Bears Rewind: Washington Comes to Soldier Field for 1986 NFC Divisional Round Game

The Bears will play the Washington Commanders for the first time since the name change on Thursday Night Football, so this week’s Bears Rewind will feature the Washington Football Team’s previous moniker. I went with the 1986 NFC Divisional Round game between the Bears and Redskins. Yes, the Bears lost that game, but there were still some pretty interesting things in the game.

For instance, many people these days might not know that Doug Flutie started his NFL career with the Bears. Heck, some people these days might not even know who Doug Flutie is. After spending a season in the USFL with the New York Generals, the former Boston College quarterback landed in Chicago after the Rams traded their rights to Flutie to the Bears in October of 1986. Flutie would play in four regular season games with the Bears in 1986 and start this playoff game due to an injury to Jim McMahon.

You’ll see Walter Payton in this game, though not in one of his best performances. You’ll also get to see some of the legendary pieces of the Bears’ Super Bowl XX defense. Also making an appearance is rookie safety Todd Bowles (now the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). Bowles signed with Washington as an undrafted free agent before the 1986 season. Bears radio analyst and former offensive lineman Tom Thayer is another name you’ll recognize.

The Bears were the heavy favorites coming into this one despite Flutie starting the game due to injuries and illness that had the Redskins playing short-handed. Still, Washington came into Soldier Field with one intention: stop Walter Payton. Washington was content with Doug Flutie beating them, and figured that if they could stop Payton, they could win.

They were right. Flutie was held to 134 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions, and Washington’s defense held Payton to just 38 yards and no touchdowns on 14 carries. Hall of Fame receiver Art Monk caught two touchdowns for the Redskins as Washington beat the Bears 27-13.

This game, and the Bears early exit from the 1986 NFL playoffs led to former Bears GM Jerry Vainisi being fired. Vainisi – who passed away last week at the age of 80 – was one of the architects of the Bears Super Bowl XX roster and the man the ousted the Honey Bears. Vainisi would move on to the Detroit Lions, where he was the team’s Vice President of Player Personnel when the team chose Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders with the third pick in the 1989 NFL Draft.

I found the full broadcast on YouTube for your viewing pleasure:

written by

Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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