Chicago Bears Coach Mike Ditka has had plenty of emotional moments on the sideline, but this was one occasion in which he didn't have to go into a frenzy to inspire his team.
Roaming the sideline Sunday for the first time since his heart attack 11 days earlier, Ditka watched the Bears use short touchdown runs by Mike Tomczak and Matt Suhey to take a 20-0 halftime lead en route to an easy 34-14 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins.Bears defensive coordinator Vince Tobin handled most of the coaching duties, but Ditka gave a pre-game speech and, for the most part, stayed in the thick of things in front of the Chicago bench. It was an appearance that proved to be inspirational.
"There was a lot of emotion out there," Tomczak said. "We said, `Hey, Coach Ditka's a fighter. We're all fighters.' "
During the second quarter, Ditka sat on the bench and had his pulse rate taken after his wife, Diana, asked the coach's physician to check on him. Ditka remained seated, drinking fluids for most of the period, but returned to roam the sideline just before the half and for the rest of the game.
Ditka said he got "a little tired" in the first half after being slightly weakened by the sun. But it didn't effect his magic.
"Ditka is the heart and soul of the Chicago Bears," safety Dave Duerson said. "It was kind of special seeing him there . . . he doesn't have to stand up and coach (because) he has a tremedous presence."
The triumph enabled the Bears, 9-2, to gain a measure of revenge from the Redskins, who had eliminated them from the playoffs in each of the past two seasons.
Chicago limited Washington, 6-5, to a mere 49 yards in the decisive first half and forced starting quarterback Doug Williams out of the game early in the third quarter.
Williams, working under constant pressure by the league's top-ranked defense, completed only six of 19 passes for 69 yards. His replacement, Mark Rypien, threw touchdown passes to Ricky Sanders and Gary Clark but suffered four interceptions.
"Right now we're just not playing good enough football to beat a good football team like the Bears," Washington coach Joe Gibbs said.
After hearing a pre-game speech from Ditka in which the coach uncharacteristically focused on the offense instead of the defense, Tomczak drove the Bears to a touchdown on their first possession.
Starting his second straight game for the injured Jim McMahon, Tomczak accounted for all 76 yards in the six-play drive. He threw two passes to Dennis Gentry for 63 yards and ended the march himself with a quarterback sneak.
Chicago made it 14-0 in the second quarter when Suhey capped an 80-yard drive with a 3-yard run.