Dan Hampton's value to the Chicago Bears' defense was evident last season when the veteran lineman missed the last 12 games and the Bears went 2-10 after a 4-0 start.
Hampton, who has had 10 knee operations, began his 12th season Sunday and led a swarming pass rush that helped the Bears defeat the Seattle Seahawks, 17-0, at Chicago.
It was the Bears' first shutout since last Nov. 12, when they beat Pittsburgh, 20-0. It was also the Bears' seventh consecutive season-opening victory.
The Bears did not allow the Seahawks to get inside the Chicago 45-yard line. The Seahawks managed only 132 yards--58 rushing and 74 passing.
Hampton, Richard Dent, Trace Armstrong, Steve McMichael and William Perry pressured Seahawk quarterback Dave Krieg and sacked him three times with a rush reminiscent of 1985-86, when the Bears terrorized opponents on their way to a 46-10 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.
Krieg completed 12 of 27 passes for 91 yards and had three passes intercepted.
It was the second consecutive shutout suffered by the Seahawks, who were beaten, 29-0, by Washington in their final game last season. Before that, they had not been shut out since 1982.
"I'm elated by what we accomplished," Bear Coach Mike Ditka said. "It was an example of playing hard with nothing fancy. The defense was awesome."
Neal Anderson led the Bears' offense, rushing for 101 yards and scoring two touchdowns.
Jim Harbaugh completed 21 of 29 passes for 203 yards and established himself as the Bears' No. 1 quarterback.
But it was the defense that set the tone early with Dent and Hampton sharing a sack of Krieg, and Armstrong coming back with another on the first series of plays.
Shaun Gayle set up the Bears' first points when he intercepted a Krieg pass in the first quarter.
Kevin Butler kicked a 47-yard field goal to put the Bears ahead, 3-0.
Lemuel Stinson intercepted Krieg's pass late in the first quarter, which led to a 61-yard drive by the Bears that ended with Anderson's 17-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter.
The Bears sealed the victory when Harbaugh engineered a 96-yard drive in the fourth quarter.
Harbaugh, in his fourth season out of Michigan, completed passes of 36 yards to Anderson and 12 yards to Quintin Smith during the drive. The pass to Smith put the ball on the 19. Anderson followed with a 15-yard run, then capped the drive with a four-yard scoring run with 8:42 left.
"We hung in there, but we didn't do anything offensively," Seahawk Coach Chuck Knox said.
"We just couldn't make any plays. We also had three dropped passes, and that killed our chances. You have to give their defense credit."