Saturday, February 12, 2011

Washington Redskins at Chicago Bears, October 6, 1991

Man, I don't know about you, but I'm already missing football. Also, with labor talks breaking down and a possible lookout looming more than ever, we may not see NFL football for a while. So, all weekend long, I have decided to watch a game each day and review it. Today's post is about the week 6 game in 1991 between the Chicago Bears (4-1) versus the Washington Redskins (5-0), a game that featured four future Hall of Famers, two Super Bowl winning coaches, the former and current coach of the San Francisco 49ers, and Matt Millen.  At the end of day, it was the Redskins that would emerge victorious, by a 20-7 margin. Here are a few notes about this game:

- The stars of this game were the Washington Redskins defense, particularly their defensive line. Bears QB Jim Harbaugh had no time to throw all day long and took tremendous hits thanks to the pressure from DTs Tim Johnson and Eric Williams, as well as DE Charles Mann. In an attempt to put more pressure on Harbaugh, the 'Skins would often line up Mann inside across from Bears C Jay Hilgenberg, and for most of the first half Hilgenberg just couldn't handle him before eventually slowing him down in the second half. Even though Harbaugh took lots of hits, the Bears never made an adjustment by keeping an extra back in to block or putting Harbaugh in the shotgun until late in the game. As a result, Harbaugh was rushed into making some terrible throws and finished the day 17-41 with three interceptions. Harbaugh was so rattled that on one play, he kept dropping back before finally floating a pass in the air attended for RB Neal Anderson, but LB Kurt Gouveia just waited for the ball to come down and picked it off easily. Needless to say, it was not Harbaugh's finest day.

- Even though the Redskins won 20-7 and were only up 10-7 at the end of the third quarter, the score does not illustrate how much they outplayed the Bears in this game. In fact, the Redskins could have had two more touchdowns had Mark Rypien been more accurate. In the first quarter, WR Gary Clark had CB Leumel Stinson beat downfield, but Rypien underthrew it and Stinston picked it off at the five yard line. In the third quarter, Clark once again beat his man downfield, but this time Rypien rushed his throw despite nobody being around him and overthrew his man. I will say that Rypien played a decent game, though he received a lot of help from Clark and WR Art Monk. Monk in particular had a strong game, catching two touchdown passes and making a key catch on fourth down despite taking not one, but two hard hits from Bears secondary players. Monk's stats weren't that impressive (6 catches, 69 yards), but he had the biggest individual impact on the game and played like, well, a Hall of Famer.

- Rypien was also a lot more mobile then I remember him being. Sure, he wasn't Michael Vick like, but for a big guy Rypien could move back in the pocket. One of the keys to the Redskins offense getting on track was Rypien's ability to roll out of the pocket to the right and buying him extra time to find a receiver. That way, not only could Rypien buy more time, but it also moved the play away from Bears DE Richard Dent, and it didn't hurt that the 'Skins had All-Pros Mark Schlerth and Joe Jacoby on the right side and that the Bears were without their other defensive end, Trace Armstrong.

- While Harbaugh didn't have the best game, he didn't get a lot of help either. The Redskins kept Anderson in check for most of the game, holding the back for 73 yards. A bigger problem for Harbaugh was the drops by his receivers, as the Bears dropped five passes in the first half. The biggest came in the first quarter where Harbaugh had Wendell Davis wide open at midfield and threw a perfect strike, only for Davis to drop it. Davis may not have scored on the play, but he had enough room to get at least in field goal range, and the whole game might have changed had Davis held on to that ball.

- For a while, it looked as if the referees were going to take over the game, as there were eight penalties called in the first quarter alone. Some were legitimate, but each team had a big run taken back on holding calls that were borderline at best, and all the penalties really slowed the game's pace to a crawl and took the Bears' crowd out of the game. Speaking of which, John Madden would constantly express his surprise at the lack of noise the Bears fans were making, considering they were playing at home against a top-notch opponent. Eventually, this lethargy carried over to the Bears, who played with a lack of urgency and spark all game long. Even coach Mike Ditka was surprisingly calm as his team made mistake after mistake.

- The game was called by Pat Summerall and John Madden, which is always a good thing, unless the game is over and Madden blabs about whatever just happens to be on his mind at the time. He spent an entire minute talking about Redskins LB Matt Millen and how the number 57 just didn't suit Millen. In Madden's mind, 57 was too long a number. I have no idea what he meant by that, but that's what he said.

So that's that. After this game, the Redskins would win their next five games before finally losing to the Cowboys, then the Redskins would go on to win the Super Bowl against the Buffalo Bills. The Bears would finish 1991 at 11-5, but lost to the Dallas Cowboys in what turned out to be the final playoff game Mike Ditka would coach, unless he decides to come back in the future, which seems unlikely. At the end of the day, the Bears just didn't have enough firepower to overtake the challenging Redskins' defense, and despite some shaky play from Mark Rypien and a running game that was ineffective, the Redskins made this game look easy. Well, thanks for reading, and if you any ideas for future posts, or thoughts about this post, than either leave a comment on the blog or send them to me at e-mail at

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