The Chicago Bears had the best defense in football last year, a proud and forceful unit that got them into their first NFC championship game since 1963. But that defense ended up being humiliated. The ultimate humiliation was called the Angus Play, a weird formation in which 264-pound San Francisco 49er guard Guy McIntyre lined up as a blocking back and helped produce two good gains in the 49ers' 23-0 blowout of the Bears in Candlestick Park last January.
The Bears waited nine months and on Sunday they finally got a bit of revenge. The payback came near the end of their 26-10 victory over the 49ers on the same field. It was called the Refrigerator Play and it was a classic of one-upmanship.
That play had nothing to do with the result. It was a reminder, a mild bit of finger-pointing. Mike Ditka, the Bears' coach, lined up 310-pound defensive tackle William Perry, the Refrigerator, as a fullback, and his two carries for two yards apiece rang down the curtain on the contest. Ditka has a long memory.
"I've got to break him in somewhere," Ditka said afterward, eyes twinkling. "I've got to get him on the field. Besides he just loves to run."
"Oh, we worked on it in practice," the rookie from Clemson said.
"How long?" someone asked.
"About 30 or 40 seconds."
So how do you account for these Bears, one of the two unbeaten teams in the NFL (the Rams are the other)?
You begin with that defense, a unit that sent five players to the Pro Bowl as starters. Then you add Walter Payton, the leading runner of all time, a guy whose 10 years in the NFL have taken none of the zip from his legs. Pretty good foundation, huh? But that wasn't enough last year. Points, the Bear fans pleaded all summer. Give us someone who'll light up the scoreboard and do it quickly, who will put the squeeze on the other guys and make them play catch-up.
Well, he was there all the time, hiding behind a pair of sunglasses and a punk rock haircut. The Raiders lacerated Jim McMahon's kidney in game No. 10 last November, and he was out for the season. The offense went on hold.