"Hey, we beat 'em in the sunlight, too," said Thayer. "Personally, I loved the fog. It meant less passing for us. A lineman's dream—just keep running the ball."
"The weirdest," said Chicago defensive end Al Harris, who knocked down three passes. "One time on the sideline I watched a sweep start, then both teams disappeared. I expected to see Sherlock Holmes come out of the fog with his pipe and trench coat: 'Watson, was that a hound I heard?' "
The San Francisco 49ers, who will play Chicago for the NFC title on Sunday, must have liked what they saw—if they saw it. The Bears didn't show the attacking defense that got them the No. 2 ranking in the NFL. Instead, they looked like one of those bend-but-don't-break outfits, a defense that kept giving up yards before getting it together near the goal line. By working mostly intermediate routes, Cunningham put up some remarkable numbers; he completed 27 of 54 passes for 407 yards.
Philadelphia was within 25 yards of the Chicago goal line 10 times, the result of drives or turnovers (a fumble and three Tomczak interceptions) but the Eagles got only four field goals, those coming after they had first downs on Chicago's 11, 14, 5 and 17. Worse, Philly had first downs on the Chicago 11, 17 and 16 and came away with zero. And in the second quarter, the Eagles were stopped on downs at the Bear four after what looked like, a bungled job of spotting the ball by the officials.
How did Philadelphia fail? Let us count the ways: three interceptions, a dropped pass in the end zone in the second quarter by Jackson, back-to-back touchdown catches in the first quarter that were wiped out by penalties. The point is, most of the action was supplied by the Eagles.
The Bears were worried about Cunningham's ability to scramble, but several times, when he had a soft corner and could have taken off, he pulled up and threw. "It seemed," said Bob Hollway, the Minnesota Vikings' director of pro personnel, who was scouting the game, "that he was saying, 'See, I don't have to scramble to beat you.' "
Meanwhile, the Bear offense showed little consistency but produced some big plays—with help from the Eagles. People had wondered how a Philly defense that had forced the second-most turnovers in the league could finish next to last in the league in yards allowed. In short, the Eagles have a big-play, big-screw-up defense. The Bears got their first touchdown—a 64-yard pass from Tomczak to wideout Dennis McKinnon—on a mixup between cornerback Roynell Young and strong safety Andre Waters. And, just before the fog hit late in the second quarter, Chicago was back on its seven, but Thomas Sanders broke a sweep for 58 yards to set up a field goal. Three Eagles overpursued on the play. Chicago's second touchdown was set up by a pass from Tomczak to wide receiver Ron Morris, who broke a six-yard hook pattern into a 27-yard gain because the Eagle nickelback, Izel Jenkins, was late covering.
It was a day on which the Bears seemed like mere witnesses to the Eagles' self-destruction. And yes, at times they played as if they were in a fog.