1984 Chicago Bears season
OwnerThe McCaskey Family
Head coachMike Ditka
General managerJerry Vainisi
Home fieldSoldier Field
Division place1st NFC Central
Playoff finishWon Divisional Playoffs (at Redskins) 23–19
Lost NFC Championship (at 49ers) 0–23
Pro Bowlers
AP All-Pros

The 1984 season was the Chicago Bears' 65th in the National Football League the 15th post-season completed in the NFL, and their third under head coach Mike Ditka. The team improved from their 8–8 record from 1983, to a 10–6 record, earning them a spot in the NFL playoffs. The Bears went on to lose in the NFC Championship Game 23–0 to the eventual Super Bowl Champion San Francisco 49ers.

This was the first of five consecutive NFC Central titles for the Bears. They opened their 1984 training camp in a new location, Platteville, Wisconsin as head coach Mike Ditka needed his team to get away from any distractions they might face at home. The team was on the verge of discovering a group of young leaders for the first time, and began to show the dominating defense that would emerge in full the following season, and pushed much farther than anyone expected them to go.

Chicago opened the season by routing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 34–14. In Week Two, they shut out the Denver Broncos 27–0 behind a huge day from star running back Walter Payton. This game featured a famous image from Payton's career: a 50+ yard run down the sideline, led by 2nd-year guard Mark Bortz, an 8th round draft pick that was converted from defensive tackle.

In Week Three, they were without the services of starting quarterback Jim McMahon at Green Bay, reserve quarterback Bob Avellini took the reins. Chicago's offense performed inferiorly but still managed a 9–7 victory. This contest marked the first meeting between Mike Ditka and Packers head coach Forrest Gregg. It would be a rivalry that would go down in history as arguably the dirtiest era in Chicago-Green Bay football.[citation needed]

In Week Four, the Bears' lack of offensive power was evident as they lost to the Seattle Seahawks 38–9. After this loss, Ditka cut Avellini. The following week, the Bears lost to the Dallas Cowboys 23–14, bringing their record to 3–2.

On October 7, 1984, Walter Payton reached a major milestone as he surpassed Jim Brown as the game's all-time leading rusher in yards, he did it in the third quarter of a Week Six home game against the New Orleans Saints. The Bears beat the Saints 20–7. Incidentally, the 1984 Bears ran for the second-most rushing attempts in a season, with 674.[3]

In Week Seven, the Bears lost 38–21 to the Cardinals in St. Louis the following week. Sitting at 4–3, the Bears proceeded to win three in a row. They beat Tampa Bay 44–9, then Minnesota Vikings at home, 16–7. Following the win over the Minnesota Vikings, came the biggest challenge for the Bears: a showdown with the defending world champion Los Angeles Raiders. The Bears beat the Raiders 17–6, a game that showcased Richard Dent, who collected three sacks against Raiders QB Marc Wilson. Dent would finish with 17.5 sacks, third-most for the season behind Mark Gastineau and Andre Tippett.[4] The Bears would then record 72 sacks, a team record.[5] The Bears' victory was marred by a kidney laceration suffered by Jim McMahon, ending his season.

Six-year veteran QB Steve Fuller had been acquired from the Los Angeles Rams prior to the 1984 season for insurance in case McMahon was injured. The investment paid off, as Fuller guided the Bears to a 2–1 record over the next 3 games. In the third game at Minnesota's new Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Week Thirteen, the team clinched its first NFC Central Division title.

After the Minnesota game, Fuller was injured, and Chicago was faced with another quarterback problem. Ineffective Rusty Lisch replaced the injured Fuller and lost the Week Fourteen game at San Diego, then started the following week against Green Bay at home. Lisch was again ineffective, so Ditka inserted none other than Walter Payton behind center in the shotgun formation. Payton, unsurprisingly, was ineffective as well, and the Bears lost to the Packers 20–14.

Fuller was expected to return by the playoffs, but Ditka did not want to enter the postseason with another loss. The Bears signed 14-year journeyman Greg Landry to start his last NFL game against his previous team, the Detroit Lions, in the season finale. The Bears won 30–13, and were headed to the playoffs for the first time since 1979.

1984 NFL Draft

Main article: 1984 NFL Draft

1984 Chicago Bears draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 11 Wilber Marshall *  Linebacker Florida
2 44 Ron Rivera  Linebacker California
3 71 Stefan Humphries  Guard Michigan
4 98 Tom Andrews  Guard Louisville
7 179 Nakita Robertson  Running back Central Arkansas
8 212 Brad Anderson  Wide receiver Arizona
9 244 Mark Casale  Quarterback Montclair State
10 266 Kurt Vestman  Tight end Idaho
10 271 Shaun Gayle *  Safety Ohio State
11 298 Mark Butkus  Defensive tackle Illinois
12 330 Donald Jordan  Running back Houston
      Made roster    †   Pro Football Hall of Fame    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career


Walter Payton (34), pictured breaking the NFL's career rushing record
Walter Payton (34), pictured breaking the NFL's career rushing record
Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue
1 August 4, 1984 St. Louis Cardinals L 10–19 0–1 Soldier Field
2 August 11, 1984 Green Bay Packers L 10–17 0–2 Milwaukee County Stadium
3 August 18, 1984 Cincinnati Bengals L 17–25 0–3 Soldier Field
4 August 26, 1984 Buffalo Bills W 38–7 1–3 Hoosier Dome

Regular season


Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance
1 September 2, 1984 Tampa Bay Buccaneers W 34–14 1–0 Soldier Field 58,789
2 September 9, 1984 Denver Broncos W 27–0 2–0 Soldier Field 54,335
3 September 16, 1984 at Green Bay Packers W 9–7 3–0 Lambeau Field 55,942
4 September 23, 1984 at Seattle Seahawks L 38–9 3–1 Kingdome 61,520
5 September 30, 1984 Dallas Cowboys L 23–14 3–2 Soldier Field 63,623
6 October 7, 1984 New Orleans Saints W 20–7 4–2 Soldier Field 53,752
7 October 14, 1984 at St. Louis Cardinals L 38–21 4–3 Busch Memorial Stadium 49,554
8 October 21, 1984 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers W 44–9 5–3 Tampa Stadium 60,003
9 October 28, 1984 Minnesota Vikings W 16–7 6–3 Soldier Field 57,517
10 November 4, 1984 Los Angeles Raiders W 17–6 7–3 Soldier Field 59,858
11 November 11, 1984 at Los Angeles Rams L 29–13 7–4 Anaheim Stadium 62,021
12 November 18, 1984 Detroit Lions W 16–14 8–4 Soldier Field 54,911
13 November 25, 1984 at Minnesota Vikings W 34–3 9–4 Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome 56,881
14 December 3, 1984 at San Diego Chargers L 20–7 9–5 Jack Murphy Stadium 45,470
15 December 9, 1984 Green Bay Packers L 20–14 9–6 Soldier Field 59,374
16 December 16, 1984 at Detroit Lions W 30–13 10–6 Pontiac Silverdome 53,252


NFC Central
Chicago Bears(3) 10 6 0 .625 7–1 8–4 325 248 W1
Green Bay Packers 8 8 0 .500 5–3 8–4 390 309 W3
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6 10 0 .375 3–5 5–9 335 380 W2
Detroit Lions 4 11 1 .281 3–5 4–7–1 283 408 L3
Minnesota Vikings 3 13 0 .188 2–6 3–9 276 484 L6

Game summaries

Week 2: vs. Denver Broncos

The Bears limited the Broncos to 130 total yards as three different Denver quarterbacks (John Elway, Gary Kubiak, and Scott Stankavage) completed just nine passes with two interceptions. Seven different Bears players led by Walter Payton rushed for 302 yards.

Week 3: at Green Bay Packers

1 2 34Total
Bears 3 3 039
Packers 0 7 007

at Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin

  • Date: Sunday, September 16
  • Game time: 12:00 p.m.
  • Game weather: 50 °F, wind 9 mph
  • Referee: Pat Haggerty
  • TV announcers (CBS): Pat Summerall and John Madden
  • Pro-Football-Reference.com
Game information

Week 4: at Seattle Seahawks

1 2 34Total
Bears 7 0 029
Seahawks 7 3 21738

at Kingdome, Seattle, Washington

Game information

Six Bears turnovers and a 21-0 run by the Seahawks in the 3rd quarter were the key as Chicago's season-opening win streak was blunted, 38-9. The two teams combined for just 504 yards of offense with 22 penalties eating up 181 yards.

Week 5: vs. Dallas Cowboys

1 2 34Total
Cowboys 10 7 3323
Bears 7 7 0014

at Soldier Field, Chicago

Game information

Mike Ditka for the first time as Bears head coach faced Tom Landry, who'd coached Ditka in Super Bowl VI. Landry's Cowboys were outgained in yardage 313 to 400 but forced two Bears turnovers to win 23-14. The Bears rushing attack still managed 283 yards.

Week 6: vs. New Orleans Saints

1 2 34Total
Saints 0 7 007
Bears 6 7 0720

at Soldier Field, Chicago

  • Date: Sunday, October 7
  • Game time: 12:00 p.m.
  • Game weather: 62 °F, wind 11 mph
  • Game attendance: 53,752
  • Referee: Bob McElwee
  • TV announcers (CBS): Tim Ryan and Johnny Morris
  • Pro-Football-Reference.com
Game information

Walter Payton ran for 154 yards and a touchdown on his way to breaking Jim Brown's career rushing yardage and 100-yard games records.[6]

Week 9: vs. Minnesota Vikings

1 2 34Total
Vikings 0 0 077
Bears 6 10 0016

at Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois

Game information

Week 10: vs. Los Angeles Raiders

1 2 34Total
Raiders 0 3 306
Bears 7 7 0317

at Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois

Game information

Week 11

1 234Total
• Bears 7 10170 34
Vikings 3 000 3


Week 15: vs. Green Bay Packers

1 2 34Total
Packers 0 7 6720
Bears 0 0 7714

at Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois

Game information


See full article, 1984–85 NFL playoffs

The first-round matchup sent the 10–6 Bears to Washington, a team that had lost to the Los Angeles Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII. Washington was heavily favored, but Chicago came away with a 23–19 victory that featured touchdown passes from Fuller, as well as Payton on a halfback option pass.

With the momentum of defeating the defending NFC champions, the Bears then travelled to San Francisco for their first appearance in a championship game of any sort since their championship year in 1963. The line for the game came down steadily as the week wore on, but the Bears were shut out 23–0. Fuller had performed poorly in games against tough opponents, and the offense sputtered as the 49ers were able to render Walter Payton ineffective. The team had gone farther than many had expected them to go in 1984, and the season set the stage for their Super Bowl winning 1985 season.


Further information: 1984–85 NFL playoffs

Round Date Opponent Result Venue Attendance
Divisional Round December 30, 1984 at Washington Redskins W 23–19 Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium 55,431
NFC Championship January 6, 1985 at San Francisco 49ers L 23–0 Candlestick Park 61,040

December 30, 1984

NFC: Chicago Bears 23, Washington Redskins 19

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Bears 0 10 13023
Redskins 3 0 14219

at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, Washington, D.C.

January 6, 1985

NFC Championship: San Francisco 49ers 23, Chicago Bears 0

Game summary
1 2 34Total
Bears 0 0 000
49ers 3 3 71023

at Candlestick Park, San Francisco

Roster and staff


1984 Chicago Bears staff
Front office

Head coaches

Offensive coaches

Defensive coaches

Strength and conditioning

  • Assistant trainer – Brian McCaskey
  • Weightlifting/Strength – Clyde Emrich


1984 Chicago Bears final roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Practice squad

Rookies in italics


  1. ^ "1984 NFL Pro Bowlers". Pro-Football-Reference.com.
  2. ^ "1984 NFL All-Pros". Pro-Football-Reference.com.
  3. ^ "Pro-Football-Reference.com: In a single season, from 1978 to 2011, in the regular season, sorted by descending Rushing Att". Pfref.com. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
  4. ^ "Pro-Football-Reference: For single seasons, in 1984, sorted by descending Sacks". Pfref.com. Retrieved 2012-09-28.
  5. ^ "Does Cutler play better in day games?". Chicagobears.com. Archived from the original on 2012-10-01. Retrieved 2012-09-28.
  6. ^ "Walter Payton broke Jim Brown's NFL career rushing record". UPI. October 7, 1984. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  7. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Oct-28.