No matter what happens, the ’85 Bears will never actually go away. We’ll never stop hearing about them. “We get it already,” said Pro and now Collegiate Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson during our in-depth exclusive conversation.
It’s kind of understandable, given the state of the Chicago Bears franchise these days. In the 36 years since they won Super Bowl XX, they have only been back to the big game once, the NFC title game twice and they haven’t claimed another championship.
Currently sputtering through yet another losing season, they’re sporting a 4-8 record, and head to Green Bay as 12.5 point underdogs on Sunday night. Regarding that game, more can be found here but if you’ve been paying attention to that so-called “rivalry,” then you already know what to expect from Chicago when they play the Packers at Lambeau Field.
The Bears are +475 on the money line, with a game over/under of 43.5.
No wonder this city, as a collective treats the ’85 Bears like Al Bundy fancies his Polk High School football days. Our exclusive with Dickerson began with a whole lot of laughter, as we discussed how Chicago will just never let go of this team.
I mentioned that even if the 2006 NFC champion team had somehow upset Indianapolis in Miami, in Super Bowl XLI, the 1985 edition would still come first.
“Oh they would, no doubt, because that team was so dominant, and the things they did- the Super Bowl Shuffle,” Dickerson said.
“Even if they won this year ‘but the ’85 Bears….’most definitely.” (much more laughter ensued).
Arguably the most accomplished and high profile L.A. Ram of all time, Dickerson’s side lost 24-0 to the ’85 Shufflin’ Crew at Soldier Field in that season’s conference title game.
“It was tough, we were a running football team, but I always tell my friend (Bears DE and Super Bowl XX MVP) Richard Dent, I would have liked to have seen us have a quarterback and see how that would have worked out.”
It was a match-up of two teams who recorded boastful rap music videos as a team in the 1980s. A lot of NFL teams recorded these songs, but “Ram It” stands out due to its politically incorrect and overt sexual innuendo while the “Super Bowl Shuffle” is considered the first and most notable video of this genre.
While almost everybody feared the ’85 Bears, Dickerson said the Rams did not.
“We were one of the few teams that weren’t afraid of them, us and the Redskins because we had the big offensive linemen and big tight ends that could block them,” he said.
“But if you don’t have the quarterback in place, you’re gonna get swallowed up and that’s what happened to us, we couldn’t move the ball. We had a receiver open twice, once he (Rams QB Brock Dieter) threw it behind him, and the other time, he overthrew him.
“And you just can’t squander the opportunities against that defense.”
The Bears were in control the whole time, as the 24 point shutout conveys, but the final box score doesn’t really tell the story.
The two teams combined for a whopping 21 punts but only 367 yards of total offense. Chicago’s total yardage advantage over L.A. was less than 100, with the two teams even on rushing yards with 91.
On this unseasonably warm, but exceedingly windy day, the Bears at least had some semblance of a passing game, while Los Angeles had none at all.
In a match-up of two dominant defenses, Chicago was the stronger, as they limited the Rams to just 2.1 yards per offensive play.
Chicago’s offense averaged more than triple that, at 6.6 yards per play.
“We had a good defense too, just not as well known as the Bears,” Dickerson said of that meeting on Jan. 12, 1986, which saw snow flurries develop in the fourth quarter.
A key turning point was an early 3rd-and-short situation, which saw Dickerson get smacked and dropped back behind the line of scrimmage. He thought he was concussed on Mike Singletary’s hit
Dent would later tell Dickerson the story of how his unit knew what was coming because they saw the Rams HB go in motion before the snap.
Dent’s assignment in this defensive call was to cade in the up back so that Singletary could take a direct shot at Dickerson.
“He hit me on, I think it was a third and 1,” said Dickerson.
“And he came blitzing up the middle and we just POW! stuck together, and sent me back. I’ll never forget that.
“When I got up I saw two rainbows crossing stars.”
When Dickerson got back to the sideline, the team medical staff asked him if he was okay. They asked him his name, where he was and who they were playing. He answered all three questions correctly. Then they asked him his birthday and he said “I have no idea.”
Here is the link to that NFC Championship Game. Singletary’s stop came in the first quarter at the 23:52 mark in the video YouTube video.
That was as close to the Super Bowl as Dickerson ever came. He joined the Colts midway through the 1987 season, and he helped lead the team to their first playoff bid since they moved to Indianapolis, with an AFC East title. They lost to the best team that the Cleveland Browns have had in modern times in the Divisional Playoff.
The first Monday Night Football game in Indy, which came on Halloween 1988 versus the Denver Broncos, was epic for Dickerson as he rushed for 159 yards and four touchdowns.
Dickerson still holds two prominent NFL rushing records, one of which could be broken, and another that most likely never will be.
A couple of players have come awfully close to breaking his single season rushing yards record, but with the NFL being a more passing-oriented league these days, one wonders if it really could get eclipsed.
His rookie season rushing record is likely very safe, because it’s very hard to imagine any NFL team building their offense around a first year player these days.
“Some of those records will stand the test of time,” he said.
“The one that I think will last the longest is my rookie rushing record- 1808 yards, 20 touchdowns. The great thing about that record is you get one shot at it, you can only be a rookie one time and most teams don’t build an offense around a rookie.
“I’m not saying the Rams planned on building around me, it just kind of happened and we got off to a hot start.”
That was 1983, then in 1984 came the 2000+ yard season, as he began cementing his NFL legacy.
He finished his career with six Pro Bowls and five All-Pro nods.
“Guys have gotten really close, but it’s tough because everything has got to go perfect,” Dickerson said of his single season rushing record.
“Can’t get hurt- I was hurt too, but I had the kind of injury I could play through it, you can’t fall behind too early because if you do, you’re passing the football and you have to have some big games, 100+ back to back and then do it again.
“Even to get 2,000, let alone 2,105. And (the opposing) defense takes it personal- I always tell people those are professionals on the other side of the ball.”
He’s right, and that’s what makes this game, this league and this sport so competitive.
Eric Dickerson Exclusive
Part 3: Facing the ’85 Bears, and why that team will never ever go away
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”