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January 26, 1986 • Louisiana Superdome • New Orleans, Louisiana • NBC • 4:21 p.m. CST
(1) Chicago Bears Super Bowl XX (5) New England Patriots
900px-NFCN-Helmet-Bear Logo-CHI 46
Team 1 2 3 4 Totals
Bears 13 10 21 2 46
Patriots 3 0 0 7 10
NFL-AFC-Helmet-NE-Patriots Retro white facemask-Right side 10

Super Bowl XX
Super Bowl XX
1 2 3 4 Total
CHI 13 10 21 2 46
NE 3 0 0 7 10
Date January 26, 1986
Stadium Louisiana Superdome
City New Orleans, Louisiana
MVP Richard Dent, Defensive end
Favorite Bears by 10
National anthem Wynton Marsalis
Coin toss Bart Starr representing previous Super Bowl MVPs
Referee Red Cashion
Halftime show Up with People presents "Beat of the Future"
Attendance 73,818
TV in the United States
Network NBC
Announcers Dick Enberg, Merlin Olsen, and Bob Griese
Nielsen Ratings 48.3[1]
(est. 92.57 million viewers)[2]
Market share 70
Cost of 30-second commercial $550,000
Super Bowl XX Program
Super Bowl XX Program
 < XIX Super Bowl XXI > 

Super Bowl XX was an American football game between the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Chicago Bears and the American Football Conference (AFC) champion New England Patriots to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1985 season. The Bears defeated the Patriots by the score of 46–10, capturing their first NFL championship since 1963, three years prior to the birth of the Super Bowl. Super Bowl XX was played on January 26, 1986 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.

This was the fourth Super Bowl and, to date, the last time in which both teams made their Super Bowl debuts. The Bears entered the game after becoming the second team in NFL history to win 15 regular season games. With their then-revolutionary 46 defense, Chicago led the league in several defensive categories, outscored their opponents with a staggering margin of 456–198, and recorded two postseason shutouts against the New York Giants and the Los Angeles Rams. The Patriots were considered a Cinderella team during the 1985 season, and posted an 11–5 regular season record, but entered the playoffs as a wild card because of tiebreakers. But defying the odds, New England posted three road playoff wins against the New York Jets, Los Angeles Raiders, and the Miami Dolphins to advance to Super Bowl XX.

In their victory over the Patriots, the Bears set or tied Super Bowl records for sacks (seven), fewest rushing yards allowed (seven), and margin of victory (36 points). At the time, New England broke the record for the quickest lead in Super Bowl history, with Tony Franklin's 36-yard field goal 1:19 into the first quarter after a Chicago fumble. But the Patriots were eventually held to negative yardage (−19) throughout the entire first half, and finished with just 123 total yards from scrimmage, the second lowest total yards in Super Bowl history, behind the Minnesota Vikings (119 total yards) in Super Bowl IX. Bears defensive end Richard Dent, who had 1.5 quarterback sacks, forced two fumbles, and blocked a pass, was named the game's Most Valuable Player (MVP).[3] Although he posted relatively mediocre game statistics and failed to score a touchdown himself, star running back Walter Payton was also later credited as being a major factor in the Bears' victory on account of the Patriots' heavy coverage of him giving other members of the team more and better opportunities to score.

The telecast of the game on NBC was watched by an estimated 92.57 million viewers. To commemorate the 20th Super Bowl, all previous Super Bowl MVPs were honored during the pregame ceremonies.


NFL owners awarded the hosting of Super Bowl XX to New Orleans, Louisiana on December 14, 1982. This would be the sixth time that New Orleans hosted the Super Bowl. Tulane Stadium was the site of Super Bowls IV, VI, and IX; while the Louisiana Superdome previously hosted XII and XV.

"Da Bears" and the 46 defense[]

The 1985 Chicago Bears became national stars. Under head coach Mike Ditka, who won the 1985 NFL Coach of the Year Award, they went 15-1 in the regular season, becoming the second NFL team ever to win 15 regular season games (after the 1984 San Francisco 49ers). Their only loss was in a Monday night game against the Miami Dolphins.

The Bears' then-revolutionary, strong defense, "46 Zone", enabled them to lead the league during the regular season in fewest points allowed (198), interceptions (34), fewest total yards allowed (4,135), and fewest rushing yards allowed (1,319). And under a strong running game, Chicago led the NFL in rushing yards (2,761) and rushing touchdowns (27), and finished second in the league in scoring (456 points).

It was a team full of characters. Pro Bowl quarterback Jim McMahon provided the team with a solid passing attack, throwing for 2,392 yards and 15 touchdowns, while also rushing for 252 yards and 3 touchdowns. Running back Walter Payton, who was then the NFL's all time leading rusher with 14,860 yards, rushed for 1,551 yards. He also caught 49 passes for 483 yards, and scored 11 touchdowns. Linebacker Mike Singletary won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award by recording 3 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, and 1 interception.

But the player who got the most attention was a lovably large rookie defensive tackle simply known as the "Fridge", William "Refrigerator" Perry. Perry came into training camp before the season weighing over 320 pounds. But after Bears defensive coach Buddy Ryan told the press that the team "wasted" their first round draft pick on him, Perry worked hard to lose some weight to become a fine defensive tackle. He got even more attention when he started playing at the fullback position during offensive plays near the opponent's goal line. The spectacle of the 300+ pound Perry crashing through the line as a blocker or a ball carrier delighted many sports writers and fans. During the regular season, Perry rushed for 2 touchdowns, caught a pass for 1, and was frequently a lead blocker for Payton during goal line plays.

The Bears "46 defense" [4]also had the following impact players: On the defensive line, Pro Bowler Richard Dent led the NFL in sacks for the second year in a row with 17, while Pro Bowler and future hall of famer Dan Hampton recorded 6.5 sacks. In addition to Singletary, linebacker Otis Wilson had 10.5 sacks and 3 interceptions while Wilber Marshall recorded 4 interceptions. In the secondary, defensive back Leslie Frazier had 6 interceptions, Mike Richardson recorded 4 interceptions, Dave Duerson had 5 interceptions, and Gary Fencik recorded 5 interceptions and 118 tackles.

Chicago's main offensive weapon was Payton and the running game. A big reason for Payton's success was fullback Matt Suhey as the primary lead blocker. Suhey was also a good ball carrier, rushing for 471 yards and catching 33 passes for 295 yards. The team's rushing was also aided by Pro Bowlers Jim Covert and Jay Hilgenberg and the rest of the Bears offensive line.

In their passing game, the Bears primary deep threat was wide receiver Willie Gault, who caught 33 passes for 704 yards, an average of 21.3 yards per catch, and returned 22 kickoffs for 557 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Emery Moorehead was another key contributor, catching 35 passes for 481 yards. Wide receiver Dennis McKinnon was another passing weapon, recording 31 receptions, 555 yards, and 7 touchdowns.

Meanwhile, the players brought their characterizations to the national stage with the "Super Bowl Shuffle", a rap song the Bears recorded during the season. Even though it was in essence a novelty song, it actually peaked at #41 on the Billboard charts and got a Grammy nomination for best R&B song by a group.

The "Cinderella" Patriots[]

The Patriots were considered a cinderella team during the 1985 season because many sports writers and fans thought they were lucky to make the Super Bowl at all. New England began the season losing 3 of their first 5 games, but won 6 consecutive games to finish with an 11-5 record. However, the 11-5 mark only earned them third place in the AFC East behind the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets.

Quarterback Tony Eason, in his third year in the NFL, was inconsistent during the regular season, completing 168 out of 299 passes for 2,156 yards and 11 touchdowns, but also 17 interceptions. Eason suffered an injury midway through the season and was replaced by backup Steve Grogan, who was considered one of the best reserve quarterbacks in the league. Grogan was the starter in 6 of the Patriots' games, and finished the regular season with 85 out of 156 completions for 1,311 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions.

Wide receiver Stanley Morgan provided the team with a good deep threat, catching 39 passes for 760 yards and 5 touchdowns. On the other side of the field, multi-talented wide receiver Irving Fryar was equally effective, catching 39 passes for 670 yards, while also rushing for 27 yards, gaining another 559 yards returning punts and kickoffs, and scoring 10 touchdowns. But like the Bears, the Partiots main strength on offense was their rushing attack. Halfback Craig James rushed for 1,227 yards, caught 27 passes for 370 yards, and scored 7 touchdowns. Fullback Tony Collins rushed for 657 yards, recorded a team leading 52 receptions for 549 yards, and scored 5 touchdowns. The Patriots also had an outstanding offensive line, led by Pro Bowl tackle Brian Holloway and future hall of fame guard John Hannah.

New England's defense ranked 5th in the league in fewest yards allowed (5,048). Pro Bowl linebacker Andre Tippett led the AFC with 16.5 sacks. Outside linebackers Don Blackmon and Pro Bowler Steve Nelson were also big defensive weapons, excelling at pass coverage and run stopping. Also, the Patriots secondary only gave up 14 touchdown passes during the season, the 2nd fewest in the league. Pro bowl defensive back Raymond Clayborn recorded 6 interceptions for 80 return yards and 1 touchdown, while Pro Bowler Fred Marion had 7 interceptions for 189 return yards.


In the playoffs, the Patriots qualified as the AFC's second wild card, the last playoff seed under the rules of that time, and were forced to spend all of the postseason on the road. Thus going into the playoffs, it seemed unlikely that New England would become the fourth wild card team to advance to a Super Bowl.

But the Patriots shocked everybody, beating the New York Jets 26-14, Los Angeles Raiders 27-20, and the Dolphins 31-14 on the road to make it to the Super Bowl. The win against Miami had been especially surprising, not only because Miami was the only team to beat Chicago in the season, but also because New England had not won in the Orange Bowl (Miami's then-home field) since 1966, the Dolphins' first NFL season. The Patriots had lost to Miami there 18 consecutive times, including a 30-27 loss in their 15th game of the season. But New England dominated the Dolphins in the AFC Championship Game, recording two interceptions from quarterback Dan Marino and recovering 4 fumbles.

Meanwhile, the Bears became the first team in NFL history to shutout both of their opponents in the playoffs, beating the New York Giants 21-0 and the Los Angeles Rams 24-0.

Super Bowl pregame hype[]

Much of the Super Bowl pregame hype centered around Bears quarterback McMahon. First, he was fined by the NFL during the playoffs for a violation of the league's dress code, wearing a head band on which he had handwritten "Adidas". He then started to wear a head band saying "Rozelle", after then-league commissioner Pete Rozelle.

McMahon was also suffering a sore rear end from a hit he took in the NFC Championship Game. So he flew in his acupuncturist into New Orleans to get treatment. During practice four days before the Super Bowl, he started wearing a hand band that said "Acupuncture".

McMahon's most outrageous stunt involved mooning a passing helicopter flying overhead and other photographers during practice to show off his injured rear end. Pictures of that incident then appeared on the sports sections of many newspapers across the country.

Another anecdote involving Jim McMahon during the Super Bowl anticipation was the New Orleans’ press reporting a supposed quote of McMahon referring to the women of New Orleans as “sluts”. This caused wide controversy among the ladies of New Orleans and forced McMahon to publicly apologize (or defend, depending on the point-of-view) on sports radio, in which he denounced the claim as false, indicating (amusingly) that he couldn’t have said such things simply because he’s a late-sleeper, and wouldn’t have been up that early in the morning (of the supposed day, apparently) to publicly smear the women of New Orleans.[5]

Television and entertainment[]

The NBC telecast of the game, with play-by-play announcer Dick Enberg and color commentators Merlin Olsen and Bob Griese, garnered the third highest Nielsen rating of any Super Bowl to date, a 48.3.

To celebrate the 20th Super Bowl game, the Most Valuable Players of the previous Super Bowls were featured during the pregame festivities. After trumpeter Wynton Marsalis performed the national anthem, Bart Starr, Super Bowl MVP of I and II, tossed the coin.

The performance event group Up with People performed during the halftime show titled "Beat of the Future". Up with People dancers portrayed various scenes into the future. This was the last Super Bowl to feature Up with People.

The Last Precinct debuted on NBC after the game.

Game summary[]

The Patriots took the second quickest lead in Super Bowl history after linebacker Larry McGrew recovered a fumble from Walter Payton at the Chicago 19-yard line on the second play of the game. (Jim McMahon took responsibility for this fumble after the game, saying he had called the wrong play.) This set up Tony Franklin's 36-yard field goal 1:19 into the first quarter after 3 incomplete passes by Tony Eason. "I looked up at the message board," said Chicago linebacker Mike Singletary, "and it said that 15 of the 19 teams that scored first won the game. I thought, yeah, but none of those 15 had ever played the Bears."[6] Chicago struck back with a 7 play, 59-yard drive, featuring a 43-yard pass completion from Jim McMahon to wide receiver Willie Gault, to set up a field goal from Kevin Butler, tying the score 3-3.

After both teams traded punts, Richard Dent and linebacker Wilber Marshall shared a sack on Eason, forcing a fumble that lineman Dan Hampton recovered on the Patriots 13-yard line. Chicago then drove to the 3-yard line, but had to settle for another field goal from Butler after rookie defensive lineman William "Refrigerator" Perry was tackled for a 1-yard loss while trying to throw his first NFL pass on a halfback option play. On the Patriots' ensuing drive, Dent forced running back Craig James to fumble, which was recovered by Singletary at the 13-yard line. Two plays later, Bears fullback Matt Suhey scored on an 11-yard touchdown run to increase the lead 13-3.

New England took the ensuing kickoff and ran one play before the first quarter ended, which resulted in positive yardage for the first time in the game (a 3-yard run by James). But after an incomplete pass and a 4-yard loss, they had to send in punter Rich Camarillo again, and receiver Keith Ortego returned the ball 12 yards to the 41-yard line. The Bears subsequently drove 59 yards in 10 plays, featuring a 24-yard reception by Suhey, to score on McMahon's 2-yard touchdown run to increase their lead, 20-3. After the ensuing kickoff, New England lost 13 yards in 3 plays and had to punt again, but got the ball back with great field position when defensive back Raymond Clayborn recovered a fumble from Suhey at their own 46-yard line.

Patriots coach Raymond Berry then replaced Eason with Steve Grogan, who had spent the previous week hoping he would have the opportunity to step on to NFL's biggest stage. "I probably won't get a chance." he had told reporters a few days before the game. "I just hope I can figure out some way to get on the field. I could come in on the punt-block team and stand behind the line and wave my arms, or something."[7] But on his first drive, Grogan could only lead them to the 37-yard line and they decided to punt rather than risk a 55-yard field goal attempt. The Bears then marched 72 yards in 11 plays, moving the ball inside the Patriots 10-yard line. New England kept them out of the end zone, but Butler kicked his third field goal on the last play of the half to give Chicago a 23-3 halftime lead.

In fact, however, Butler's late kick shouldn't have happened. The Bears had the ball on the Patriots' two yard line as the last seconds of the half were ticking away, and they snapped the ball before it was formally put it back into play, allowing McMahon to throw the ball out of bounds and stop the clock with three seconds left. The Bears were penalized five yards, but according to NFL rules ten seconds should have been counted off the clock, which would have ended the half leaving no time for the kick. This mistake was promptly acknowledged by the officials and reported by NBC sportscasters during halftime, but the resulting three points were not taken away from the Bears.

The Bears had absolutely dominated New England in the first half, holding them to 21 offensive plays (only 4 of which resulted in positive yardage), -19 total offensive yards, 2 pass completions, 1 first down, and 3 points. Meanwhile, Chicago gained 236 yards and scored 23 points themselves.

After the Patriots received the second half opening kickoff, they managed to get one first down, but then had to punt after Grogan was sacked twice. Camarillo, who punted 4 times in the first half, managed to pin the Bears back at their own 4-yard line with a Super Bowl record 62-yard punt. But the Patriots defense still had no ability to stop Chicago's offense. On their very first play, McMahon faked a handoff to Payton, then threw a 60-yard completion to Gault. Eight plays later, McMahon finished the Super Bowl record 96-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to make the Bears lead 30-3. On New England's second drive of the period, Chicago cornerback Reggie Phillips intercepted a pass from Grogan and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown to increase the lead 37-3.

On the second play of their ensuing possession, the Patriots turned the ball over again, when receiver Cedric Jones lost a fumble after catching a 19-yard pass from Grogan, and Marshall returned the fumble 13 yards to New England's 37-yard line. A few plays later, McMahon's 27-yard completion to receiver Dennis Gentry moved the ball to the 1-yard line, setting up perhaps the most memorable moment of the game. William "the Refrigerator" Perry was brought on to score on offense, as he had done twice in the regular season. His touchdown made the score 44-3. The Bears' 21 points in the third quarter is still a record for the most points scored in that period.

The Patriots finally scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, advancing the ball 76 yards in 12 plays and scoring on an 8-yard pass from Grogan to receiver Irving Fryar. But the Bears defense dominated New England for the rest of the game, forcing another fumble, another interception, and defensive lineman Henry Waechter's sack on Grogan in the end zone for a safety to make the final score 46-10.

One irony in the Bears victory was that Payton had a relatively poor performance running the ball and never scored a touchdown in Super Bowl XX, his first and only Super Bowl appearance during his hall of fame career. Although Payton was ultimately the Bears' leading rusher during the game, the Patriots defense held him to only 61 yards on 22 carries, with his longest run being only 7 yards. He was given several opportunities to score near the goal line, but New England stopped him every time before he reached the end zone (such as his 2-yard loss from the New England 3-yard line a few plays before Butler's second field goal, and his 2-yard run from the 4-yard line right before McMahon's first rushing touchdown). Thus, Chicago head coach Mike Ditka opted to go for other plays to counter the Patriots defense. Perry's touchdown and McMahon's rushing touchdowns could be considered as scoring opportunities that were denied to Payton.

McMahon, who completed 12 out of 20 passes for 256 yards, became the first quarterback in a Super Bowl to score 2 rushing touchdowns. Bears receiver Willie Gault finished the game with 129 receiving yards on just 4 receptions, an average of over 32.2 yards per catch. He also returned 4 kickoffs for 49 yards. Suhey had 11 carries for 52 yards and a touchdown, and caught a pass for 24 yards. Singletary tied a Super Bowl record with 2 fumble recoveries.

Eason became the first Super Bowl starting quarterback to fail to complete a pass, going 0 for 6 attempts. The Bears also dominated Patriots starting running back James, holding him to 1 yard on 5 carries, with 1 fumble. Grogan completed 17 out of 30 passes for 177 yards and 1 touchdown, with 2 interceptions. Although Fullback Tony Collins was the Patriots leading rusher, he was limited to just 4 yards on 3 carries, and caught 2 passes for 19 yards. New England receiver Stephen Starring returned 7 kickoffs for 153 yards and caught 2 passes for 39 yards.

Box score/Game Information[]

1 2 3 4 Total
Bears 13 10 21 2 46
Patriots 3 0 0 7 10
  • Stadium: Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Date: January 26, 1986
  • Time: 4:21 p.m. CST
  • Weather: Played indoors, domed stadium
  • TV Network coverage: NFL on NBC

Scoring summary[]

  • NE - FG: Tony Franklin 36 yards 3-0 NE
  • CHI - FG: Kevin Butler 28 yards 3-3 tie
  • CHI - FG: Kevin Butler 24 yards 6-3 CHI
  • CHI - TD: Matt Suhey 11 yard run (Butler kick) 13-3 CHI
  • CHI - TD: Jim McMahon 2 yard run (Butler kick) 20-3 CHI
  • CHI - FG: Kevin Butler 24 yards 23-3 CHI
  • CHI - TD: Jim McMahon 1 yard run (Butler kick) 30-3 CHI
  • CHI - TD: Reggie Phillips 28 yard interception return (Butler kick) 37-3 CHI
  • CHI - TD: William Perry 1 yard run (Butler kick) 44-3 CHI
  • NE - TD: Irving Fryar 8 yard pass from Steve Grogan (Franklin kick) 44-10 CHI
  • CHI - Safety: Steve Grogan sacked in end zone by Henry Waechter 46-10 CHI

Starting lineups[]


Chicago Position New England
Willie Gault WR Irving Fryar
Jim Covert LT Brian Holloway
Mark Bortz LG John Hannah
Jay Hilgenberg C Pete Brock
Tom Thayer RG Ron Wooten
Keith Van Horne RT Steve Moore
Emery Moorehead TE Lin Dawson
Dennis McKinnon WR Stanley Morgan
Jim McMahon QB Tony Eason
Matt Suhey FB Craig James
Walter Payton RB Tony Collins
Dan Hampton LE Julius Adams
Steve McMichael LDT-NT Lester Williams
William Perry RDT-RE Garin Veris
Richard Dent RE-LOLB Andre Tippett
Otis Wilson LLB-LILB Steve Nelson
Mike Singletary MLB-RILB Larry McGrew
Wilber Marshall ROLB Don Blackmon
Leslie Frazier LCB Raymond Clayborn
Mike Richardson RCB Ronnie Lippett
Dave Duerson SS Roland James
Gary Fencik FS Fred Marion


  • Referee: Red Cashion
  • Umpire: Ron Botchan
  • Head Linesman: Bama Glass
  • Line Judge: Dale Williams
  • Field Judge: Jack Vaughan
  • Side Judge: Bob Rice
  • Back Judge: Al Jury

See also[]


  1. "Super Bowl on TV (ratings)", CNN Sports Illustrated. Retrieved on 2007-08-02. 
  3. Richard Dent became just the second defensive end to be named Super Bowl MVP. The first being Harvey Martin, as he shared to MVP with fellow D-Lineman Randy White for Super Bowl XII.
  4. A major reason why the 46 defense was so effective in 1985 was that almost all of their opponents were unprepared for its then-unusual primary tactic: blitz five to eight players on each play. But in less than two years, offensive coaches discovered how to exploit the 46 defense by using quick, timed passes from formations that used multiple receivers.
  6. SportsIllustrated
  7. SportsIllustrated
  8. Neft, David S., Cohen, Richard M., and Korch, Rick. The Complete History of Professional Football from 1892 to the Present. 1994 ISBN 0312114354

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