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Nov. 3, 1985: Amid the fights, Walter Payton carries the Bears

Jan. 17, 2011
 
Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton (34) leaps to give a high five to defensive tackle William "The Refrigerator" Perry, who scored on a short touchdown pass during the second quarter of Chicago’s 16-10 victory over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Nov. 3, 1985. From left are Packers defensive linemen Donnie Humphrey (79), Charles Martin (94), Robert Brown (93) and Ezra Johnson (90). Press-Gazette archives
Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton (34) leaps to give a high five to defensive tackle William "The Refrigerator" Perry, who scored on a short touchdown pass during the second quarter of Chicago’s 16-10 victory over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Nov. 3, 1985. From left are Packers defensive linemen Donnie Humphrey (79), Charles Martin (94), Robert Brown (93) and Ezra Johnson (90). Press-Gazette archives
Green Bay Packers cornerback Mark Lee walks off the field after being ejected for shoving Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton over the bench on the Bears’ sideline during the first quarter of a 16-10 loss to the Bears at Lambeau Field on Nov. 3, 1985. There were five unnecessary roughness penalties in the first half and even more shoving matches. The Press-Gazette’s Bob McGinn called it “a Pier Six brawl that faintly resembled a football game.” Press-Gazette archives

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The game always will be known for a late hit and an ejection.

It also should be remembered because one of the greatest running backs to ever play the game shouldered an offensive load as never before against the Packers.

On Nov. 3, 1985, the Chicago Bears outmuscled Green Bay 16-10 in a physical and acrimonious meeting at Lambeau Field.

Packers cornerback Mark Lee was thrown out after he and Bears running back Walter Payton went flying over a bench in the first quarter. A few minutes later, Packers safety Ken Stills was flagged for hitting Matt Suhey, Payton's backfield mate, well after the whistle.

The intensity level of this long-standing rivalry soared in the mid-'80s. Head coaches Mike Ditka and Forrest Gregg had no use for one another, and their teams followed their lead.

The jawing between the organizations only increased after William "The Refrigerator" Perry, a mammoth defensive tackle, scored on a 1-yard plunge in the first meeting that year, a 23-7 Bears win in a nationally televised game on Monday night.

Chicago (8-0) was cruising toward its first NFL title in 22 years. Green Bay (3-5) was mired in fourth place in the NFL Central Division ahead of only the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Payton, the NFL's all-time leading rusher at the time, stayed above the fray. He simply went about his business and did so exceedingly well.

On an afternoon when quarterback Jim McMahon completed a season-low 45 percent of his passes, Payton rushed 28 times for 192 yards and scored the game-clinching touchdown. With 14 yards on three receptions, his 206 yards from scrimmage accounted for 73.8 percent of the Bears' 279 gross yards.

Payton lined up in the backfield on 59 of Chicago's 60 offensive plays. He accounted for all nine of his team's rushing first downs and ripped off eight runs of 10 or more yards.

His only negative was a fumble on the second play of the game. Defensive end Ezra Johnson recovered and Al Del Greco put the Packers ahead 3-0.

The Bears fell behind for a second time in the third quarter. Jim Zorn hit running back Jessie Clark with a 55-yard touchdown pass.

Payton helped rally Chicago from both deficits. He carried six times for 35 yards and caught a 6-yard pass as the Bears reached the Green Bay 4-yard line. On second down, McMahon flipped a 4-yard TD pass to Perry, who had gone in motion. Chicago went up 7-3.

Payton then helped put away the Packers. Steve McMichael sacked Zorn for a safety. After punter Joe Prokop's free kick, Payton gained 5 and McMahon threw to tight end Tim Wrightman for 17. From there, Payton carried 27 yards to the end zone, bouncing off rookie linebacker Brian Noble's attempted tackle at the 21.

"Walter Payton has been much of the Bears' offense today and fittingly for the Chicago Bears, he scores that touchdown that put them ahead," CBS play-by-play announcer Tim Ryan said.

Eric Goska is a Press-Gazette correspondent, a Packers historian and the author of "Green Bay Packers: A Measure of Greatness," a statistical history of the Packers. E-mail him at aegoska@sbcglobal.net

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