Tuesday, November 2, 2010

1985 Bears Flashback: The Payton and Perry Show

     November 3, 1985. The Bears visit Lambeau Field in Green Bay, and the greatest rivalry in the NFL reaches a new low. In the first quarter, Packers cornerback Mark Lee runs Bears running back Walter Payton out of bounds and all the way over the bench; Lee is ejected. Several plays later, Matt Suhey is standing around the pile when Green Bay safety Ken Stills levels him long after the whistle. “I don’t mind that,” Packers coach Forrest Gregg claims. “That’s aggressive football.”
     “Tempers flare,” says Bears coach Mike Ditka. “You don’t like to see it, especially when they cheap-shot a guy like Payton, who has given more to the game than anyone.”
     The two teams jog to their locker rooms at halftime having combined for six unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties (four by the Packers). “There was something going on every play,” Bears safety Dave Duerson says. “Let’s face it, it wasn’t clean on either side.”
     It is left to the immortal Payton to raise the Bears up from the mire. His 27-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter gives them a 16-10 win. Payton gains 192 yards on 28 carries all told. Ditka calls Payton’s effort “maybe as good as I’ve seen a guy with a football under his arm play.” It is Walter’s 13th 100-yard game in 20 career outings against the Packers.
     The tremendous performance by perhaps the greatest player of all time is nearly overshadowed by the continuing saga of rookie William “Refrigerator” Perry, who scores the Bears’ first touchdown. Ditka has turned the jolly 310-pound defensive tackle into a part-time offensive player, just for fun. Perry first lined up at fullback on October 16 at San Francisco and carried twice for four yards. On October 21, he scored his first rushing touchdown against Green Bay at Soldier Field. This time, Perry lines up at tight end, goes in motion, and catches a four-yard TD pass from quarterback Jim McMahon. “I had to keep a straight face when I got to the line,” he remarks with a chuckle.
     “They [the Packers] saw him coming and they got out of the way,” Payton says. The Payton and Perry Show makes the Bears a perfect 9-0 for the season.

Adapted from Heydays: Great Stories in Chicago Sports
(c)2009, 2010 by Christopher Tabbert

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