It was just a matter of time before I got around to the greatest tight end that ever laced em up for the Bears. Mike Ditka. His rookie season of 1961 was the 1st of what would be five consecutive Pro Bowls. He was named 1st team All NFL by the Sporting News and the Newspaper Entertainment Association, and he was named 2nd team All NFL by the UPI and the NY Daily News (haters).
In week one Ditka got off to a slow start in loss to the Vikings, when he had 1 catch for 18 yards. They should have thrown to the man that would eventually become Da Coach a few more times to help them get the win. In week two they must have realized the power of the Ditka, as he opened the scoring with a 47 yard TD and ended up with 5 receptions for 130 yards in a win over the L.A. .
The Bears next had an unhappy trip to Green Bay, losing 24-0, but Ditka grabbed 3 for 47 yards. The Bears bounced back in a 37-17 win in Detroit, with Ditka amassing 5 catches for 120 yards and another TD.
His next big game came 2 weeks later in a 31-0 schellacking of the 49ers at Wrigley Field. He scored 2 TDs on 4 receptions for 107 yards. He followed that game up with a 4 for 61 and a TD line in a win in Baltimore.
He made the most of his lone catch against the Eagles in week 8 taking it 76 yards for a score. The Packers completed the sweep in week 9, but Iron Mike had a huge game with 9 receptions for 3 TDs. Ditka was the offense that day, as his 190 receiving yards was 78.5% of the teams 242 total yards.
The 49ers got some revenge the next week in a 41-31 victory, but Ditka added 5 more grabs for 98 yards and another TD. Ditka was shutout as the Bears swept the Rams 28-24, but he came back in a week 12 loss to Detroit with 7 catches for 70 yards.
The Bears finished the year winning their last two. Week 13 saw a quiet 4 for 35 performance by Ditka in a 17-13 defeat of the Browns, but in the season finale the Bears and Ditka went off by dropping 52 points on the Vikings. Billy Wade threw for 355 yards going 23 of 34, with 4 TDs, and Ditka caught two of those scores to go along with 102 yards and receptions.
Mike Ditka ended the season with career bests of 1,076 yards, 12 TDs, and 19.2 yards per reception. And his 56 receptions led the Bears in '61.