Great Games in Bears History

The Chicago Bears sported a new look in 1965, thanks to two rookies -- both destined for the Pro Football Hall of Fame -- on each side of the ball. Despite starting the season with three straight losses on the road, the Chicago faithful were anxious to get their first live look at Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus, and their Wrigley Field debuts did not disappoint.

On a beautiful autumn day, the Bears dismantled the visiting Los Angeles Rams 31-6, which provided the impetus for a 9-5 season.

These were the Rams of the "Fearsome Foursome" days, with linemen named Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen, Rosey Grier and Lamar Lundy. But someone must have forgotten to tell the dazzling Sayers and sophomore fullback Andy Livingston, who finished with 111 all-purpose yards.

Livingston got the scoring started with a three-yard TD run (Roger Leclerc extra point), followed by a screen pass from Rudy Bukich to Sayers that turned into a highlight-reel 80-yard touchdown. A one-yard quarterback sneak from Bukich, who finished with 16 completions in 22 attempts for 299 yards, made the score 24-6. Then Sayers provided the exclamation point when he took a handoff and hit fellow rookie Dick Gordon with a 26-yard scoring pass while the 45,760 fans roared their approval.

Of his screen pass touchdown, Sayers said he felt trapped on the play at least a couple of times. "But I just kept going," he said. "I got one great block from Mike Rabold and another from Jim Cadile. Then Mike Ditka and Johnny Morris really finished up the job and I was on my way."

As for the option pass, Sayers said he urged Bukich to call the play. "I knew the play would work," he said. "I was sure Dick could get behind the Rams defense. And if he hadn't been able to, I had the option to run."

Defensively, Butkus and his ravenous cohorts Earl Leggett, Doug Atkins, Dick Evey, Bob Kilcullen, Larry Morris and Joe Fortunato pressured Rams' quarterbacks Bill Munson and Roman Gabriel all afternoon, holding the Rams to two meaningless field goals. Bennie McRae and Dave Whitsell took turns keeping Hall of Fame wide receiver Tommy McDonald out of the end zone.

Here's how the Chicago Tribune's George Strickler described the game: "The Bears blocked to punish and tackled to intimidate. Veterans provided the muscle and set the pattern. Rookies and a sophomore supplied most of the thrills."


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