Phil Hersh.

Brock told the Tribune’s Fred Mitchell that he believed the wind effected the Ram’ passing game, but admitted the biggest problem with the Rams offense was the Bears’ defense.

“But basically, the Bears just stomped us. They didn’t confuse us. They didn’t confuse us with anything we didn’t see in the films. They just did a good job on defense. I would have to say the Bears are the best defense I’ve faced all year and the best I’ve faced in my career,” said Brock.

The Bears defense had dominated both games so far in the playoffs, and a possible rematch loomed with Miami, the only team to beat Chicago in the regular season.

The Bears, though, would not get their chance at revenge. Playing at home against New England, the Dolphins committed six turnovers and allowed 255 rushing yards, falling to the Patriots 31-14.

The Bears, then, would be playing New England in Super Bowl XX in New Orleans, a team they already defeated 20-7 in Week 2 of the 1985 season.

Next: Bears Ground Game Shines In Loss to Packers

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