Thirty years ago today, the 12-0 Chicago Bears went to the Orange Bowl to play the Miami Dolphins in what turned out to be the most watched regular season game in the history of the NFL.
Recently, I discovered that someone posted to YouTube the entire broadcast of the game including only a few commercials (Miller Lite golf one and one featuring William “the refrigerator” Perry). There were a couple of things I knew about the game and a couple that I discovered upon watching the broadcast like the announcers were Frank Gifford, Joe Namath and O.J. Simpson. I know O.J. was in that booth but forgot about Broadway Joe.
The most surprising thing to me was not that Bears QB Steve Fuller was starting his fifth game of the year for the often injured Jim McMahon but in his previous four starts including games which the Bears won 44-0 and 36-0 that he had not at that time thrown a touchdown pass in 1985.
I correctly remembered that in the Bears first two possessions they did not in any of the 8 plays give the ball to Walter Payton who still was an elite player who in that game broke an NFL record by getting over 100 yards of rushing for the 8th straight game but they were only down 10-7 when they first gave Payton the ball on a possession where later a screen pass to him was intercepted.
I did not realize that the Bears tried to cover the Dolphins third wide receiver Nat Moore with either safety Gary Fencik or Dave Duerson (who by diving head first into a pile made me cringe knowing that he killed himself and was discovered with concussion based brain trauma).
I remembered that the Dolphins scored on 2 one yard runs and that their only points of the second half after being up 31-10 at halftime were on a pass that bounced off Bears lineman Dan Hampton’s helmet.
Looking at the box score I noticed two more things I did not know: The Bears had more total yards for the game and that in standard fantasy football, Dolphins QB Dan Marino had only .14 more points that Bears QB Steve Fuller who scored twice on a QB sneak and completed his only touchdown pass of the season to backup WR Ken Margerum. (In one week contests like Draft Kings or Fan Duel, Fuller would have had more points.)
I have said for years that the Dolphins losing the AFC title game that year to New England was the only reason the Bears won Super Bowl XX. After watching the game, looking at the stats, and realizing that Super Bowl XX was in the Louisiana Superdome on AstroTurf which helps the Bears who played its home games on it, I can no longer say that.