It’s 1985 on NFL Thursday this week, and we are not performing the Super Bowl Shuffle for you. Sorry! But we do have some fun award analyses in store, nonetheless. We look at a blowout Super Bowl and its MVP, followed by the ROTY field, which includes an all-time great and a lot of nobodies. Just the way the cookie crumbles some years …
(And if you’re curious, check out our first miniseries entry on this year for context.)
Super Bowl XX MVP: Richard Dent, DE, Chicago (original); Jim McMahon, QB, Chicago (revised)
The Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl with a huge 46-10 win over the New England Patriots in a game that wasn’t even that close. New England gained just 123 total yards while turning the ball over 6 times and possessing the ball for only 20:45 of game time. Bears defensive end Richard Dent was named the MVP for forcing two fumbles, notching 1.5 sacks, and generally being an overall menace to the Pats O.
But 5 players for Chicago registered at least 1 sack, while 2 other players had interceptions. Generally, overall this was a huge full-unit effort, as befitting the fearsome “46” defense that achieved so much notoriety. Singling out Dent seems a little strange to us. Offensively, the Bears MVP would have been quarterback Jim McMahon: 256 passing yards and 2 rushing TDs, with no turnovers.
The Chicago offense ran for just 3.1 yards per carry, so McMahon’s passing yardage was key—especially on just 20 attempts. Wide receiver Willie Gault hauled in 4 catches for 129 yards, proving to be to the big playmaker, but overall, McMahon completed passes to 6 different receivers. We’re going against the grain here—again—and picking the punky QB as the MVP. So, we think the voters are just 7-for-20 now.
1985 NFL ROTY: Eddie Brown, WR, Cincinnati & Duane Bickett, LB, Indianapolis (original); Kevin Mack, RB, Cleveland (revised)
We have some fun candidates for the ROTY nod, starting with Cleveland Browns running back Kevin Mack (1,401 scrimmage yards and 10 TDs), Cincinnati WR Eddie Brown (1,071 yards and 8 TDs), and San Francisco 49ers WR Jerry Rice (953 yards and 4 TDs). Brown won the offensive vote, although the Bengals finished behind the Browns in the AFC Central Division and missed the playoffs.
Defensively, we also consider Indianapolis Colts linebacker Duane Bickett (6 sacks, 2, FR, 1 INT, 1 FF) and Patriots DE Garin Veris (10 sacks, 2 FR). Bickett won the defensive vote, despite the Colts’ 5-win effort. This leaves us, really, with Mack, Rice, and Veris—and the 49ers were the defending champions, so Rice didn’t bring much to the team as S.F. actually regressed from 15 wins to just 10 victories.
With the Browns beating out the Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers by just 1 win to claim the AFC Central, it’s hard for anyone to top Mack here. Cleveland improved 3 wins from the year before, although the Patriots did improve 2 wins themselves to claim the final AFC playoff spot at 11-5, despite finishing third in the AFC East. The Pats won a tiebreak over the 11-5 Denver Broncos.
Those are razor-thin margins for each team, but we like Mack’s contributions to the Browns—a team that actually was outscored on the season by 7 points—because without his yardage and TDs, there is no way Cleveland makes the playoffs. The same could be said of Veris’ sacks, but he was more of a one-dimensional player than Mack—and had better teammate support, as well. So, Mack gets our nod here.
Check in every Thursday for our NFL awards historical analysis on The Daily McPlay!