CHICAGO — The rampaging Chicago Bears have left paw prints all over the team and National Football League record books in compiling a 15-1 record this season.
They tied the NFL record for most regular-season wins, which was set last year by the Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers.
"I felt we could be in this area, 13-14 wins," said Coach Mike Ditka. "Fifteen you don't expect."
En route, the Bears shattered team records for most points, with 456; fewest points allowed with 198 (three shy of Pittsburgh's NFL record); most net yards in a season with 5,837; and most first downs with 343.
The Bears finished first in the NFL in total defense, with 4,135 yards; rushing defense, with 1,319 yards; possession time, interceptions with 34, rushing touchdowns scored with 27 and fewest rushing touchdowns allowed with six.
Individually, all-time rushing leader Walter Payton picked up three NFL records to bring his career total to eight.
He rushed for more than 100 yards in nine consecutive game to set a record that later was tied by Marcus Allen of the Los Angeles Raiders on the season's last game.
Payton's 1,551 yards gave him more than 1,000 for the record ninth time in his career. And his 2,034 combined yards gave him more than 2,000 for a record third straight year.
Payton stretched his other records to 14,860 yards rushing; his career-rushing attempts to 3,371; his career combined yards to 22,153; 100-yard game total to 73. He also holds the single-game rushing record with 275 yards set in 1977.
"Payton intimidates people," Ditka said.
Rookie place-kicker Kevin Butler, a fourth-round draft choice from Georgia, broke most of the team-scoring records with his 144 points, which also broke the NFL rookie record.
His point total broke the old team record of 132 points set by Gale Sayers in 1965. He also set team records with 31 field goals, 13 consecutive field goals, 81.6 field-goal percentage and 38 field-goal attempts in a season.
Richard Dent led the National Football Conference in sacks for the second year in a row, this time with 17.
In addition, William (The Refrigerator) Perry was popularly believed to be the heaviest man ever to score a touchdown from a set play in NFL history. Perry, a 308-pound rookie defensive tackle who also subbed as a running back, ran for two touchdowns and caught a touchdown pass.