Chicago Bears Greatest Games 1979-2010
The original intention of this article was "30 great Chicago Bears games in 30 years." But then we decided to go back to 1979, when we started watching the Bears, so 31 years. And then it turned out that we couldn't narrow the list to 30 games. We ended up coming up with 58 great games, and it starts here.  (There were several ties, thus we start at 55.)
55th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 13, Panthers 3: November 20, 2005
The Bears were surprising the NFL, riding a five-game winning streak, sitting with a record of 6-3 after having started the season 1-3. But the Panthers had equaled the Bears' dominance to that point, coming into the contest with a six-game winning streak and a record of 7-2.
The Bears defense was shocking and dominating opponents. The Panther defense was strong as well, but the team relied mainly on the offensive power of the Jake Delhomme-to-Steve Smith connection.
Bears rookie quarterback Kyle Orton, subbing for Rex Grossman most of the regular season, passed for only 136 yards with one touchdown and one interception the entire game, and the Bears defeated the Panthers 13-3. The real story of the game was the Bear defense. Cornerback Nathan Vasher, on his way to the Pro Bowl in only his second year, intercepted Delhomme twice. The picks were the result of a ferocious pass rush that sacked the quarterback eight times on the day, led by defensive end Adawale Ogunelye's three.
The victory would bring false hope to Chicago, who behind Rex Grossman would lose a stunner to the Panthers in the 2005 divisional playoff at Soldier Field.
54th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 35, Eagles 3: October 4, 1987
Nothing about the play on the football field was particularly interesting in this game, as the competition was between football players no fan had heard of just weeks before. This was the first 1987 game played following the player's strike that was called following the second game of the season.
Bears quarterbacks Mike Hohensee and Sean Payton (yes, the Sean Payton that coaches the New Orleans Saints) combined for 208 passing yards and three touchdowns, and Mike Ditka's Bears would beat Buddy Ryan's Philadelphia Eagles for the second straight year, this time by the score of 35-3.
But the real story was outside the stadium on gameday, and in the press the preceeding week. While Ryan sided with the striking NFL union players, Ditka declared that the "real Bears" were the "scab" players that were on the field. This obviously did nothing to endear Ditka to the likes of Walter Payton, Gary Fencik and Mike Singletary. On game day the situation was a powder keg outside the stadium, with members of local Philadelphia unions intimidating fans that tried to attend the game. As a result, less than 4,000 fans attended the game at Veteran's Stadium. Must have been a site to see, and that's the reason this stinker of a football game was one of the most memorable.
53rd Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 35, Packers 7: December 23, 2007
The 5-9 Bears were going nowhere, and the shockingly good 12-2 Packers were playing to lock up homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. The Bears had lost so much hope, in fact, that they decided to start 2006 castoff quarterback Kyle Orton for the first time since the 2005 season, when he left the field as a disappointment.
The Bears held a 6-0 lead in the second quarter, when surprising Packer runner Ryan Grant ripped off a 66-yard touchdown run to give Green Bay a 7-6 lead. This seemed to be how so many other Bear losses to the Packers started. But it was not to be on this day.
Following Grant's run, the Bears scored 29 unanswered points to shock (and sweep for the season) Green Bay. The Packers finished the year 13-3, with two of their three losses coming at the hands of the Bears. Who could forget the Chicago defense harassing Brett Favre all day. The harassment and scoring culminated with an 85-yard touchdown return of a Favre interception by Bear linebacker Brian Urlacher. Favre would later call it the coldest game he ever played in. Temperatures hovered below 20 degrees all day, but a whipping Lake Michigan wind kept the wind chill far below that.
52nd Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Vikings 27, Bears 24: November 14, 1999
The 1999 Bears could have been one of the more exciting 6-10 teams in NFL history. This game took place one week after the Bears' first win over Green Bay in five years. The Packer win had come in the final seconds when defensive end Bryan Robinson blocked a Ryan Longwell field goal attempt, in the first game after Walter Payton's tragic death. The Vikings were 5-4 entering this game, and the Bears 4-5 with new hope for the season.
Also new for the Bears was journeyman quarterback Jim Miller making his first start of the season. Chicago had bounced around its starting quarterbacks that season. Shane Matthews started the year until he suffered an injury in the first Vikings game. Rookie Cade McNown started the Packers game, but was relieved by Miller when he too was injured. Miller would start the Viking game with two injured backups.
On Minnesota's side, following a brilliant 1998 campaign, Randall Cunningham had been benched in favor of Jeff George. Under George the Viking offense, led by Randy Moss, Cris Carter and Robert Smith, didn't miss a beat.
This 1999 battle was a high-powered, back and forth contest. The Bears struck first on a 77-yard bomb from Miller to phenom receiver Marcus Robinson. After the Vikings answered, rookie receiver Marty Booker took a wide receiver screen pass from Miller and raced 56 yards for another score. This was the game in which Bear offensive coordinator Gary Crowton's "razzle dazzle" attack shined the most-Miller would finish with 422 yards passing and 3 touchdowns.
But the Bear defense was atrocious, giving up 204 receiving yards to Moss and three touchdowns to Carter. The Bears had the ability to win the game as kicker Chris Boniol lined up for a chip-shot field goal at the end of the game, but he missed, sending the game to overtime and an eventual Minnesota win.
51st Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 22, Cowboys 6: September 2, 1996
Thanks mainly to Dave Wannstedt's own proclimation, fans were expecting a result like that of the 2006 Bears from the team in 1996. During training camp, Wannstedt had proclaimed to the media that "all the pieces are in place for a run deep into the playoffs."
The Bears were coming off a 1995 in which their offense set franchise records. Most of the offensive pieces were returning other than wide receiver Jeff Graham, and promising running back Raymont Harris was to return after missing all but a couple snaps of the 1995 campaign.
The defense was thought to be improved with the re-signing of defensive end Alonzo Spellman and the free agent acquisition of linebacker Bryan Cox.
On Monday Night Football, the Bears would host the Dallas Cowboys, who were reigning NFL champs. Good for the Bears was that Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin would not play due to a league-imposed suspension. Still, not many in the national audience expected the Bears to win.
The Bears held a 16-3 lead in the fourth quarter, even though the outstanding offensive production of the previous season was missing. The Bears' points were the result of three Carlos Huerta field goals and a gadget touchdown pass from Harris to Curtis Conway. Chicago put the final nail in Dallas' coffin late in the game, when a blitzing Kevin Miniefield sacked Troy Aikman in the end zone, and Cox pounced on the quarterback's fumble for a touchdown.
The Bear defense dominated, embarassed and injured the vaunted Dallas attack--indeed running back Emmitt Smith wouldn't leave a Chicago hospital until later in the week. After the game, Spellman proclaimed there was a "new sherriff in town."
But the Bears' euphoria was short-lived, as they started the season with a 1-3 record en route to a 7-9 finish. Despite such a strong start to the season, 1996 was really the beginning of the end for Wannstedt's teams.
50th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Packers 24, Bears 23: October 12, 1997
The 1997 Bears were horrific. They lost this game, as they did 11 more this season, but the Packers game at Soldier Field certainly was memorable.
The Bears were 0-6 entering the contest, the Packers were as good as they ever have been and were reigning Super Bowl champions. The game had no business ever being close, and no one thought it would, but the Bears jumped to a 10-0 lead. At halftime though, the Packers had pulled ahead 14-10. The Bears pulled to as close as 17-14, but with seconds remaining the Bears scored a touchdown to bring the score to 24-23 Green Bay. An extra point by reliable Jeff Jaeger would send the game to overtime.
But inexplicably, Dave Wannstedt elected to try a two-point conversion and win the game. Quarterback Erik Kramer attempted a swing pass to a well-covered Raymont Harris in the backfield, and Harris didn't even catch the pass. The Bears' record fell to 0-7, and unfortunately the fan base had another 25 games of Wannstedt-coached teams to endure.
49th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Vikings 48, Bears 22: December 6, 1998
This game was a wreck in a wreck of a season. Not one that any Bears fan would want to be memorable. But as it was the true beginning of the end of Dave Wannstedt, it is noteworthy.
The '98 Vikings were rolling to a 15-1 record while the Bears were floundering, so no one expected the Bears to put up much of a fight. Indeed, Minnesota led 27-0 in the third quarter before the Bears could muster a touchdown pass from Steve Stenstrom to Bobby Engram.
But it was close to the end of the game when Dave Wannstedt's goose was cooked. Trailing 41-14, the Bears held the ball inside the Viking five yard line when Stenstrom fumbled. Viking linebacker Dwayne Rudd recovered the fumble and raced 95 yards for a touchdown. But for the last 20 yards of his run, Rudd turned around and mocked the nearest Bear, running back Edgar Bennett, as he edged backwards into the end zone.
Bears fans were livid. Former Bears, such as Hall of Famer Dan Hampton, were incensed that the Bears players and coaches hung their head and didn't seem fazed by the embarrassment. This resignation to losing no doubt would come into play when the decision was made to fire Wannstedt less than a month later.
48th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 20, Chiefs 17: September 12, 1999
The 1999 Bears were a very different team than the disaster of a club they fielded the year before. New head coach Dick Jauron and his coordinators Gary Crowton and Greg Blache committed to bring a team that scored points and played solid defense back to the city.
Crowton certainly did his share in the season opening game, as he unveiled an offense much more similar to a college spread attack than anything the NFL had seen since the demise of the run and shoot in the early 1990's. Many plays featured five wide receivers and an empty backfield, but on the very next play might bring in three tight ends and two heavy running backs. The looks that were new to the NFL confused the Chiefs all day in the 20-17 Bears win.
In fairness to the Chiefs, the game was closer than it seemed. After the game, new Chiefs head coach Gunther Cunningham actually unknowingly gave a name to Crowton's attack when he said "this razzle-dazzle offense, when people figure it out, isn't going to be anything." And you know what? Cunningham was dead right.
47th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 23, Lions 20: December 23, 2000
This game was a turning point for both teams. It signaled that the Bears were on the upswing, even though we found out that upswing would only last one season. For the Lions, this game signalled they were entering a morass from which they have not emerged for a full decade.
The Lions jumped out to a 10-0 lead as expected. The Bears were again quarterbacked by Shane Matthews, who had bounced from bench to starter after an injury to Jim Miller and incapable play by Cade McNown. The Bears looked as if they would lose this game and fall to a record of 4-12 until late-game heroics from the defense. First, backup cornerback R.W. McQuarters returned a Stoney Case interception 61 yards for a touchdown. This gave the Bears the lead, which they watched evaporate on a Jason Hanson field goal.
Then with just minutes left, McQuarters again came up big, sacking case and forcing a fumble which was recovered by the Bears. McNown returned to take his final snaps as a Bear due to a Matthews injury, guiding the Bears just far enough to allow Paul Edinger to kick the game-winning 54-yard field goal. The Lions missed a shot at the playoffs, and the Bears entered the following season on the upswing.
46th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
NFC Divisional Playoff: Eagles 33, Bears 19: January 19, 2002
Chicago was awash in Bears fever, as the Bears were in the playoffs for the first time since 1994. And they hadn't just snuck in with help from another team as they did that season. The 2001 Bears had finished 13-3 and pulled off many stunning victories. At the same time, they couldn't beat the Green Bay Packers, so this should have been some indication of how they would fare against the tough teams.
The Bears were favored in the game with prognosticators picking the tough Bears defense over Donovan McNabb and his underwhelming corps of receivers. But it wouldn't be McNabb's receivers that would do the damage in this contest.
The Bears played their usual conservative brand of offense favored by coordinator John Shoop in the early going. Rookie of the Year running back Anthony Thomas found running lanes not so open against the tough Eagle defense. When quarterback Jim Miller finally took a shot down the field, the ball was woefully underthrown and intercepted by future Bear Damon Moore. Even worse, on the play Miller was blindsided by Eagle defensive end Hugh Douglas, and knocked from the game with a shoulder injury.
It was all over for the Bears at that point, as backup Shane Matthews couldn't do anything but dink and dunk the ball down the field. Chicago did score two touchdowns on a reverse by Ahmad Merritt, and a 39-yard interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Jerry Azumah, but those scores plus an intentional safety by the Eagles didn't bring the Bears close enough in the end.
The vaunted 2001 Bears defense was led by "800 pounds of ass" (Keith Traylor and Ted Washington) in the middle of their defensive line, and Philadephia figured out that by using the young, mobile McNabb, they could buy time for him to find his receivers down the field. And that's exactly what happened, ending the 2001 Bears' Super Bowl dreams.
45th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 21, Packers 10: September 19, 2004
Chicago had hired a new coach, Lovie Smith, and offensive coordinator, Terry Shea, prior to the 2004 season. Smith's defense was planned to be an attacking, sack and turnover-driven unit much different than his predecessor's. On the offense, Shea promised to mimic both Gene Saunders' and Mike Martz' high-flying schemes, resulting in many points scored for the Bears and not many given up.
The first week of the 2004 season was disappointing when the Bears handed the Detroit Lions their first road win in more than a season. At Green Bay in the second week of the season, hopes were not high among Bears fans. But for one week, everything worked.
The Bears took a 21-3 lead in this game and never looked back. Rex Grossman effeciently ran Shea's offense, Thomas Jones rushed for 154 yards and a touchdown, and the defense played tough. Mike Brown returned a Brian Urlacher-forced fumble 95 yards for a touchdown, and the Packers were humiliated.
Unfortunately the Bears would finish 5-11 while the Packers won the division in 2004. But it was fun to watch for one week.
44th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 29, Colts 13: September 7, 2008
NBC billed the opening Sunday Night Football matchup of the 2008 season as a rematch of the 2006 Super Bowl, won by the Colts. Many Bears followers simply yawned, not thinking the Bears led by quarterback Kyle Orton would have a chance of matching up against Peyton Manning and crew.
Aside from an exciting 50-yard rushing touchdown by rookie running back Matt Forte, the first half was mostly a grudge match. Outside of Forte's run, the most exciting event was the Bears defensive line stuffing Colt back Joseph Addai in his own end zone for a safety. These points along with two Robbie Gould field goals gave the Bears a 15-6 halftime lead.
An amazing Bears defensive resurgence continued in the second half, capped by Lance Briggs returning a fumble for a touchdown. To the shock of many, the Bears christened the opening of Lucas Oil Stadium with a 29-13 defeat of their hosts. © 2000-2016 Roy Taylor