Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff: 34 Days with Walter Payton

Chicago Bears
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Chicago Bears, Walter Payton
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Walter Payton helps Chicago Bears win first Super Bowl

After finishing the regular season with a 15-1 record, the Bears cake-walked through the NFC side of the playoff bracket and found themself facing the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. In what would become one of the biggest Super Bowl blowouts in NFL history, Payton, unfortunately, had an underwhelming performance and managed only 61 yards on 22 touches.

The Bears as a unit scored four rushing touchdowns en route to scoring 46 total points, two of which came from Jim McMahon, one from running back Matt Shuey, and the final from rookie defensive tackle William Perry, who had been used as an unstoppable goal line force throughout the regular and postseason.

There has been a lot said, both by coaches and players, about Payton's scoreless outing during the Super Bowl, and while some have said that the Chicago Bears' staff essentially had a duty to reward their best player for over a decade, the sentiment that it is tough to complain after winning a league championship is also partially true. In the end, it left a mark on Payton, who was sheepish with the media immediately following the game.

After the championship season, the writing was on the wall that Payton was perhaps in the final years of his career. Therefore, the team decided to add Sweetness's successor in Neal Anderson with their first pick in the 1986 draft. In the first year, Payton remained the full-time starter and logged an impressive season with over 1,700 total yards and 11 interceptions.

The following year, Payton played in only 12 games due to injury, and he split the majority of carriers with Anderson. Despite finishing the year with over 500 rushing yards, it marked the first time since 1974 that anybody besides Payton led the team on the ground.