After toiling with lame Bears teams in the first seven years of his career, Payton struck paydirt when Mike Ditka took over as Bears head coach.
Along with defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, Ditka’s Bears annually fielded one of the league’s most feared defensive units. Meanwhile, the offense was still propped up by Payton.
In 1984, the Bears battled quarterback issues. The oft-injured Jim McMahon and Steve Fuller gave way to a gentleman named Rusty Lisch.
During the ’84 season, Lisch played in seven games and was routinely awful (he finished ’84 with a 35.1 passer rating). Lisch’s only start that season was a home date against the Green Bay Packers.
Lisch’s lone start was so dreadful, Ditka opted to put Payton in at quarterback for an extended period of time late in the second quarter.
It’s crazy to watch one of the NFL’s greatest running backs ever, drop back out of the shotgun and play quarterback. Anyhow, it was a middling day for Payton at quarterback.
He was intercepted once and completed just one pass but it was a two-yard touchdown toss to Matt Shuey.
Chicago lost to Green Bay, 20-14. The Bears finished 10-6 in ’84 and appeared in the NFC title game – losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers.