1985 Chicago Bears
Rules of football


The Question Answered
Appendix A
Annotated Bibliography
The Super Bowl Shuffle
Works Cited

On January 26, 1986, the Chicago Bears defeated the New England Patriots to capture the Super Bowl Championship. That capped off what was at the very least one of the most successful football seasons of all time, but it was, in fact, the end of the season for the greatest football team of all time. The 1985 Chicago Bears were as successful as they were because of their great players, record-breaking statistics, and winning attitude. The opposition to the Bears for this title is the 1972 Miami Dolphins, whose undefeated record has not been matched since in the National Football League (NFL).

To fully understand why the 1985 Chicago Bears are the greatest football team ever, one must know what each football player does on the field. There are three different units on a football team, the offense, defense, and special teams. The offense is the unit that is expected to score touchdowns (getting the football in the endzone). The two ways to move the ball down the field is by running the ball (rushing), or throwing the ball (passing). The offense is run by the quarterback. The quarterback is forcefully handed (snapped) the ball and he runs the play that was called by the offensive coordinator or head coach. The quarterback usually passes the ball to his wide receivers, running backs, or tight ends. Wide receivers are fast players who run down the field, waiting for the ball to be passed to them. Tight ends also catch the ball, but on other plays they help protect the quarterback or running back by blocking the opposing defense. Running backs do most of the rushing, which is accomplished by the quarterback handing the ball off to the running back. The quarterback and running back are protected by the offensive line, which are five large men who do nothing but keep defenders away. The only offensive lineman who does anything else is the center, who snaps the ball to the quarterback to begin the play.

The defense is basically the opposite of the offense. They need to tackle whoever has the ball in their possession before the opposing player can score a touchdown. Lining up against the offensive line is the defensive line. The defensive line is made up of defensive ends and defensive/nose tackles. These two positions differ in that the defensive ends usually try to tackle the quarterback before he can pass, which is called a "sack." Defensive/nose tackles can try to sack the quarterback, but they mostly try to tackle the running back when they are rushing the ball. The difference between defensive tackles and nose tackles is the type of defense the team is running. If they play four defensive linemen and three linebackers, there are two defensive tackles. However, if they play three defensive linemen and four linebackers, there is one nose tackle in between the two defensive ends. Linebackers play behind the defensive line, and their main goal is also to tackle the running back. On pass plays, they can rush the quarterback and try to sack him, or they can drop back and try to intercept the ball. An interception occurs when the quarterbacks pass is caught by the defensive player instead of the offensive player. Behind the linebackers are defensive backs. Two different positions make up the defensive backs, also known as "the secondary." Cornerbacks begin on the line of scrimmage (the yard line where the play begins) and guard the wide receivers. Safeties stand in the middle of the field, usually quite far back from the line of scrimmage. Their main objective is to intercept the ball and tackle the players if they are able to get past the linemen and linebackers, but cornerbacks usually just try to intercept the ball or keep it from the receiver.

The final unit is called special teams. Special teams are everything besides the offense and defense. They are the kicker, who kicks field goals and points after touchdowns; the punter, who is called on to kick the ball away if the offense is faced with a fourth down; and kick returners, who run the ball as far as they can after punts or kickoffs. Kickoffs occur after the opposing team scores, so they kick the ball to the other team so they can begin their offensive drive. The final part of the special teams is a group of players who block for the kick returners, usually dubbed "special teamers." These three units work together to try to win the football game.

Like any sport, there are rules put in place to make sure the game is played fairly. Before the game begins, there is a coin flip to decide who will kick and who will receive the kick. After the kick return, the offense takes the field. The offense has four plays, or "downs," to gain ten yards. If they fail to gain ten yards on three plays, they must punt the ball to the other team, or "go for it" on fourth down. This is risky because if they fail to get a first down on that play, then the other team gets the ball at that spot. If the offense does not need to punt, they go down the field to score. The offense can score by touchdown or field goal. A touchdown is worth six points, plus a chance at an extra point by kicking the ball through the uprights from the 2-yard line. It is also possible to get two points by running a single play from the 2-yard line. To score a field goal, the kicker must attempt to kick the ball through the uprights, but from whatever yard line the ball rests at when they decide to kick the field goal. The defense can score by tackling the player with the ball in the opposite endzone, which is called a safety. A safety is scored as two points for the defense, and then the offense must kick off from the 20-yard line. At any point a player may lose control of the ball and drop it. This is called a fumble, and whoever recovers the ball gains possession.

Of course, then there are the many infractions that players commit, called penalties. There are many, probably the most committed being the "false start," or an offensive player flinching or beginning the play before the ball is snapped. The defense can commit this too, which is called "offside." If the receiver or the player guarding them interferes with the opponent, pass interference may be called, which is also a common penalty. Close plays are now monitored by the infamous instant replay rule. Each team receives several play reviews per game, in which the head referee views many angles of the play in slow motion to determine whether the ruling is correct or incorrect. If the ruling stands, then the challenging team loses a timeout, but if the ruling is overturned, then they are not charged a timeout and the play is "corrected." The unfortunate side of this rule is that it seems most of the time the referees fail to make the correct call anyway. Instant replay should be abolished immediately, but that is a different topic. After four quarters of fifteen minutes each, the game is over, and obviously whoever has more points is the victor.