The day Walter Payton made the Vikings pay

Wanda Wiedman, Chicago Bears Reporter

By Wanda Wiedman // @WandaW63

November 20, 1977. The Chicago Bears were coming off a last second, come from behind 28-27 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. They were 4-5 entering Week 10 and the Bears would face the division rival Minnesota Vikings.

The field was damp and although the temperature was mild for late November, the Windy City hosted 25-30 mph winds from the south to play havoc on the Bears passing game.

Running back Walter Payton carried the ball 33 times against the Chiefs the previous week, rushing for 192 yards and three touchdowns.

Though Payton was battling flu-like symptoms that day, he made it seem effortless in what would be his career day.

The Bears won the coin toss and Payton’s magic started immediately. His first carry of the day took him on a return to the right side for 29 yards. He then ran for 43 yards in the next three carries but ended with a stalled first drive and a failed fake field goal attempt, turning the ball over to the Vikings.

Payton continued to dominate the run game throughout the day. The Bears led the first half 10-0 with a 1-yard rushing TD by Sweetness and a late field goal. Quarterback Bob Avellini managed to attempt one pass the entire first half and that one completion was to non-other than Payton which was good for 6 yards. Payton had 26 carries and 144 yards at the break.

After Minnesota blocked a punt and returned it for a TD early in the third quarter, the Bears were clinging to a three-point lead. However, late in the third quarter, Minnesota, with the wind at their back had the ball inside Chicago’s five-yard line. On 3 and goal, linebacker Tom Hicks intercepted a Bob Lee pass, preserving the Bears meager three-point lead.

But late in the fourth quarter, the Bears still holding on to that 10-7 lead, opened the field as Payton broke off for his longest run of the day. He took off to the right side and carried the ball deep into Vikings territory. That 59-yard run set up his history-making day. On his 40th carry of the day, on 4th and goal, from the six-yard line, Payton rushed for four yards in what would end in 275-yards for the day.

The Bears defense was stellar all day and did not let the Vikings pass the mid-field mark on their last drive, defeating the Vikings 10-7 moving them just a game behind Minnesota. The Bears, who had started the season 3-5 would not lose another game during the regular season, making the playoffs for the first time since their NFL championship in 1963.

The New Monsters of the Midway are heading into Week 11 on top of the NFC North with a 6-3 record. Since the game against the Vikings and Bears has been flexed to Sunday Night, why not give the Bears a little Payton magic. Below is a tweet from a Bears fan who has a great idea:

Let’s honor Sweetness and let’s win this for Chicago!

#BearDown #DaBears #Payton34 #CHIvsMIN

Talk Bears football with Wanda on Twitter // @WandaW63

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