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Four Bears in running for greatest NFL play of all time

Posted Mar 19, 2013

The Bears are well-represented in NFL.com's second annual "Bracketology," in which fans are being asked to vote for the greatest play in NFL history among a field of 64 entries.

The Bears are well-represented in NFL.com's second annual "Bracketology," in which fans are being asked to vote for the greatest play in NFL history among a field of 64 entries.

Four plays involving the Bears are included: 1) Bill Osmanski's 68-yard touchdown run in the 1940 NFL Championship Game; 2) Gale Sayers' 85-yard punt return TD in a 1965 win over the 49ers; 3) Walter Payton breaking six tackles on an 18-yard run in a 1977 victory over the Chiefs; and Wilber Marshall returning a fumble 52 yards for a TD in the 1985 NFC title game.

Walter Payton rushed for 16,726 yards during 13 illustrious seasons with the Bears, an NFL record that has since been broken by Emmitt Smith.
Osmanski's TD run in the first minute of the 1940 NFL Championship Game set the tone as the Bears thrashed the Redskins 73-0. Osmanski raced around left end, dashed down the sideline and benefitted from a devastating block by George Wilson, who wiped out the last two defenders.

In winning their first of four titles in a seven-year span, the "Monsters of the Midway" set NFL records that still stand 73 years later for most points in a game and largest margin of victory.

Sayers' 85-yard punt return enabled the electrifying rookie to tie an NFL record with his sixth touchdown of the game in a rout of the 49ers on a muddy surface at Wrigley Field.

Sayers capped one of the most impressive individual performances in league history by making a spectacular cutback move and sprinting into the end zone. Earlier in the game he had scored touchdowns on an 80-yard screen pass and runs of 21, 7, 50 and 1 yards.

Payton had many longer runs than his 18-yarder against the Chiefs. But none better represented his power and determination than the one that helped spark the Bears to a crucial 28-27 comeback win.

On a sweep to the right, Payton spun away from one tackle and eluded three others before bowling over two more defenders before being dragged down from behind at the Kansas City 4-yard line. The Chiefs led 17-0 at the time, but Payton rushed for three second-half TDs to rally the Bears.

The victory over the Chiefs was the first of six straight to close the season as the Bears finished 9-5 and earned their first playoff berth since winning the NFL championship in 1963.

Marshall's fumble return TD in the fourth quarter of the Bears' 24-0 win over the Rams in the 1985 NFC title game provided the perfect exclamation point for an enthused crowd at Soldier Field.

With snow beginning to fall, Richard Dent sacked quarterback Dieter Brock, forcing a fumble. Marshall scooped up the ball and was escorted to the end zone by William Perry.

NFL.com's "Bracketology" will have six different rounds of voting. The play with the most votes in its bracket match-up at the end of each round will advance to the next round.

Fans can vote on the round of 64 through Friday at NFL.com. The championship round will conclude on Monday, April 8, when the greatest play in NFL history will be crowned.

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