The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 26, 1986 · Page 20
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 20

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Sunday, January 26, 1986
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Page 20
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Super Bowl matchups The Salina Journal Sunday, January 26,1986 Page 20 By DAVE GOLDBERG AP Football Writer NEW ORLEANS — Matching the lineups of the Chicago Bears and the New England Patriots in Sunday's Super Bowl, to be played at the New rOrleans Superdome: Quarterback Chicago's Jim McMahon is the 'ultimate improviser, as attested to by his 16-yard dash up the middle for the Bears' first touchdown in the NFC title game against the Los Angeles ' rtams. Has the ability to think on the ' ftm and under pressure although he occasionally forces passes into cov- "erage. In and out of the lineup with : back problems, McMahon still ranked second in the NFC in passing efficiency with an 82.3 rating based on 2,392 yards, 15 TDs and a 56.9 percent completion percentage. New England's Tony Eason, one of six quarterbacks taken in the first - round of the 1983 NFL draft, runs a -conservative groud-based offense and passed only 42 times in the Patriots' three playoff victories, including 10 of 12 for 71 yards in the AFC title game win over Miami. Eason is mobile and could give the Bears trouble on rollouts, as Dan Marino did in Chicago's only loss. a EDGE: BEARS. ,: Running Backs • Chicago's Walter Payton had a classic Walter Payton year. He ran for 1,551 yards and added another record to the all-time NFL rushing tecord he set last season — nine straight gomes of 100 yards or more. Still blessed with great speed, he also has the power that most speed backs lack and prefers to run over opponents in the open field rather than around them. He also led the Bears in receiving. Fullback Matt Suhey is-used as a blocker and receiver and as a ! change-up to Payton, in which role he ran for 471 yards. Dennis Gentry is used as a third-down receiver and ' Calvin Thomas is a good short' yardage runner who sometimes gives way to William Perry, the ; "Refrigerator," in goal-line situations. New England's running is more balanced. Craig James took over for ,' Tony Collins this season and ran for J 1,227 yards, while Collins, who became a lead blocker and the team's leading receiver, still picked up 657. James can go inside and out, and his 104 yards against the Raiders in the playoff represented the only 100' yard game against Los Angeles this season. EDGE: EVEN. '. Offensive Line Chicago's front, on which fifth- year right tackle Keith Van Home is the senior man, is one of the emerging lines in the game. Left tackle Jim Covert and center Jay Hilgenberg are Pro Bowl players and Hilgenberg dominated against the Rams in the NFC championship game. Allowed i just 43 socks in 16 regular-season game and three in two playoff contests. Van Home at 280 pounds is the biggest of the bunch, Covert is 271, but Hilgenberg guards Mark Bortz '. and Tom Thayer are all under 270, making the line small by modem NFL standards. They make up for that lack of size with quickness. The New England line is tilted to the left side, with guard John Hannah and tackle Brian Holloway. The 34-year-old Hannah is considered one of the best ever and the 67, 288 pound Holloway has been voted to the Pro Bowl in three of his five seasons. Center Pete Brock, a 10-year man, returned strong after missing the first half of the season following knee surgery and right guard Ron Wooten is considered a comer. EDGE. PATRIOTS. Receivers Chicago's biggest threat is Willie Gault, the world-class hurdler, who averaged 21.3 yards on 33 catches during the regular season and has improved on his two most evident . weaknesses — drops and imprecise routes. The most reliable pass- catchers are Payton, wide receiver '' Dennis McKinnon and tight ends Emery Moorehead and Tim Wrightman. McKinnon is the clutch man and Wrightman averaged 17 yards per catch, a lot for a tight end, because of his ability to run over tacklers. New England has three deep threats — Stanley Morgan, Stephen Starring and Irving Fryar, if his injured hand heals enough to let him play. Derrick Ramsey, who played in CHICAGO Regular Season 38 Tampa Bay 28 20 New England 7 33 at Minnesota 24 45 Washington 10 27 at Tampa Bay 19 26 at San Fran. 10 23 Green Bay 7 27 Minnesota 9 16 at Green Bay 10 24 Detroit 3 44 at Dallas 0 36 Atlanta 0 24 at Miami 38 17 Indianapolis 10 19 at N.Y. Jets 6 37 at Detroit 17 Divisional Playoff 21 N.Y. Giants 0 NFC Championship 24 L.A. Rams 0 NEW ENGLAND Regular Season 26 Green Bay 20 7 at Chicago 20 17 at Buffalo 14 20 L.A. Raiders 35 20 at Cleveland 24 14 Buffalo 3 20 N.Y. Jets 13 32 at Tampa Bay 14 17 Miami 13 34 Indianapolis 15 20 at Seattle 13 13 at N.Y. Jets 16 38 at Indianapolis 31 23 Detroit 6 27 at Miami 30 34 Cincinnati 23 Wild-Card 26 at N.Y. Jets 14 Divisional Playoff 27 at L.A. Raiders 20 AFC Championship 31 at Miami 14 the 1981 Super Bowl with the Raiders, is the receiving tight end and Lin Dawson is the blocker. EDGE: EVEN. Defensive Line Chicago's overpowering defense stems from its overpowering line, which contains three All-Pros — Richard Dent, Steve McMichael and Dan Hampton. While the intricacies of defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan's stunts and blitzes cause confusion on opposing offenses, it's those three who wreak the havoc — Dent with speed, McMichael with power and Hampton with a combination of the two. The fourth starter is the well-known fullback William Perry, who's still learning to control his 300-plus pounds but can move that poundage with frightening speed. New England's group isn't as distinguished, but it's been almost as effective. The patriarch is 37-year- old Julius Adams, the NFL's oldest non-kicker or quarterback, who will be playing his last game in the Super Bowl. Despite his age, Adams still has speed and strength. Nose tackles Lester Williams and Dennis Owens don't overpower anyone, but they've been effective enough keeping offensive linemen off the linebacking corps that's the heart of the New England defense. Rookie Garin Veris, the left end, began the season as a pass-rush specialist but began playing full-time after Kenneth Sims broke his leg two-thirds of the way through the regular season. EDGE: BEARS. Linebackers No linebackers in the NFL had a better year than the Chicago's Otis Wilson, Wilber Marshall and Mike Singletary, the league's defensive player of the year. Marshall and Wilson often line up next to each other in the "46" defense that presents an eight-man front to the opposition. Wilson's lOVi sacks were second on the team to Dent's league- leading 17. The 6-foot Singletary, once thought too short for the NFL, is often left alone in the middle and uses his speed to cover from sideline to sideline. New England boasts the AFC sack leader in All-Pro outside linebacker Andre Tippett, with 16'/j sacks. The other outside linebacker, Don Blackmon, had eight sacks and is an outstanding run-stuffer and pass defender. Inside is Steve Nelson, who's slowed a bit from his All-Pro seasons but is still one of the game's headiest players. Larry McGrew and Johnny Rembert split the other posi tion. EDGE: BEARS, but not by much. Secondaries Chicago's corners, Leslie Frazier and Mike Richardson, are supposed to be the weak point of the defense. Chicago quarterback Jim McMahon wore a "I Love New Orleans" headband during a Bears' practice session last week. But when they're burned, it's often because the eight-man blitzes have left them alone in man-to-man coverage. Dave Duerson and Gary Fencik often swap strong and free safety spots and Fencik led the team in tackles by filling holes like a linebacker. New England, which once had five No.l picks in its secondary, is down to just two, right cornerback Raymond Clayborn and strong safety Roland James. The other corner is Ronnie Lippett, who had two interceptions in the playoff against the Raiders, and the free safety is Fred Marion. EDGE: PATRIOTS. Special Teams Rookie Kevin Butler, Chicago's place-kicker, is very accurate if not long, converting 31 of 37 field goal attempts in the regular season, the longest from 46 yards. Punter Maury Buford is average. His net average of 34.6 put him closer to the bottom than the top in the NFL standings and a slow release makes his kicks blockable. New England's punter. Rich Camarillo, has had better years — his 33- yard net was lower than Buford's. But he's more consistent. Place- kicker Tony Franklin was 24 for 30 on field-goal tries this year. Chicago's main weapon is Gault, who had a 99-yard kickoff return against Washington. The Patriots expect to have Fryar available to return punts. He led the league with a 14.1 average, including two for touchdowns. EDGE: PATRIOTS. Coaches No more vivid contrast could there be than Raymond Berry of the Patriots and Mike Ditka of the Bears. Ditka has mellowed since the days when he punched a locker in frustration after a loss, but he is still the tough tight end from Pittsburgh who motivates his players with the ice in his blue eyes. He's also not averse to innovations like the use of 300- pound defensive tackle William Perry in the backfield. The same goes for the "46" defense of defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, which sends bodies hurtling into the backfield from all angles. Berry is low-key all the way, sometimes professing to be dazed by the fast track of the NFL. His main influence has been to bring calm after years of friction among the players, the coach and the front office. His offense tends to be conservative, but he can be innovative. The two winning scores in one game came off a fleaflicker on fourth and one and a rollout after offensive tackle Steve Moore, positioned in the backfield, led Mosi Tatupu into the line. EDGE: BEARS. /McMahon (Continued from Page 19) leading all-time rusher, and William "The Refrigerator" Perry, the NFL's leading all-time media phenomenon, to tell their tales to relatively few. It left Fryar, the 'New England speedster whose sliced little finger had created a McMahon-like stir before the AFC title game, almost forgotten. There was McMahon mooning a helicopter ("I wanted to show them where it hurts," he said); there was McMahon leading, Pied Piper style, a parade down Bourbon Street; and there was the report by Diliberto, a New Orleans sportscaster, that McMahon had allegedly called New Orleans women "sluts." Diliberto publicly apologized for airing "unverified statements" and was indefinitely suspended by his station. But it didn't keep a group of two dozen women from picketing the Bears' hotel and several citizens from telephoning threats to McMahon. All this kept most minds off football, the main order of business today. Coach Mike Ditka said it may Bears expect 'bruise battle' NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The Chicago Bears are putting their Super Bowl hopes on the line — literally. "The key will be up front," said Bears coach Mike Ditka. "Their offensive line against our defensive line and vice versa." Simply put, the Bears must do two things to beat the New England Patriots: • Overpower the Patriots' renowned offensive line to pressure quarterback Tony Eason and stop the New England running backs. • Protect Chicago quarterback Jim McMahon, who has been nursing a tender backside this week, and give Walter Payton room to run. That comes down to a bruise battle. "This is not just another game," Ditka said. "This is "the Super Bowl. It will be one of the most physical games we'll play all year." McMahon's conduct — prowling Bourbon Street and mooning helicopters —has been zany to say the least, but he remains the key to the Bears' chance for a victory. His aching lower back and sore left buttock have responded to acupuncture treatment, much to Ditka's delight. "He looked good and he was moving well," Ditka said late in the week. "He should be 100 percent by Sunday. I'm happy to see that." Payton, the NFL's all-time leading rusher, can control the tempo of the game with his running once the Bears have taken a lead. But McMahon has to provide that lead. Payton rushed for 93 yards in the playoff victory over the Giants, but it was McMahon who put the Bears in front with touchdown passes of 23 and 20 yards to Dennis McKinnon. Payton gained only 32 yards in The Bears' 46 Defense Note The most unusual aspect ol this defense brings 6 and oltenas many as 8 up to the line of scrimmage where other teams use variations of the four-man line. the triumph over the Rams, but it was McMahon who scored on a 16- yard broken pass play and it was McMahon who locked it up with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Willie Gault. McMahon and the Bears also must guard against turnovers. "Both teams got here on defense," Ditka said. "Bothteamsdo not have flashy offenses. Both teams thrive on turnovers." While the Patriots were scoring their three playoff victories on the road, by intercepting passes and recovering fumbles, the Bears have had only one turnover in their two playoff games — and that one was a fluke when a punt hit a Chicago player. McMahon has not thrown an interception in the playoffs. During the season and as in most of his career, he has more touchdown passes than interceptions. During the regular season he had 15 touchdown passes against 11 interceptions. But he has been injury prone throughout his career. Last season he missed the last seven games and the playoffs because of a lacerated kidney. This season he did not start in five games because of various ailments. When McMahon does not play, he is replaced by Steve Fuller, and the Bear offense becomes less imaginative. Ditka, though, promises not to abandon his biggest innovation this year. He said 300-pound-plus William "The Refrigerator" Perry could see action on offense. "We could use nun in goal-line situations, but we will not use him in short-yardage situations." When he's not on offense, Perry is part of the defense, the team's strong point. The Bear defense, led by middle linebacker Mike Singletary and rushing linemen Richard Dent and Dan Hampton, will be seeking a third straight playoff shutout. And Bear linebacker Otis Wilson, caught up in the unbelievable crush of media questions, has predicted just that. "There have never been three shutouts in a row in the playoffs," Wilson said. "We plan on being a history-making team.'' Balance key for Patriots NEW ORLEANS (AP) - New England might run less to keep the Chicago Bears from running away with the Super Bowl. The Patriots, who leaned heavily on their outstanding ground attack to win their first three playoff games, say they are confident they can throw the ball well enough today to upset the Bears. "Our football team has the capability of being completely balanced," Coach Raymond Berry said. The Patriots, who pride themselves on consistency of emotion and performance, say they also must have a turnover advantage, control the ball and minimize mistakes against the Bears' top- ranked defense. "I think it's a misconception to say you can't ever do anything," Berry said. "People have had difficulty doing it (running against the Bears) and we may not be able to do it Sunday. But I never say you can't do anything." If the Bears blitz often and commit eight people to the rush, they can be burned if quarterback Tony Eason takes a quicker drop and throws short passes to backs and tight ends or bombs to wide receivers in man-to-man coverage. "That eight-man front puts so much pressure on the running game that it opens them up to that entire spectrum of the passing game," guard Ron Wooten said. "I don't think we can go at them and just run because if you do that they bring (free safety Gary) Fencik up on the line of scrimmage," said guard John Hannah. "I don't think a team that goes in without balance has a very good chance of winning," Berry said. "Anytime you get overbalanced you're in danger of getting beat by a better football team." The Patriots have been overbalanced in the playoffs, averaging 49 runs and 14 passes per game. "We have all the confidence in the world in Tony (Eason)," running back Tony Collins said. "When the pressure's on he's going to throw the ball and get (he job done." Running the ball against Chicago will not be easy. The Patriots averaged 170 rushing yards in their three playoff games, including 255 in their AFC Championship victory over the Miami Dolphins. The Bears gave up 82.4 yards per game on the ground during the regular season and 59 in the playoffs. That puts the burden on a strong offensive line of Brian Holloway, Hannah, Pete Brock, Wooten and Steve Moore. They must get blocking help from tight ends Lin Dawson and Derrick Ramsey and the running backs when Chicago rushes eight men. "There are probably 27 other teams in the league that would love to have a tandem like Wooten and Moore," said running back Craig James. "They're overshadowed because of Hannah and Holloway." The offensive line, Berry said, "is where games are won and lost every week. It starts with your big boys up front. In this particular game, we're up against the best defense in the league, so obviously our offensive line will be critical to our success." Although Chicago led the NFL in rushing defense, Collins said the Patriots won't give up on their ground game if it doesn't work early. "We're going to keep pounding them," he said. "We've been a second-half team and we wear teams down in the fourth quarter." The discipline of me Patriots' defensive front seven against mobile quarterback Jim McMahon is important. So is field position. "If you've got 20 yards to go, it's easier to score," said wide re- ceiyerCedric Jones. McMahon provides the Patriots with a new challenge. "His scrambling is a real concern," linebacker Steve Nelson said. "He likes to run. We played three (playoff) games against quarterbacks (Ken O'Brien, Marc Wilson and Dan Marino) who do not run. It means you have to be more disciplined in your pass rushing lanes. "Both teams have gotten here the same way," Nelson said. "That's by being able to turn the ball over, get field position and control the clock. The team that does that is going to win Sunday." have even relaxed the Bears. "I think it was a sane week," said Ditka, himself something of a hell-, raiser during his playing days. "All the McMahon stuff took the pressure off Payton and Perry. Now if he took off Wednesday night to rob a McDonald's — that's a lack of sanity." When attention finally turned to football, the major question was whether anything could be done to keep the hurtling bodies of Otis Wilson, Richard Dent, Dan Hampton and Mike Singletary from pounding the relatively inexperienced Eason into the turf. That's what happened the second week of the season, when the Bears beat the Pats 20-7 at Chicago's Soldier Field and that's what Wilson implied would happen today when he brashly predicted a shutout. The answer to that seemed to lie in the New England offensive line, featuring John Hannah, who may be the best guard ever to play the game. In a matchup worth the $75 ticket, he will often be head-to-head with the 300-pound Perry, who made it to the world of commercials by carrying the ball but whose future depends on muscling his way around the Hannahs to get to the Easons. Hannah and his cohorts, one of the top offensive lines in the NFL, must move out the league's stingiest defense to make room for running backs Craig James and Tony Collins. And they must give Eason time to find his wide receivers in a secondary often left in one-on-one coverage by Ryan's blitzes. They didn't in the first game — New England ran for just 27 yards. "That's where the game will be won or lost. Our front five against their front," says Eason, who threw just 12 passes in the 31-14 win over Miami that gave the Patriots the AFC championship. Meanwhile, the Patriots gained 255 yards on the ground. The Chicago offense features Payton, Payton and Payton plus the improvisational play of McMahon, whose demeanor on the field is often as unpredictable as his demeanor off it. In the Rams game, he threw out a draw play sent in from the bench and rolled out to throw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Wilie Gault. "I'm not sure even he knows what he'll do from one minute to the next," Ditka says. "He tells me he shocks himself sometimes." But McMahon must have room to improvise and Payton must have room to ramble, and that depends, once again, on the bodies up front — Jimbo Covert, Keith Van Home, Mark Bortz, Tom Thayer and Jay Hilgenberg. They'll be facing a much more conventional defense than their own, one that has allowed more than two touchdowns just three times in the last 14 games. New England, which finished with an 11-5 regular-season record, has won 12 of those, including road wins over the New York Jets, Los Angeles Raiders and Dolphins in the playoffs, the last to break an 18- game losing streak at the Orange Bowl. At the heart of that defense are the linebackers — Andre Tippett, Don Blackmon, Steve Nelson and Larry McGrew, nearly as intimidating a group as the Chicago defense. They're looking forward to an alley fight with the Bears' front. "I know some of those guys," says Tippett, who played at Iowa with Bortz and Hilgenberg. "Basically, they're all fighters. If I had to go into a shady area with them, I wouldn't worry because they wouldn't run out on me. "You look at the Super Bowl and you know it's going to be a physical game." New Orleans, where pushing and shoving can be the only way to get around the French Quarter, is the perfect p-tting.

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