The 1985 Bears captivated the nation with a collection of characters who dominated opponents and brought fun back to pro football.
That was never more evident than in their 46-10 thrashing of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX at the Louisiana Superdome, a monumental victory that occurred 32 years ago Friday.
The relentless Bears defense battered the overmatched AFC champions, yielding just seven yards rushing, registering seven sacks and scoring on an interception return and a safety.
"I tried to scramble, but there was no place to go," said Patriots quarterback Tony Eason. "They played an almost perfect game."
It didn't start out that way for the Bears. Walter Payton fumbled on the second play from scrimmage and the Patriots recovered at the Chicago 19. After three incompletions, Tony Franklin's 36-yard field goal gave New England a 3-0 lead.
The Bears responded by scoring 44 unanswered points to set a record for the most lopsided victory in Super Bowl history.
The Patriots gained positive yards on just one of their first 15 plays. Eason was yanked in favor of veteran Steve Grogan after going 0 of 6 with three sacks. In the first half, New England had one first down, minus-five yards rushing and minus-14 yards passing.
"I'm not embarrassed," Patriots guard Ron Wooten said after the game. "I'm humiliated."
After Kevin Butler's 28-yard field goal tied the score 3-3, Richard Dent forced fumbles on consecutive possessions that Dan Hampton and Mike Singletary recovered, both at the New England 13.
The Bears converted the turnovers into Butler's 24-yard field goal and Matt Suhey's 11-yard touchdown run to take a 13-3 lead.
Jim McMahon's 24-yard pass to Suhey set up McMahon's 2-yard TD run that gave the Bears a 20-3 second-quarter lead. At that point, the Patriots still hadn't produced a first down. Butler's 25-yard field goal on the final play of the half made it 23-3.
The onslaught continued in the second half. After McMahon's 1-yard TD dive made it 30-3, Reggie Phillips returned an interception 28 yards for a score and William "Refrigerator" Perry thundered in from the 1 to widen the margin to 44-3.
At that point, NBC play-by-play announcer Dick Enberg said, 'If it was a prizefight, they'd have to stop it."
After a New England touchdown, Henry Waechter sacked Grogan in the end zone for a safety and the game's final points.
The Bears returned home as NFL champions for the first time since 1963.
"This is special," said coach Mike Ditka. "We made history today. That's beautiful."
An all-time television record 127 million viewers tuned in to watch the Bears inflict carnage on the overmatched Patriots, some of whom had complained they weren't getting the proper respect in the days leading up to the game.
"They thought we felt superior to them," Bears safety Gary Fencik said after the blowout victory. "I guess now they know why we had reason to believe it."
BEARS BRING IT HOME - Jan. 26, 1986: Bears 46, New England 10. In the end, their bite was even better than their bark. In New Orleans, the place that invented jazz, the fat lady sang early, before halftime.
FUN FACTS ABOUT '85 BEARS While there's been an abundance of coverage of the famed 1985 Bears over the years, here are 20 fun facts you may not know:
I: Guard Tom Thayer played in 37 regular-season and postseason pro football games in a 12-month span, joining the Bears in June 1985 after spending the spring playing in the USFL with the Arizona Outlaws. After Arizona's last game, Thayer drove from Phoenix to Platteville, Wis., to begin training camp with the Bears.
II: The Bears spent three days during the first of two weeks between the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl practicing indoors at the University of Illinois in Champaign.
III: The Bears taped "The Super Bowl Shuffle" at the Park West in Chicago on Tuesday, Dec. 3, hours after landing in Chicago following their only loss of the season, a 38-24 defeat on Monday Night Football in Miami. Walter Payton and Jim McMahon taped their portions later via a green screen in a racquetball court at Halas Hall. "The Super Bowl Shuffle" sold more than half a million copies and was nominated for a Grammy Award.
IV: The Bears opened the season 12-0, but they were nearly 0-1. They trailed the Buccaneers 28-17 at halftime of their season opener at Soldier Field before rallying for a 38-28 victory. Early in the second half, Leslie Frazier intercepted a pass that was deflected by Richard Dent and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown to fuel the comeback.
V: After William Perry rushed for two touchdowns and caught a TD pass during the regular season, the Bears gave the Fridge a chance to throw a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl. On second-and-goal from the 5 late in the first quarter, Perry took a handoff from Jim McMahon and rolled to his right. But seeing that tight end Emery Moorehead was well covered in the end zone, Perry wisely pulled down the ball and was tackled for a one-yard loss.
VI: Running back Tony Collins led the Patriots in rushing in Super Bowl XX with four yards on three carries. The Bears held New England to seven yards on the ground, a Super Bowl record that still stands.
VII: Tony Eason became the first starting quarterback in Super Bowl history who didn't complete a pass. He was replaced by veteran Steve Grogan after going 0-of-6 with three sacks.
VIII: The '85 Bears sent a franchise-record nine players to the Pro Bowl in Jimbo Covert, Richard Dent, Dave Duerson, Dan Hampton, Jay Hilgenberg, Jim McMahon, Walter Payton, Mike Singletary and Otis Wilson. Because they flew directly from New Orleans to Hawaii, the Bears' Pro Bowlers were unable to participate in the team's championship parade in Chicago.
IX: Three members of the 1985 Bears defense became NFL head coaches: Linebackers Ron Rivera and Mike Singletary and cornerback Leslie Frazier. The total increases to four if you count Jeff Fisher, who spent the '85 season as a pseudo assistant under defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan while on injured reserve.
X: In Super Bowl XX, the Patriots gained positive yards on only one of their first 16 plays, a 3-yard run by Craig James. The 15 plays that failed to produce positive yards consisted of three sacks, seven incomplete passes and five runs for zero or negative yards.
XI: Four members of the 1985 Bears later played for the arch rival Green Bay Packers: Quarterbacks Jim McMahon (1995-96) and Mike Tomczak (1991), defensive tackle Steve McMichael (1994) and linebacker Jim Morrissey (1993). McMahon won a Super Bowl ring with Green Bay in 1996 as Brett Favre's backup but wore his Bears jersey to the White House when the Packers were honored by President Bill Clinton.
XII: Seven starters on the 1985 Super Bowl championship team were selected by the Bears in the 1983 NFL Draft: Tackle Jimbo Covert and receiver Willie Gault in the first round, cornerback Mike Richardson in the second, safety Dave Duerson in the third, guard Tom Thayer in the fourth, and defensive end Richard Dent and guard Mark Bortz in the eighth.
XIII: The Patriots took the quickest lead in Super Bowl history on Tony Franklin's 36-yard field goal with just 1:19 elapsed. The kick came after New England had recovered a Walter Payton fumble on the second play of the game. Ironically, the Bears broke the record 21 years later when Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI for a touchdown.
XIV: Coordinator Buddy Ryan named his famous "46" defense after the jersey number worn by hard-hitting safety Doug Plank. But Plank's eight-year career with the Bears ended in 1982 and no member of the 1985 championship team wore No. 46.
XV: Cornerback Leslie Frazier was just entering his prime in 1985, when the 26-year-old led the Bears with six interceptions. But Super Bowl XX would be the last game of Frazier's career; he blew out his left knee after taking a handoff from Keith Ortego on a punt return late in the second quarter. As defensive backs coach with the Colts in 2006, Frazier won a second ring when Indianapolis defeated the Bears in Super Bowl XLI.
XVI: During a media session a few days before the Super Bowl, William Perry told reporters that he had declined an offer to star in a movie with singer Cyndi Lauper. The script called for Lauper to play a wrestler and the Fridge to be her bodyguard.
XVII: While the Patriots had a nightly curfew in New Orleans, Bears players didn't have to be in their hotel rooms by a certain time until the night before the Super Bowl. "We intend to party a bit," defensive lineman Dan Hampton said upon arriving in town. "That's part of the reward of getting here. We're going to come down here, have fun and try to win a football game."
XVIII: Bears defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan had already won a Super Bowl ring 16 years earlier as defensive line coach with the New York Jets, who shocked the heavily-favored Baltimore Colts behind brash quarterback "Broadway" Joe Namath in Super Bowl III.
XIX: The '85 Bears were so popular that the team's offensive line and key reserves had their own posters entitled "The Black and Blues Brothers" and "Second to None," respectively.
XX: Determined to get into the game, Bears third-string quarterback Mike Tomczak convinced coaches to let him cover a kickoff late in the contest—and he promptly drew a 15-yard facemask penalty.