12/02/1985 - Dolphins hand '85 Bears lone loss
Coming off back-to-back shutout-victories against the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons, the 12-0 Chicago Bears were aiming to become the first team since the 1972 Dolphins to finish with a perfect record. It was week 13 and Chicago's opponent was that very Miami team, who hoped to retain the legacy of the '72 Dolphins by handing the Bears a loss. Miami had won 17 of 18 games and had made it to the Super Bowl the year before; if they couldn't beat Chicago on their own field, no one would.
The epic telecast between the Dolphins and Bears was carried on Monday Night Football and remains the most watched regular season game in history. A colossal 70 million viewers tuned in to ABC, a number that no other regular season NFL, NBA, or MLB game will has ever come close to matching.
Those watching to see Bears' victory No. 13 were short-ended by Miami's No. 13 -- Dan Marino. The Dolphins' QB exploited the defense throughout by connecting with Nat Moore, the Dolphins' third receiver, while Ron Davenport contributed by rushing for a pair of touchdowns. The Bears defense, which is still considered one of the greatest units ever, had held nine of their previous twelve opponents under ten points. Miami scored on their first five drives and led at halftime 31-10.
"We were more concerned about the business at hand of trying to continue winning and have the best record in the AFC," Moore said. Indeed, a loss would have dropped the Dolphins to third place in their own division.
In the locker room, Mike Ditka nearly came to blows with defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan on why a linebacker was covering Moore. When Ryan refused to switch to a cornerback, Ditka recalled saying, "We can do it any way you want to. We can go right out back and get it on or you can shape your ass up." Ryan left to coach the Eagles the following year.
Chicago looked better in the second half, though it wasn't enough to overcome the onslaught suffered in the first thirty minutes. The game ended with Miami winning it 38-24: it was the Bears only loss of the season. Had Chicago managed to pull out a win, they would've stolen the '72 Dolphins mantle as the greatest team of all time. They're one of the greatest, there's no doubt, but with one loss on their resume, it's still up for interpretation.