Great Performance in Bears History

Jim McMahon could butt heads with Pete Roselle and Mike Ditka, creatively shave his own head and lead the Bears to victory after victory in the mid-1980s. But one thing the Punky QB couldn't do is avoid the injury bug for long stretches.

On those occasions when McMahon had to watch the game in a headband, street clothes and sunglasses, the Bears tabbed Steve Fuller to line up behind center Jay Hilgenberg.

Fuller was the antithesis of the flamboyant McMahon off the field. But on it, the Bears usually didn't miss a beat with him running the offense.

No words were probably more prophetic, as far as the Bears were concerned, than the lyrics Fuller rapped out when it came his turn to take center stage in the 1985 "Super Bowl Shuffle" video:

"They say Jimbo is our man. If Jimmy can't do it, I sure can."

Fuller wasn't able to avoid injuries altogether himself. Prior to the start of the 1984 season, he separated his right (throwing) shoulder. However, the injury had completely healed by the time Ditka summoned Fuller into action after McMahon went down with kidney lacerations versus the Los Angeles Raiders Nov. 4.

Fuller started the next week against the L.A. Rams, and the Rams ended up handing the Bears a 29-13 loss. The following Sunday, though, Fuller guided the Bears to a 16-14 nail biter over NFL Central rival Detroit.

The win left the Bears 8-4 heading into a key divisional matchup at Minneapolis with the Vikings Nov. 25. Playing in the Metrodome gives the Vikes more of a home field advantage than most NFL clubs enjoy, as fans take advantage of the structure's acoustics to drown out an opposing quarterback while he's trying to call signals.

But Minnesota's 12th man never was a factor in this one. Fuller and the Bears took Viking faithful out of it early, romping to a 34-3 victory to give Chicago its first title of any kind since winning the NFL crown in 1963.

Numbers-wise, Fuller didn't rack up a particularly impressive game as he finished 12 of 19 for 143 yards. He also played most of the contest with a pulled left hamstring. Yet Fuller sliced through the Vikes for two first-half touchdown passes -- one a 30-yarder to speedy Willie Gault on a crossing pattern and the other near the end of the half to tight end Emery Moorehead, this a 13-yarder.

Fuller would be called on periodically during the Bears' march to Super Bowl XX. He unfortunately had the dubious distinction of quarterbacking the team when it suffered its only defeat of the year at the hands of the Miami Dolphins (38-24). That Monday night game, by the way, drew a 29.6 Nielsen rating -- still the highest rated game in the history of Monday Night Football.

The Clemson product, whose career with the Bears ended after the 1986 season, played in the NFL 10 years.


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