Great Games in Bears History

This was a wild one. Forty years to the day the Bears beat the Washington Redskins 73-0 in the 1940 NFL title game, the Bears dismantled the <!--Default NodeId For Green Bay is 114,2005--><A HREF=>Green Bay</A> Packers 61-7. However, on the same mild afternoon, the Bears were eliminated from the NFL playoffs due to a Minnesota Vikings victory in week 13. But at least the Bears went out with a bang.

Everything went right for Neill Armstrong's Bears -- and everything went wrong for Bart Starr's Green Bay Packers. In 60 minutes, the Bears scored more points than they did during the month of September in the season's first four games.

It was a day that saw sportswriters scrambling for the record book. The 61 points tied the team record for a regular-season game, matching the day Gale Sayers scored six touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers in 1965. Their 33 first downs were a team record, and Vince Evans' 316 passing yards were the most by a Bears' QB since Jack Concannon in 1970.

The 54-point victory margin was the most since the Bears beat the Baltimore Colts 57-0 in 1962, and it was the biggest winning margin in the history of the Bears-Packers series. Their 594 total yards were the most since 1949 against the Chicago Cardinals. And with 130 yards on 22 carries, Walter Payton passed Larry Csonka and moved to sixth on the all-time rushing list, with only Joe Perry, Jim Taylor, Franco Harris, O.J. Simpson and Jim Brown left to catch.

After a scoreless first quarter, Payton kicked off the scoring parade with a one-yard TD run, climaxing a drive highlighted by a 52-yard pass from Evans to speedster James Scott. Soon after it was 14-0 when Payton went over from the three-yard line, followed by a one-yard scoring run from Roland Harper after a botched Green Bay punt snap.

Green Bay averted the shutout on a 15-yard pass from Lynn Dickey to James Lofton, but the Bears made the score 28-7 before the first half ended on a four-yard scoring pass from Evans to Brian Baschnagel.

The Bears picked up where they left off in the third quarter, as Evans threw a nine-yard TD pass to Robin Earl and a 53-yard heave to Rickey Watts. Bob Thomas had his PAT attempt blocked to make the score 41-7.

The fourth quarter saw Payton run to pay dirt from 14 yards, Lenny Walterscheid return an interception 36 yards for a score and Willie McClendon burst over from the one for the game's final points. Final score: Bears 61, Packers 7.

Despite the big game, Bears' players were disappointed their shot at the 1980 playoffs was extinguished.

"We beat Green Bay," snapped middle linebacker Tom Hicks. "Big deal."

While some Packer fans accused Armstrong of running up the score, the Bears' head coach said no.

"We hadn't scored a touchdown against them since 1978," he said. "I don't gloat, and I don't want anybody to gloat. It just happened."

Of course, try telling that to the Bear fans who danced along the sidewalks outside Soldier Field after the game.

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