As Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Jackson and Gridiron Show guest Ha Ha Clinton-Dix gear up for the #NFL100 opener, we look back at the Bears D they have to live up to…
The 1985 Chicago Bears were nearly perfect – ironically, their only defeat in a 15-1 season that led to Super Bowl XX glory came at the hands of the NFL’s only unbeaten franchise, the Dolphins – and a large part of that success can be attributed to the defense.
Although the Jim McMahon/Walter Payton-led offense put up points at will, the number one-ranked defense allowed only 198 points in the regular season, at an average of just 12.4 points per game, for a scoring differential that, at +258, was 110 more than the next best team. The D – known as the ‘46 Defense’ in deference to former safety Doug Plank – also led the league in turnover differential at +23, and claimed four shutouts, two in the regular season and back-to-back blanks over the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams in the playoffs.
Under architect Buddy Ryan, the defense came at you from all angles and wasn’t afraid to hit – hard. Wilbur Marshall’s hit on Joe Ferguson left the Detroit Lions quarterback unconscious, and the entire defense stymied the Patriots so much in Super Bowl XX that neither Tony Eason or Steve Grogan proved effective.
In their victory over New England, which led to the Bears’ first Lombardi Trophy, the defense set or tied Super Bowl records for sacks, fewest rushing yards allowed and margin of victory. The Patriots finished with just 123 total yards from scrimmage, and only seven on the ground – a number equal to the total of sacks they gave up in the game! Bears defensive end Richard Dent, who had 1.5 quarterback sacks, forced two fumbles and blocked a pass, was named the game’s MVP and would later be voted into the Hall of Fame, where he joined team-mates Mike Singletary, Dan Hampton and Walter Payton, as well as coach Mike Ditka.
46 Defense by the numbers
46 Number worn by former safety Doug Plank, after whom the defense was named
51 Age of defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, who created the scheme
15-1 Bears record en route to Super Bowl XX successful
198 Points allowed during the 1985 NFL regular season
12.4 Points allowed per game during the 1985 NFL regular season
+258 Points differential of the 1985 Bears
110 Difference in points differential to next best team
+23 Turnover differential of the 1985 Bears
4 Number of shutouts achieved, including two back-to-back in the playoffs
36 Then record margin of victory in a Super Bowl
7 Number of sacks registered in Super Bowl XX
7 Also the number of rushing yards allowed in Super Bowl XX
123 Total offense (in yards) allowed in Super Bowl XX
1.5/2 Number of sacks and forced fumbles recorded by Super Bowl XX MVP Richard Dent
3 Members of the 46 Defense in the Hall of Fame (Richard Dent, Dan Hampton, Mike Singletary)
This article originally appeared in Issue XLVII of Gridiron magazine – for individual editions or subscriptions, click HERE