One of the more forgotten Super Bowl participants of the first 20 years are these 1985 New England Patriots. When you mention them most people scoff “well the Bears killed them!” Newsflash McFly, the ’85 Bears did that to everyone they faced going 18-1. What this team should be remembered for is laying the belief that if you can get hot at the end of the season, you can roll into the Super Bowl. They were the original road warriors having won 3 straight postseason road games to make it to Super Bowl XX.
Although they were coached by former Johnny Unitas receiver Raymond Berry, this was a conservative team that relied on the run and good defense. Craig James rushed for 1,227 yards and Tony Collins kicked in another 657. Collins had been a 1,000 yard rusher just a season before. They had a few proven pros in WR Stanley Morgan and part time QB Steve Grogan.
Why part time?? The maturation of young QB Tony Eason necessitated his insertion in the lineup when he struggled. Grogan bailed them out as a relief pitcher multiple times in ’85. Eason was a part of the curse of the ’83 draft, which we will cover later. However this team was good enough to win with spotty quarterback play.
The big reason is they fielded the 7th best defense in football led by Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett. He was the AFC Defensive Player of the year with 16.5 sacks, and of all the 3-4 Outside Linebackers he was the best in the NFL in ’85.
He was the enforcer on a defense that sent LB Steve Nelson, CB Raymond Clayborn, and S Fred Marion with him to the Pro Bowl.
They pulled off 3 straight road playoff upsets on the strength of causing 16 turnovers in 3 playoff games. The most notable were the 6 they forced Dan Marino and the Dolphins into in the AFC Championship Game. Miami was the defending AFC champion and had an 18 game winning streak against them in the Orange Bowl.
A truly monumental effort that shouldn’t be forgotten for coming up short in Super Bowl XX.
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