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The Bears haven't been fair all season, so why should they start now?
The New York Giants were supposed to have a chance Sunday in the National Football Conference semifinal game. They didn't. The Bears won 21-0 with a defense as cold-hearted as the weather that chilled 62,076 fans in Soldier Field.
William "the Refrigerator" Perry, all 304 pounds of him, even jumped on top of New York's 5-foot-7-inch running back, Joe Morris, and knocked him out of the game with a slight concussion. Morris returned, but at 5-6.
"I caught him with everything, everything I had," said Perry.
After Shaun Gayle's bizarre 5-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter, the mean and nasty Bears rubbed it in.
Quarterback Jim McMahon's two touchdown passes to receiver Dennis McKinnon in the third quarter might provoke a letter from commissioner Pete Rozelle charging unnecessary conduct.
McMahon can point out he threw them against the wind while wearing gloves.
Defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan had promised a shutout.
"We believe every thought Buddy shares with us," said safety Dave Duerson.
Richard Dent, freed up by another new wrinkle in Ryan's scheme, sacked Giants' quarterback Phil Simms 3 1/2 times. Simms was sacked six times, and the Giants punted after three plays nine of the first 11 times they had the ball.
Until the Giants gained 129 yards on their final two possessions, the Bears had held them to an average of 40 inches a play.
Morris gained 32 yards on only 12 carries. After a 14-yarder on his first attempt, he couldn't gain his height on each carry.
In a game of defense, Dent left no doubt about who was the most spectacular player on the field. He also led the Bears in tackles with 6 1/2, running down Morris from behind and preventing cutbacks.
The Giants came into the game with the No. 2 defense in the National Football League and left knowing that Avis is a lot closer to Hertz than the Giants are to the Bears.
Linebacker Lawrence Taylor, the greatest Giant, left kicking and screaming like a little kid and had to be calmed on the sideline by coach Bill Parcells. The Bears ran at him, cut him down and picked on him until all he could do was cuss like an All-Pro.
The Bears' offensive line did not allow a sack against a Giants' rush that had led the league in sacks. The offense also had no penalties or turnovers.
"Our players had a mission," said coach Mike Ditka. "The defense, you gotta love 'em. The job Buddy did was just a great job of coaching."
So after a spectacular season, the Bears proved Sunday they are as good as they were a year ago when they advanced to the NFC title game. They have promised to be better, and they will get the chance in Soldier Field next Sunday at 11:30 a.m. against the Los Angeles Rams in the game to decide the NFC representative in Super Bowl XX.
"It wasn't easy," Ditka insisted. "Nothing is easy in life. We beat a good football team. They manhandled the 49ers last week."
The Bears not only manhandled the Giants, they confused them like a bully who taps one shoulder and then sneaks up behind the other.
Ryan used what he called a "Smurf 46" with Gayle subbing for Perry. Ryan figured Gayle would match up better against the Giants' small third wide receiver, Phil McConkey, than linebackers Wilber Marshall or Otis Wilson would.
Marshall and Wilson then split to either side of the Giants' line instead of ganging up on one side as common in the "46." This put Wilson in Dent's usual spot over the weak-side tackle and put Dent over a guard where the Giants had trouble finding him and stopping the Bears' stunts.
Ryan had Wilson, Dent, Dan Hampton, Steve McMichael and Marshall--the Bears' five best pass rushers--going after Simms.
"They didn't know who to block," said Marshall. "That's what makes this defense so exciting, because it's so complicated nobody can figure it out."
Marshall, Duerson and middle linebacker Mike Singletary blitzed or faked blitzes to keep the Giants' backs in to block instead of swinging out for passes.
Simms took a page from the Miami Dolphins' playbook and rolled out, but his passes were hurried and off the mark.
If a 5-yard punt return for a touchdown wasn't a record, it was yet another way to entertain. Punter Sean Landeta was at his goal line because Dent had sacked Simms at the 12. Landeta said the 13 mile-an-hour wind blew the ball off course as he dropped it and it grazed off the side of his foot. It rolled to the side and was recorded as a punt for minus-7 yards.
Gayle managed to keep from laughing, scooped up the ball at the 5 and became the 22d Bear and 9th defender to score a point in a season in which everybody has been a hero.
"I saw him graze the ball, so I knew it was a punt," said Gayle. "My first touchdown since high school."
The Bears soon drove 83 yards only to watch Kevin Butler miss a 26-yard field goal, the first of three misses for the usually reliable Butler.
But the drive settled two things: Willie Gault was going to have to be double-teamed and the Bears could move the ball.
"I've never seen Willie that determined to go get the ball," said tackle Jimbo Covert.
Gault caught two passes in the drive and three in the first half.
"I talked to Willie, and Mike (Ditka) told him himself, 'Hey, we're going to need you,' " said McMahon. "He came up with great catches. He set the tone early. Then the safety had a tendency to play a little bit toward Willie and that's why Dennis was having a heyday."
Walter Payton ran for 93 yards and the Bears got 363, which is exactly 93 more than average against the Giants.
The Giants had a chance to score late in the half when they hit two big plays and were on the Bears' 2-yard line with 31 seconds left. But three straight incompletions, including a drop by Bobby Johnson, set up a 19-yard field-goal attempt by Eric Schubert. The ball hit the left upright and bounced back.
"When they missed that field goal, I knew we were going to come out the third quarter and move down the field," said center Jay Hilgenberg. "We were jacked up."
Butler missed a 38-yard field goal, but three plays later, the Bears had another chance from the New York 41.
On a third-down play from the 23, McKinnon took McMahon's pass away from Elvis Patterson in the corner of the end zone.
"That was our biggest offensive play," said Ditka. "I thought the seven points they would neutralize somewhere along the line, although they didn't."
Two series later, the Bears wrapped it up when McMahon connected on a 46- yard pass to tight end Tim Wrightman to set up the second touchdown.
From the 20, Ditka called a run, but McMahon saw a blitz, audibled and threw a perfect strike to McKinnon between Patterson and free safety Terry Kinard.
"They started stacking against the run and tried to free up Taylor by putting him over the center," said McMahon. "We had no way to block him, so we had to start going outside and start throwing the ball.
"Once we got the lead, I thought maybe they thought we would start running to control the clock, so it left their corners man-to-man on our wide receivers."
Nine of McMahon's 11 completions were against the wind.
"It wasn't as big a factor as I thought it would be," said McMahon. "I threw better against the wind. Why? Who knows? Why'd I cut my hair this summer? I don't know."
"When the game is on the line and you've got to perform, he's the kind of guy who turns it on," said fullback Matt Suhey. "He has the mentality of a running back or an offensive lineman stuck in a quarterback body."
That explains why McMahon decided to run a blind bootleg at Taylor right before the two-minute warning at the end of the game.