1985 Chicago Bears: The Greatest Team Ever

Matt ReaganCorrespondent IMarch 10, 2009

Ronald Reagan was president, Tina Turner's What's Love Got To Do With It was the song of the year, a gallon of gas cost $1.20, and the Chicago Bears were the greatest team to ever take the field in the storied history of the NFL.

I know the doubters are going to say, "What about the 1972 Dolphins? They were the only team to ever finish the season undefeated."

I understand this, but the 1985 Bears were simply the greatest team ever, and here's why.

The collection of players Chicago put together not just on defense, but also offense, made them one of the most talented teams ever assembled.

The Bears steam-rolled their way through the regular season with a 15-1 record. But what most people don't remember is the season started off a little shaky.

Chicago actually found themselves trailing, of all teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17-28 at halftime of their first game of the season. After a tongue lashing by coach Mike Ditka, Chicago responded with an inspired second half in which the offense came alive and the infamous 4-6 defense was born.

Tampa would not score another point, and the Bears offense, led by RB Walter Payton, won the first game of the season, 38-28.

It was on this sunny day in Florida that a championship team was born.

The '85 Bears were led on offense by a "punky QB" from BYU named Jim McMahon. Jim would ascend to cult status as he guided the team, who seemingly "never has a franchise QB," to the greatest season ever. McMahon would end up going 11-0 as a starter that year as he split some starts with fellow QB Steve Fuller.

But RB Walter Payton was the gas that fueled the offensive car.

Payton had a huge season, rushing for 1,551 yards and nine touchdowns while also leading the team in receiving with 49 catches for 483 yards and another two scores.

Following closely behind bruising FB Matt Suhey, Payton enjoyed one of his finest seasons in the league and was voted NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

The Bears also had a pair of dynamic WRs in Dennis McKinnon and the track star Willie Gault. Gault led the team in receiving with 704 yards and McKinnon was tops in touchdowns with seven.

Chicago also had WR/KR Dennis Gentry, who ended up leading the NFL in kickoff returns with an average of 25.9 yards.

Now let's take a look at the '85 Bears' vaunted 4-6 defense.

Chicago's defense was coached by Buddy Ryan, who was also the creator of the 4-6.

But the defense was led by MLB Mike Singletary, who was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Mike was the heart and soul of the greatest defense ever assembled and finished the season as the Bears' leading tackler.

He formed the centerpiece in the Bears linebacker corps, with Wilbur Marshall and Otis Wilson manning the outsides. Wilson finished with 10.5 sacks and Marshall recorded six, but it was the Bears defensive line that did the most damage rushing the QB.

DE Richard Dent led the NFL with 17 sacks and would be named Super Bowl XX MVP. Dan Hampton, who played opposite him, recorded 6.5. The interior of the line was anchored by the 350-pound William "The Refrigerator" Perry, who tallied five sacks in his rookie year, and fellow DT Steve McMichael, who sacked opposing QBs eight times.

That's a total of 26.5 sacks for the starting defensive line alone in 1985.

The Chicago secondary was led by SS Dave Duerson and CB Leslie Frazier. Hard-hitting Gary Fencik manned the FS spot and Mike Richardson played the other corner.

The starting secondary would combine for an astounding 20 interceptions.

All together, the Bears would place five players from their defense in the Pro Bowl.

Singletary, Dent, and McMichael would also be named first-team All-Pros.

After finishing the regular season 15-1, with their sole loss to the Dolphins in Miami on Monday Night Football, 24-38, the Bears would go on to outscore their opponents 91-10 en route to winning Super Bowl XX over the New England Patriots.

They destroyed the Pats 46-10, with the only 10 points they would give up in the entire playoffs coming as a gift from the Bears' second string defense. At the time, the 36-point win was the largest in Super Bowl history.

Chicago finished with an 18-1 overall record and allowed only five of the teams they faced that year to score more than 10 points in a game.

They had the greatest running back in NFL history, Walter Payton, the '85 Offensive Player of the Year.

They had the best middle linebacker in NFL history and 10-time Pro Bowl player Mike Singletary, the '85 Defensive Player of the Year.

And they even had the 1985 Coach of the Year, Mike Ditka.

But, most importantly, they had the greatest team in the history of the NFL. They were the 1985 Chicago Bears.

R.I.P. Sweetness. Although you wore No. 34 on the field, you will always be No. 1 in Bears fans' hearts!


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