February 6, 2011

MAYTAG, YOU'RE IT:

Da Bears! An Oral History: Fifteen years ago, Sweetness, Samurai, Iron Mike, the Fridge, and a comic book's worth of superheroes roared out of Chicago, taking the NFL by storm. By the time the season was over, they had shuffled their way to the Super Bowl. Andrew Santella retraces their glorious season—and finds out why they never built a dynasty (Andrew Santella, October 2000, GQ)

Three weeks later, the Bears avenged the previous years' season-ending loss to the 49ers, beating San Francisco 26–10. Ditka completed the payback by inserting Perry in the offensive backfield for the game's final two plays and twice calling "34 dive straight." Perry carried both times, picking up two yards on each. They were his biggest rushing gains of the season, and they launched a new phenomenon.

Perry: They asked me to run the ball and block and I said, "Yeah." We started the plays on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It was fine with me, because at that time I was a rookie and the only thing I was doing was on special teams. I wasn't starting on defense yet, so it was just something to be on the team.

Hampton: We put him on offense during the week in practice and we thought it was hysterical.

McMahon: My biggest problem was trying to get my hands and arms out of his when he tried to grab the ball. It's tough to explain to him, you don't grab the ball, I'll put it there. But he saw the ball and he wanted to grab it and everything that was around it. Nearly pulled my arms off a few times.

Ditka: When we got the lead, I put Perry in the backfield and ran him with the ball. And that's where it started.

McMahon: Ditka was just getting back at (49ers coach Bill) Walsh and then all of a sudden it became a pretty good play, because trying to stop him was not fun. Just ask the guys he hit.

Hampton: They put him in the game, it was almost like you could see a magical baton go from their sideline over to ours. It was a transformation. They knew and we knew they were no longer king of the hill. We were.

Ditka: And then in the meetings, we'd say, "Well, if he can block for a touchdown and run for a touchdown, then we'll let him catch a pass for a touchdown." We had a play in where he threw the ball, we thought we could throw a pass for a touchdown. It was something that kind of unified our team. We worked on the goal line in practice and the guys said, "This is gonna be good."

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Posted by Orrin Judd at February 6, 2011 6:35 AM
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