HAWL IN: About January 26th for the Bears

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Bears head coach Mike Ditka is carried off the field by his team following the Bears' 46-10 win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XX on January 26, 1986.

CHICAGO – The moment was so good, so dominating, so enthralling, it lives on strong over three decades later.

Those remember where they were, who they watched it with, and if they did “The Super Bowl Shuffle” when the contest finally came to an end. The proper coronation for the best team in the NFL during the 1985 season came on the 26th day of 1986.

The 46-10 crushing of the Patriots by the Bears in Super Bowl XX is being celebrated once against on Saturday, as many fans reminisce about the team’s last NFL championship. Yet as people look back on the moment 33 years ago, they do so, at times, with some mixed feelings.

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Of course, there is pure joy.

It’s arguably the greatest moment in the history of the near century-old franchise. It was the team’s ninth NFL championship, the first of the Super Bowl era, and finished a year where the team won 18 of the 19 games they played.

Their dominant defense, the legend of Walter Payton, along with the charisma the team played with makes them one of the best in the history of the league. Having such a dominant performance to finish it off – a then Super Bowl record 36 point margin of victory with seven sacks and six turnovers – made it so perfect.

When fans bring up the most dominant performances in the big game, this will always come up.

Yet at the same time, there is a bit of lament.

It’s been 33 years since the Bears won a championship – 33 years!

Despite the dominance of that particular group, that era never got another title. Mike Ditka got the Bears to the NFC Championship in January 1989 but never got back to a Super Bowl before he was fired after the 1992 season.

Dave Wannstedt got the Bears to the Divisional Round once. Dick Jauron’s surprising – almost stunning – 13-3 2001 Bears couldn’t win a playoff game. Lovie Smith led the teamĀ  to Super Bowl XLI, where they lost in a rainstorm to the Colts, and got them back to the NFC Championship game in 2010. Yet the failure of the 2011 and 2012 teams to even make the playoffs led to his ouster.

Marc Trestman and John Fox weren’t had no luck when it came to just making it to the postseason, though the latter was there to facilitate a rebuild for new general manager Ryan Pace.

It’s frustrating to think the team has only six playoff wins since January 26, 1986. The 16-15 loss to the Eagles in this year’s Wild Card playoff game only adds more to that angst. It’s forced fans to hold onto this moment 33 years ago, putting it on a pedestal to look up to without another moment to top it.

But this year is a bit different from some of the more recent anniversaries.

Yes, the ending was miserable, but the Bears will return one of their best teams in a decade nearly in full in 2019.

That’s a group that went 12-4, and one that’s going to have a full year under Matt Nagy’s more complex offense. Vic Fangio left for Denver’s head coaching position, but nearly the entire defense is expected to come back, and Chuck Pagano has experience with handling an elite defense in year one (see 2011 Ravens).

This is hope that’s been there before, but not recently. Not since the beginning of the decade has the Bears or their fans looking forward to a season where it’s plausible to envision a Super Bowl run.

It’s a guarantee that the team will celebrate the 34th anniversary of Super Bowl XX without another championship. That’s because Super Bowl LIV will be played on February 2, 2020.

Perhaps in a year, the team will be finishing up their work in Lake Forest before heading to South Florida, hoping to add a new anniversary for Bears fans to remember forever.

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