Bear-foot Ram Gives Chicago the Boot, 20-17 : Lansford Kick Beats Bears in Final Seconds

Times Staff Writer

The game, for goodness sakes, was left sitting out on the 35-yard line for the Ram offense to win.

This, of course, is something that can't be done. It's like asking a plumber to fix your carburetor or the mailman to do a root canal.

But what else was there to do with the game tied and 47 seconds remaining and the ball at your 35-yard line and the goal line so far away?

You had to put quarterback Steve Dils back out there against the Chicago Bears. You had no choice but to forget that he had, until then, completed only 3 of 22 passes for 103 yards.

Ram Coach John Robinson could only close his eyes and hope that this last drive would be different.

And it was.

With four seconds remaining, Robinson opened his eyes in time to see Mike Lansford kick a 50-yard field goal to give the Rams a 20-17 win over the Bears Monday night before a crowd of 64,877.

And though the Ram offense squirmed and stalled once again, who was there at the end to take all the bows?

Who else but Dils?

A goat until that final drive, he somehow came out of the game a hero.

Here's how:

With first down at the Ram 35, Dils threw 13 yards to Mike Guman, crossing over the middle, giving the Rams a first down at their 48.

Then it was Dils tossing a screen to Dickerson, who ran 12 yards to the Bear 40 with 29 seconds left.

Dils said that he made up both plays in the huddle after noticing that Bear linebacker Mike Singletary was hurt and limping around on the field.

After two incompletions, the Rams faced third and 10 with 18 seconds left. Dils threw another screen to Dickerson, who took it 8 yards to the 32. It was just far enough to get into Lansford's kicking range.

"I think that play caught them off guard," Dickerson said of the last screen. "They were looking for a deep pass down field. That was a good call." Lansford, who has had two kicks of 52 yards in his career, kicked the ball through cleanly, sending the Rams into the celebration they had hoped for last Jan. 12, when the Bears defeated them, 24-0, in the NFC title game.

"We haven't erased that totally," Dickerson said.

The Rams could also celebrate in knowing they had snapped Chicago's 14-game home winning streak, even though the Bears were without No. 1 quarterback Jim McMahon.

They could celebrate in knowing that a team really can beat the NFL champions without an offense.

"You can say we are one-dimensional and all that stuff, and I say so what," an emotional Robinson said afterward. "This was a big, big win for us."

The win allowed the Rams to open a 1 1/2-game lead in the NFC's Western Division.

It was the Rams' hope in this game to stay close enough to the Bears to have a chance in the end.

"I thought that if we got up on them we would beat them," Bear Coach Mike Ditka said. "But we didn't do it."

The Rams, as they do every week, relied on their defense to make things happen.

The Bears held a 3-0 lead in the third quarter when Ram cornerback Jerry Gray intercepted a Steve Fuller pass at the Bear 32 and returned it 18 yards to the 14, setting up a 26-yard field goal with 9:45 left in the quarter.

The Rams quickly made it 10-3 on the next series, when Bear punter Maury Buford was forced to hold an attempted punt or have it blocked by LeRoy Irvin, who had come through the line untouched. Buford ran right and fumbled at the Bear 25 after being hit by Jim Laughlin. Irvin scooped up the ball at the 22 and ran untouched into the end zone.

Momentum was with the Rams for only a matter of seconds, though, as Dennis Gentry returned the kickoff 84 yards to the Ram 15.

You wouldn't have recognized the Bear offense that took the field. Ditka replaced struggling starter Fuller (9 for 19, 102 yards, 2 interceptions) with quarterback Mike Tomczak.

Walter Payton had left the game with a dislocated big toe on his right foot.

But it didn't slow the Bears. On second down at the Ram 10, Thomas Sanders, Payton's replacement, ran 10 yards up the middle for the tying touchdown with 5:46 left in the third quarter.

On the Rams' next possession, a Dils pass was intercepted by safety Gary Fencik at the Ram 42. Fencik returned the ball 24 yards to the Ram 34.

Then it was Sanders again, going 34 yards around right end for the touchdown that gave the Bears a 17-10 lead with 4:23 left in the quarter.

The Bears might have kept the lead had it not been for Chicago's William Perry on the Rams' next possession.

The Rams were faced with a third and 16 situation but got a big break when Perry was called for unnecessary roughness for fighting with Ram guard Dennis Harrah, giving the Rams a first down at the 30.

Although Perry retaliated with two crunching tackles on Dickerson, on third down Dils threw deep to the speedy Ron Brown, who had beaten Shaun Gayle badly. Brown caught the ball at the Bear 37 and completed the 65-yard touchdown play that tied the game at 17 with 1:28 left in the quarter.

It would stay that way until the final minute, when Dickerson and Lansford and Dils made up for a night and a year's worth of anguish.

Dickerson, held to just 46 yards in last January's playoff loss to the Bears, gained 111 yards in 29 carries Monday night. On the last play of the first quarter, he dived for one yard, got it and broke Lawrence McCutcheon's all-time Ram rushing record of 6,186 yards.

It was Dickerson's sixth 100-yard rushing game of the season. But, he'll tell you, nothing felt better than this one.

Lansford will tell you the same.

"I'm ready for those kinds of kicks," Lansford said. "We're a good team. Hopefully, we're on our way to a championship season. The Bears are a stepping stone to that goal."

The Rams went into halftime having, in their minds, played the perfect half. They trailed, 3-0, after Kevin Butler's 30-yard first-quarter field goal, but they'd kept the game close enough to win.

That, in the end, was enough to allow Dils to forget:

--The fact that he'd completed his first pass, to Dickerson for 26 yards, but then missed the next 10.

--That he'd read the Bear blitz in the first quarter only to over-throw a wide-open Brown.

--That he'd thrown deep to Henry Ellard inside the Chicago 20 in the second quarter only to see Mike Richardson knock the ball away.

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