Cinderella and the 45 Bears
The 20th Super Bowl had the makings of one of the all-time David-and-Goliath stories. On one side were the Chicago Bears with a 15-1 regular season record and fresh off two post-season shutouts to win the NFC crown hands down, as just about everyone expected they would. The Bears, with their bone-crunching defense, unpredictable quarterback and ground-eating running game, were cast inevitably as Goliath. As David were the New England Patriots, a respectable 11-5 on the season but barely in the playoffs as the second wild-card team. After winning three road games against supposedly stronger opponents, the Patriots needed only a victory over the ferocious Bears to become the ultimate Cinderella team. But midnight struck early in the Louisiana Superdome. Goliath took away David's rocks and buried him in the most one-sided Super Bowl ever.
On the second play of the game, Chicago's Walter Payton fumbled, and the Patriots' Don Blackmon recovered on the Chicago 19. The Patriots had gotten to the Super Bowl by taking advantage of opponents' miscues. Three incomplete passes later, it was fourth-and-ten. Tony Franklin, New England's barefoot kicker, booted a 36-yard field goal to give the Patriots a 3-0 lead, their highpoint of the day.
As though shocked to have someone finally score against them, the Bears roared back. Jim McMahon's 43-yard pass to Willie Gault put them in New England territory, and Matt Suhey picked up another first down on two carries. When the Patriots stiffened, Kevin Butler tied the score at 3-3 with a 28-yard field goal.
New England suddenly developed fumble-itis. Super Bowl MVP Richard Dent sacked Tony Eason, who fumbled at the 13. Butler put the Bears in front with a successful 24-yard boot. As soon as the Patriots got the ball back, Craig James fumbled and Mike Singletary recovered, again at the 13. Two plays later, when Suhey burst 11 yards for a touchdown, the game was as good as over.
The Bears tacked on 10 more points in the second quarter. McMahon's two-yard run capped a 59-yard scoring drive to make it 20-3. Eason was 0 for 6 with his passes, and coach Raymond Berry sent in veteran Steve Grogan at quarterback. It didn't help. Chicago held the ball for 11 plays on a 72-yard drive before Butler kicked his third field goal, this one from 24 yards.
In piling up a 23-3 lead, the Bears had gained 236 total yards to the Patriots' minus-fourteen!
The second half was only slightly better statistically for the Patriots, who saw the score go to 44-3 before they finally crossed the Bear goalline. After a short drive at the opening of the third quarter, New England punted to the Bear four. On first down, McMahon trashed the Pats with a 60-yard bomb to Gault. From there, the Bears drove in, with McMahon sneaking over from the one. Three plays later, Chicago reserve cornerback Reggie Phillips stepped in front of a Grogan pass and ran it back 28 yards for another touchdown. Still another New England fumble gave the Bears the ball again. Chicago drove 30 yards to the Patriot 1-yard line. William "The Refrigerator" Perry had gained national notoriety by occasionally masquerading as a roly-poly fullback, and the Bears now satisfied his fans as he took the ball into the endzone on a one-yard smash.
In the final quarter, with the game more than lost, the Patriots put on their only sustained drive of the day against the Bears' second stringers: 76 yards to an eight-yard Grogan-to-Irving Fryar scoring pass. But the Bears had the last word. With four minutes left, Henry Waechter tackled Grogan behind the goalline for a safety.