Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy is somewhat of a team historian.
Nagy hasn’t even been on the job a full season, but his appreciation for the franchise’s storied tradition is well-documented.
Nagy previously paid homage to the organization by lining up the Bears’ backfield in the famous “T-Formation” to begin the year, and later by personally handing out jerseys of former Bears legends to the current members of the team and coaching staff.
On Sunday, Nagy offered up another tribute, calling for a handoff to 332-pound defensive lineman Akiem Hicks on the goal line against the Minnesota Vikings. It was reminiscent of William “The Refrigerator” Perry, the defensive tackle for the 1985 Bears, who scored two rushing touchdowns in the regular season and one in Super Bowl XX.
“We call that play, ‘freezer left,’ Nagy said after the Bears’ 30-27 overtime loss to the Giants.
The play worked as Hicks scored from 1-yard out, the first time he said he’d ever carried the football in a game and tied the Giants 7-7.
“The first time ever … ever,” Hicks said. “I play defense. I’ve been hitting people on the football field since I’ve been very young.”
Unlike Perry, who famously spiked the ball in the end zone following touchdown runs, Hicks ran back up the field and over to the Bears bench while cradling the ball in his arms.
“I didn’t ever want to give the ball up,” said Hicks, who scored on a fumble return with the New England Patriots in 2015. “I never wanted to give it up.”
Nagy said the Bears had been waiting for the right opportunity to use Hicks on the goal line.
“We’ve had that play in for weeks and we’ve been practicing it,” Nagy said. “The rain was coming down, and I don’t know if you could tell, but there were times out there when the ball was slick, so in that situation we felt that we needed to get the snap from under center and give him a chance. Akiem is hard to stop down there with a full head of steam.”
The last Bears defensive player with an offensive touchdown was Brian Urlacher on Dec. 23, 2001, when he caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Brad Maynard on a fake field goal attempt, according to ESPN Stats & Info.