Mike Ditka paced up and down one sideline, seething and snarling. Doug Flutie smiled on the other side of the field.
Ditka, the Chicago Bears' intense coach, had turned from one quarterback to a second and then, in desperation and anger, to a third. The first got hurt, the second and third hurt their team. There was no fourth quarterback to turn to.That player had been traded. That player was Doug Flutie.
Three quarterbacks - Jim McMahon, Mike Tomczak and Jim Harbaugh - couldn't bring the Bears a victory on Sunday. Flutie, the quarterback for whom there was no room in Chicago, did that for New England.
He had outlasted and outplayed them all.
Flutie threw a career high four touchdown passes in the Patriots' shocking 30-7 domination of the NFL's top-ranked defense.
"I'm just thankful I'm playing in New England," said Flutie, the 1984 Heisman Trophy winner from Boston College. "I never talked about revenge."
Think Chicago could find room for him now?
McMahon, whose shoulder problems prompted Chicago to obtain Flutie in October 1986, said at the time that the Bears already had enough quarterbacks. He never got along with the newcomer.
Ditka, a Flutie fan, finally agreed and Flutie was traded to New England in October 1987.
But today, the last day of October 1988, McMahon has a knee injury that will sideline him at least four weeks. Tomczak and Harbaugh have their failings and Ditka's frenzy to consider.
There are no treats for that quarterback trio on this Halloween. Flutie, the ghost from the past, saw to that.
Earlier this season, McMahon had dubbed the 5-foot-9 Flutie "America's midget."
Flutie brushed it off as McMahon just being McMahon, but Chicago center Jay Hilgenberg said, "I'm sure it inspired them (the Patriots) and Flutie played like it did.
"You've got to hand it to Doug Flutie," said Hilgenberg, who used to snap the ball to him. "He was hot and had a great game."
"Flutie played well," Harbaugh said. "He is a good quarterback."
"The kid is a competitor," said Chicago linebacker Mike Singletary. "That's one thing I've always liked about him."
The Bears were in the game until McMahon went out of it with his injury about two minutes into the second quarter. Tomczak took over and played until Ditka had seen enough. Then it was Harbaugh's turn to aggravate his coach.
With about 10 minutes left in the third quarter and New England ahead 20-7, Tomczak overthrew a receiver and got yanked after having thrown completions that gained 44 yards on the two previous plays. He went to the sidelines and had a heated discussion with Ditka.
Two plays later, Harbaugh threw an incompletion and got benched. On the next play, a fourth down, Tomczak again overthrew an open receiver. This time, he walked straight to the bench without talking to his frustrated coach and threw his helmet.
Uh-oh, what would Ditka do?
He paced, perhaps trying to cool off. Then he advanced slowly on the seated Tomczak, knelt, raised a finger toward his quarterback and pounded the ground. Then he walked away.
On the next play, Flutie threw a 19-yard completion to Irving Fryar.
"We call plays, they're to be executed," Ditka said. "People were open. Get the ball to them. If people can't I'll switch and I'll keep switching if I have to go back and switch to somebody who is not even here."
McMahon completed 2 of 6 passes for four yards, Tomczak 5 of 13 for 70 and Harbaugh none of his five.
"We just have to get better," Harbaugh said of the quarterbacks. McMahon wouldn't comment. Tomczak couldn't be found.
Flutie talked at length.
"I'm not as hated out there (Chicago) as most people believe," he said.
He said he didn't talk with Ditka or McMahon after the game.
If he had spoken with McMahon, he said, he would have asked, "how's your knee?"
And Ditka? Flutie could have asked about his blood pressure. And, if he were brave enough, he might have inquired, "any room for me now, coach?"