Bears aren’t averse to playing trick ball — usually with little success
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org September 18, 2012 9:24PM
Green Bay Packers' Tom Crabtree (83) celebrates as he scores a touchdown on a pass from punter Tim Masthay during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Against the Colts, the Bears recovered from a slow start to run 23 consecutive plays without a negative one (sack, penalty, etc.). In their five touchdown drives, the offense had just one negative play in a span of 41 plays — a holding call on Chris Spencer. Against the Packers, the longest streak of positive plays was six. The Bears had 16 negative plays overall and at least one negative play on 10 of 11 possessions.
Updated: October 20, 2012 6:28AM
Trick plays have been a part of Bears lore since the 1933 NFL Championship Game, when, with the Bears trailing 21-16 in the fourth quarter, Bronko Nagurski faked a run up the middle, stopped suddenly and passed to end Bill Hewitt, who lateraled to end Bill Karr, who ran down the sideline to beat the Giants 23-21.
But despite that glory, Tom Crabtree’s 27-yard touchdown on a fake field goal in the Packers’ 23-10 victory over the Bears last week added to the team’s dubious history with trick plays. Walter Payton once threw two touchdown passes on halfback options against the Saints in 1983 — 56 and 21 yards to Willie Gault — and the Bears still lost 34-31 in overtime. In fact, Payton threw eight touchdown passes in his career. The Bears were 1-6 in those games.
Here’s a look at five memorable trick plays in Bears history:
◆ Sept. 16, 1973 — The Bears surprised Tom Landry’s Cowboys with a fake punt on fourth-and-two near midfield when up-back Bob Parsons took the snap and gained five yards for a first down. With the game tied at 17 in the fourth quarter, Bears coach Abe Gibron, perhaps thinking Cowboys rookie special-teams coach Mike Ditka would never expect a team to run the same fake twice, tried it again. But Billy Joe Dupree tackled Parsons for a three-yard loss with four minutes left. The Cowboys’ Toni Fritsch kicked a field goal with 1:26 to go, and the Cowboys won 20-17.
◆ Nov. 16, 1980 — The Oilers looked like they were settling for a chip-shot field goal by Fritsch late in the first half, but took a delay-of-game penalty to goad the Bears into going for a block. Instead, holder Gifford Nielsen threw a shovel pass to Tim Wilson, who ran it in for the only touchdown of the game in a 10-6 Oilers victory.
◆ Nov. 6, 1977 — The Bears were ready for Oilers noted big-play receiver/kick returner Billy ‘‘White Shoes’’ Johnson in a key spot late in the first half with the Bears trailing 10-0. ‘‘We even yelled, ‘Watch the reverse,’ ’’ Bears safety Gary Fencik said. But it was one of those days. Johnson took a reverse and went 61 yards for a touchdown that ignited a 47-0 rout that dropped the Bears to 3-5. Somehow, they recovered to win their last six games and made the playoffs.
◆ Dec. 23, 1979 — Trailing the Eagles 27-17 late in a playoff game, the Bears tried to run a hook-and-ladder play, with Mike Phipps passing to Rickey Watts, who would lateral to Dave Williams trailing the play. Unfortunately, Phipps’ pass was intercepted by the Eagles’ Herman Edwards.
◆ Dec. 10, 1971 — The Bears already had fooled the lowly Saints with a fake punt (Doug Buffone gained 19 yards for a first down), a halfback pass (Don Shy 23-yard touchdown pass to George Farmer) and a double reverse (Farmer 11-yard gain). Leading 35-7 in the third, they called for a fake field goal. Holder Bobby Douglass tripped and was apparently downed. But he got up and overthrew Willie Holman, who ended up getting in an altercation with Saints defensive back D’Artagnan Martin and ejected.