Super Bowl XX: 25 Years Later
We spent the morning and a substantial portion of the afternoon at my grandparents' house that Sunday. On a normal visit, I would be playing games or attempting to play music on their tiny Casio keyboard. But that day, I was glued to the television. Their television didn't have a remote control, or zapper as they used to call it, so I spent the day kneeling in front of the screen manually cranking the dial. Station after station had complete Bears coverage. Mike Ditka was interviewed on this station, Payton over there, and McMahon was somewhere else. I even had someone's 45 of the Super Bowl Shuffle in heavy rotation on their ancient turntable.
That was Sunday, January 26, 1986.
The Chicago Bears concluded the 1985 regular season with a 15-1 record. Their lone loss came to the Miami Dolphins on a Monday night in south Florida. They proceeded to storm through the playoffs unblemished. They did so without allowing a single point. They shutout the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams. Their final step was to line up against the AFC Champions, the New England Patriots, in Super Bowl XX.
At the time, I was a seventh grader. Up until that point, none of the five major Chicago sports teams competed in a championship game or series during my lifetime. The Blackhawks lost in the 1973 Stanley Cup Finals to the Montreal Canadiens a few months before I was born. The White Sox made the playoffs in 1983 and lost to the Baltimore Orioles, and the Cubs met a similar fate against the San Diego Padres in the 1984 NLCS. The Bears managed to reach the NFC Championship Game during the 1984 season, but they were blanked by the San Francisco 49ers.
I told my parents that I wanted to make sure we were home in time to watch the entire game. On the drive home, we heard the national anthem and the start of the game coverage. My Dad said we would only miss the first few minutes. What could happen in the first few minutes of a football game, right? The Patriots kicked off and the Bears received. On the second play of the game, Jim McMahon handed the ball to Walter Payton, he fumbled and the Patriots recovered. The Patriots threw three incomplete passes, then they kicked a field goal. New England grabbed an early 3-0 lead. We pulled into the garage and the Bears were losing barely one minute into the game. Not exactly how I wanted to start watching the game.
About two weeks before the Super Bowl, we bought a new television. It was a 44" Mitsubishi big screen, and I loved it. Super Bowl XX was the first major sporting event that I would watch on that television. When I stepped into the house, I sprinted for the couch, found the remote and flipped on NBC. There they were. The Chicago Bears were in the Super Bowl. Sadly, they were already losing.
But something happened. The Bears began to dominate.
Kevin Butler kicked a field goal to tie the game 3-3. Then again to make it 6-3. The Bears would never trail again. Matt Suhey scored, and once again, Butler added the extra point. The first quarter ended with the Bears leading 13-3.
In the second quarter, the Bears continued to roll. Jim McMahon scored and Butler kicked again to make the score 20-3. Butler added one more field goal before the half. At halftime, the Bears led the Patriots 23-3.
Insert your favorite Up With People joke here. They performed at halftime.
As the game continued into the third quarter, so did the Bears scoring. McMahon scored again with a PAT from Butler to make it a 30-3 game. Reggie Phillips scored on a pick-six. With another PAT, the Bears led 37-3. William Perry scored and a Butler kick extended the lead to 44-3. To this day, Mike Ditka still regrets not giving Walter Payton the ball on that play.
During the fourth quarter, the New England Patriots found a bit of offense. Irving Fryar caught a TD pass, they added a kick and made it a 44-10 game. The Bears ended the scoring by adding a safety to make the final 46-10.
Looking back, I'm surprised I didn't break my parents' couch. I jumped up and down on that thing all night long. With each score, I grew louder and louder. Following that game, my Mom bought me a Super Bowl XX mug. I placed it on the desk in my bedroom to hold pencils and pens. I promised I would retire that mug when the Bears won the Super Bowl again. Sadly, that was the last Super Bowl the Bears won. That mug travelled with me to college, and every professional office I've worked in since. That mug sits on my desk today, just to the right of my monitor. The closest that mug came to retirement was when they made an appearance in Super Bowl XLI, but fell victim to the Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
If you have a few moments, here's a video of game highlights.