Chicago Bears Greatest Games 1979-2010
43rd Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 36, Vikings 30: December 28, 2009
This game mirrored Brett Favre's last visit to Soldier Field, that one as a Packer in 2007. The weather was brutally cold, Favre's team was dominating the NFC and the Bears were going nowhere but to their homes for the playoffs.
The Bears jumped all over the Vikings in this Monday Night Football matchup, leading the Vikings 16-0 at halftime and 23-6 in the third quarter. Favre wasn't quite as shaken by the cold weather as he was in '07, but the Bears defense rattled him the whole game. While the Bear defense did their best to allow Favre to get back in the game, spreading the ball around to his receivers for 321 total yards passing, the Chicago offense woke up for the first time, as Jay Cutler connected with receiver Devin Aromashodu seven times for 150 yards.
Despite the deficit, Minnesota tied the game at 30 at the end of regulation. Thanks to a fumble by Viking running back Adrian Peterson, the Bears were able to recover and score on a Aromashodu touchdown catch to pull off a 36-30 upset. In the process, the Bears kept the Vikings from owning home field advantage through the playoffs, probably helping keep them out of Super Bowl 44.
42nd Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
1991 NFC Wildcard Playoff: Cowboys 17, Bears 13: December 29, 1991
The resurgent Dallas Cowboys entered Soldier Field as the underdogs in this game. They had been surprisingly good in 1991, but no one figured they were ready to take on the playoff-seasoned Chicago Bears. Funny to see that written, isn't it?
Despite having a record on 9-2 in November, the Bears finished the year 11-5, narrowly losing the division crown to the Detroit Lions in the last week of the season. Chicago was defeated 52-14 in San Francisco in that game, so they did sputter into the playoffs, but yet were still expected to win. In attendance with the frenzied Soldier Field crowd were none other than Saturday Night Live's "Superfans", whose fame was then at its apex.
The Cowboys led 10-0 in the second quarter, 10-3 at halftime, and 17-6 at the end of the third. The Bears did narrow the deficit to 17-13 late in the fourth quarter, and held the ball with less than two minutes remaining. After all the heroics of the 1991 season, it figured that the Bears would engineer a game-winning drive. But it was not to be, as Harbaugh was intercepted, ending the game for Chicago.
The only positives on the day for the Bears were the play of rookie running back Darren Lewis and receiver Tom Waddle. Lewis, a sixth-round pick in 1991, played sparingly through the regular season. But on the final drive of the first half he became a revelation, rumbling to several long gains on rushes and short passes. He finished the day with 65 yards rushing on only 9 carries, besting Anderson who had 34 yards on 13 tries.
Waddle played like an all-pro, setting a Bears playoff record for receiving with nine catches for 104 yards and a touchdown. Many of the catches were painful, ended up with him landing on his head or his back after spinning in the air, and resulted in the crowd of 65,000 chanting "WADDLE...WADDLE."
This playoff game was a watershed moment for both teams. While the Cowboys would lose in Detroit the following weeks, their stock was rising, and they would win the Super Bowl in the following two seasons. The Bears were bloodied, beaten and demoralized after the loss. Derision broke out in the postgame locker room, and the team would never be the same, leading to the dismissal of legendary coach Mike Ditka after the 1992 season.
41st Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 20, Chargers 17: October 25, 1981
The 1981 Bears finished a putrid 6-10 on the 1981 season, but they surprisingly beat all four strong teams they met from the AFC West that season: the Chargers, Broncos, Raiders and Chiefs.
For the Chargers game, Bear defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan pulled out all the stops shematically. He was facing a high-powered Chargers attack led by quarterback Dan Fouts. Fouts threw to unquestionably the most dynamic set of backs, receivers and tight ends in the NFL. San Diego's specialists included the likes of running back Chuck Muncie, receivers Charlie Joiner and Wes Chandler, and tight end Kellen Winslow, Sr. Entering the game, the Chargers were 5-2, while the Bears were 1-6.
Throughout the first three quarters the Bears stifled the Charger attack. Ryan not only employed rookie linebacker Mike Singletary for one of the first times all season, but had divised a 5-1-5 defensive alignment to mix in with his blitzing 46 attack. The Chargers couldn't find an answer until the fourth quarter, when they rallied to tie the game twice, first at 10, then at 17. The Bears finally won the game 20-17 in overtime on a John Roveto field goal.
Bear quarterback Vince Evans was surprisingly efficient, throwing for 219 yards on 17 of 39 passing with no interceptions. But the key to the Bears offense was the running attack. Walter Payton finished with 107 yards and a touchdown, while backfield mate Matt Suhey, in his second season, added 64 and a score.
40th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 20, Packers 17: December 22, 2008
It was a Monday Night game, the coldest game ever played at Soldier Field. And as had happened so rarely in the last 30 years, there were playoff implications for the Bears as they faced the Packers this late in the season.
While the Packers were out of the playoff race at 5-9, the 8-6 Bears needed this win, and help, in order to qualify for the postseason.
The temperature through the game held steady at near 0 degrees, but it didn't faze the Packers too much, as they led 14-3 at the half. In the third quarter, Bear tight end Greg Olsen caught a touchdown pass from Kyle Orton to close the gap to 14-10. Olsen's score was followed by a Packer field goal, then finally the Bears tied the score at 17 on a Matt Forte touchdown run.
Tied 17-17, Packer kicker Mason Crosby lined up for the winning 38-yard field goal with 17 seconds left, and the Bears playoff hopes looked doomed. It's one thing to miss the playoffs, another entirely to allow your arch-rival to keep you from going. As Crosby kicked, Bears defensive end Alex Brown blocked it, saving the Bears' hopes. In overtime, Chicago kicker Robbie Gould, 3-3 on the night, kicked the winning field goal.
The Soldier Field crowd went crazy. But the following week, even though everything the Bears needed to happen to help them get into the playoffs happened, the Bears lost to a Houston Texans team that was playing for nothing, and there would be no trip to the playoffs in 2008.
39th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 42, Rams 27: December 11, 2006
The storyline entering this Monday Night Football game was whether Rex Grossman would remain the Bears' starting quarterback to the end of the season. But the tale told after the game would be much different.
Grossman was under fire at this point. He was the hottest-and coldest-quarterback in the NFL that season. He started the campaign on fire and looked to garner consideration for the game's Most Valuable Player award. Then for a stretch he couldn't seem to hit an open receiver-at times finishing with a quarterback rating barely over zero.
In this game against the Rams, there was no score in the first quarter. The Rams struck first on a touchdown pass from Marc Bulger to Torry Holt, over rookie defender Devin Hester, playing cornerback in an emergency.
Hester would strike back immediately on his own, returning the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. The teams would trade scores, and the Bears would lead 14-13 at halftime by virtue of a missed extra point by the Rams. The Bears then scored three unanswered touchdowns, and Hester put the icing on the cake with a 96-yard kickoff return for another score, and the Bears won 42-27.
Grossman answered his critics, for this night anyway, turning in a strong performance with 200 yards and two touchdowns.
Perhaps most memorable about this game, other than the dynamic Hester, was the electric atmosphere in the Edward Jones Dome. Fully 60% of the crowd supported the Bears, and cheered loudly before, during and after the game. NFL football is fun for America when the Bears are winning.
38th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 23, Lions 17: December 2, 1990
The Bears were 9-2 entering this game, the Lions 4-7. Detroit surprised in the contest when they held a 17-14 lead in the fourth quarter. The Bears rallied to tie the game at 17 and force overtime.
In overtime the Bears surprised by striking for gold instead of dinking and dunking to get into field goal range. Fleet-footed running back Neal Anderson lined up wide as a receiver, streaked down the field, and caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Jim Harbaugh to end the game.
At 10-2 the Bears ruled the NFC. But the Bears would lose three of their last four, including a rematch to the Lions in Detroit two weeks later. They limped into the playoffs, eventually getting blown out in New York by the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants.
37th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 23, Packers 21: December 18, 1983
This was the coldest game in Soldier Field history, before being surpassed by the Bears-Packers contest in 2008. The temperature hovered at 0 degrees for the whole game, and the Packers would need a victory to squeak into the playoffs.
While the Bears had no playoffs on the line, they wanted to end the season on a strong note. While they began the season 3-5, they had won four of their last five. A win on this day would give them five wins in their final six games.
The Bears struck first on a 35-yard touchdown pass to Willie Gault from Jim McMahon. Then the Packers scored two touchdowns to lead 14-7 at halftime. The Bears scored twice more, leading 20-14 in the fourth quarter, but a failed extra point attempt was the difference after the Packers took a 21-20 lead.
Then began a scoring march that would begin a long thread of frustration for Green Bay, and signal the beginning of one of the greatest eras for the Bears. In the frigid cold, McMahon would drive the Bears down the field until Bob Thomas kicked the game-winning 22 yard field goal.
The Packers were eliminated from playoff contention after the loss, while the Bears would continue their uphill march to Super Bowl 20 in 1984. In the wake of the disappointment, the Packers fired longtime coach Bart Starr and would replace him the following season with Forrest Gregg.
36th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 12, Packers 10: November 23, 1986
Would the 2-9 Green Bay Packers be able to make it a game, playing at Soldier Field against the conference-leading 9-2 Chicago Bears? Being a Bears-Packers game in the 1980's, of course they would.
But one Packer had an additional twist to show the Bears in this contest. Defensive end Charles Martin displayed throughout the game a towel hanging from his pants, which apparently constituted a "hit list." On the towel were written in permanent marker the numbers 9, 34, 29, and 83, assumed to mean he would be going after Jim McMahon, Walter Payton, Dennis Gentry and Willie Gault.
Midway through the game, with the Bears leading 9-0, McMahon threw a pass that was intercepted. As the quarterback was trotting down the field watching the interception return, Martin picked up McMahon from behind and slammed him to the hard Soldier Field Astroturf. McMahon's shoulder was injured to the degree that it may not have healed fully until the 1988 season, and may still never have been the same.
The Bears won the game, but as their offense was inept in 1986 when McMahon wasn't piloting it, his removal for the remainder of the season at the hands of a Packer may have spoiled Chicago's chances of returning to the Super Bowl.
35th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Steelers 37, Bears 34: November 5, 1995
The 1995 Bears fielded an offense like none other seen in Chicago since the days of Sid Luckman. Coming into this November 5th game, the 6-2 Bears were on a four-game winning streak and looked as if they'd be a cinch to make the playoffs.
What dogged this Bears team was its passing defense, particularly on third down. The Steelers and quarterback Neil O'Donnell took full advantage of this.
The game was a back-and-forth contest in which either team never led by more than seven points at a time. While the Bears defense stepped up with clutch plays like a Barry Minter interception return for a touchdown, they were burned repeatedly by the Steelers converting first downs on third and very long.
Bear kicker Kevin Butler missed a field goal that would have won it for the Bears, then Pittsburgh kicker Norm Johnson finally put it away with a 24-yard field goal to clinch the win.
The Bear loss led to Chicago losing four of their next five games, and they missed the playoffs after starting so strong.
34th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Vikings 33, Bears 27: December 1, 1994
Chicago was on a four-game winning streak and led the NFC Central division with an 8-4 record, to the Vikings' 7-5. The Bears hadn't faced such a clutch Monday Night game since the 1992 season, at least.
The Bears offense was like it usually was, conservative and run-oriented, but it had found its groove after backup quarterback Steve Walsh replaced Erik Kramer, who it was thought would have been the starter for the whole season.
First, nickel running back Robert Green did his best Barry Sanders impersonation when he juked and slashed his way to a 39-yard touchdown on a short reception. Then Jeff Graham returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown. The Bear defense initially held the Vikings to a lot of field goals, but after giving up 306 yards passing to Warren Moon and 124 on the ground to Robert Smith, it wasn't a surprise that the Vikings ended up winning.
After going to overtime, it ended quickly on a 65 yard touchdown pass from Moon to Cris Carter. But it was fun while it lasted.
33rd Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 17, Dolphins 14: November 13, 1994
The 1994 Miami Dolphins were in the waning years of Don Shula's reign. Dan Marino was still their quarterback, and while Miami was seemingly always in transition, they were still strong. Indeed, the Dophins would finish 10-6 that season and win a playoff game.
This day was muggy, with offshore storms threatening all day. It was a strange day on the field as well. One of the stranger plays of the day was a Donnell Woolford interception, after which he ran from one side of the field to the other on a lengthy return, only to fumble the ball back to the Dolphins.
The Bears also scored a touchdown on a strange "swinging gate" field goal formation, when receiver Curtis Conway threw a touchdown pass that bounced in the air several times until hauled in for the score by tight end Keith Jennings.
Surprisingly, the Bears led 14-6 in the fourth quarter, until Miami tied the game. The Bears again regained the lead on a Kevin Butler field goal. Miami threatened one more time at the end of the game, but a last-second field goal attempt by the Dolphins' Pete Stoyanovich was blocked by Chicago tackle James "Big Cat" Williams, preserving the win.
32nd Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Vikings 21, Bears 20: October 4, 1992
Anyone who was alive and watching the Bears in 1992 remembers this game. And those that weren't have certainly seen replays. Within this game came the final unraveling of Bears legend Mike Ditka, and it ended up being the final nail in his coffin as Bears coach.
Following a stunning opening day win over Detroit, the Bears dropped to 2-2 on losses to the New York Giants and the New Orleans Saints. Chicago then pounded Atlanta leading into the matchup with the revamped Vikings, led by rookie coach Dennis Green. Minnesota led the division with a 3-1 record, and the Bears and Packers were 2-2, so already they were playing for their playoff lives.
As many problems as the '92 Bears had, they didn't show through the first three quarters on this day in the Metrodome. Chicago's attack was steady and effective early on in this game. Tom Waddle caught a diving touchdown pass from Jim Harbaugh, and the quarterback himself ran for another. These scores with two Kevin Butler field goals gave the Bears a 20-0 lead early in the final period. The Bears seemed destined to win.
With 12-some minutes remaining in the game, the Bears had just stopped the Vikings again and had the ball on their own 35. If the Bears would be able to grind out a drive ending in a field goal, the game would have been out of reach. Hell, with a 20-0 lead in the fourth quarter it should have already been out of reach. Harbaugh stepped to the line, and running back Neal Anderson went into motion to the left. Harbaugh dropped back and threw a quick pass to the left, aiming for Anderson, but the pass flew well off its apparent target and landed in the hands of Viking defensive back Todd Scott. Nothing but daylight stood between Scott and the end zone, and the Metrodome crowd erupted.
But the crowd wasn't all that erupted. Television cameras cut to Ditka on the sideline, and the voliatle coach exploded like never before. As Harbaugh approached the sidelines, Ditka repeatedly cursed the quarterback, paced and emulated throwing his clipboard. Harbaugh mainly looked straight ahead. It would later be revealed that Harbaugh was under a strict no audible directive in the din of Minnesota's stadium, and he had disobeyed his coach's orders by doing just that. (Anderson was not prepared for nor expecting the pass when it came his way).
Chicago fans can imagine the ending even if they didn't see the game. The Vikings went on to surge for two more fourth-quarter touchdowns and won the game in stunning fashion. Ditka spoke later shot back at the media by saying "99 plays I'm calm and on one I get excited. And you sonofabitches have to make a big deal about it. If you think this is a G--d--n soap opera, you're full of sh*t."
The 1992 Bears would recover briefly, winning their next two games and posessing a 4-3 record, but it was for naught as they lost seven of the final eight to seal their legendary coach's fate.
31st Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Buccaneers 32, Bears 31: November 19, 1989
The 1989 Chicago Bears season was filled with finishes that seemed to defy anything a Hollywood writer might come up with. The Bears had seemed to be their usual dominating selves in the first four weeks of the season. They had started with a 4-0 record, beating the defending AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals on opening day, then Minnesota, Detroit and Philadelphia. Then Hall of Fame defensive lineman Dan Hampton injured his knee and was lost for the season. Actually, John Mullin did a good job reporting in his book The Rise and Self Destruction that Hampton and Ditka approached Michael McCaskey, offering for Hampton to play through the pain in 1989 if only McCaskey would guarantee Hampton's 1990 salary. McCaskey balked, and Hampton was forced to have surgery and miss the remainder of the '89 season.
Following the loss of Hampton, the Bears lost three straight. The first of those defeats was in Tampa. The Bears actually scored 35 points, but gave up 42 as the lowly Bucs ran and threw all over the Chicago defense. After the three-game losing streak, the Bears took two of their next three, entering the November 19th game against Tampa at Soldier field with a 6-4 record and still a reasonable shot at the playoffs. Ditka had benched Tomczak, the incumbent starter, after the losing streak, and Harbaugh was set to start his fourth game at the helm.
On this day, Harbaugh was brutal, throwing for just 126 yards on 12 completions with 3 interceptions. Ditka inserted Tomczak in the fourth quarter with the Bears trailing 23-10. Tomczak promptly threw a 58-yard touchdown pass to Ron Morris, but the Bear defense gave it right back up when they allowed a 78 yard pass from Vinny Testaverde to Mark Carrier. But Tomczak was far from done. Tomczak followed up the Tampa score by tossing successive touchdown passes to Wendell Davis, the first a 26-yarder, then a 52-yarder. It looked as if Tomczak would play the hero, rallying the Bears to victory from a 13 point deficit in the final period.
Following the last Bears score, they led 31-29. All they had to do was stop Tampa one more time with less than two minutes remaining. But they couldn't do it. Tampa marched down the field, and Donald Igwebuike kicked the Buccaneers to their first ever season sweep of the Bears.
30th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Broncos 31, Bears 29: November 16, 1987
Perennial powerhouse teams Chicago and Denver. Legendary 1980's quarterbacks John Elway and (rejuvenated) Jim McMahon. Monday Night Football. This game had it all.
The NFL was still recovering from the 1987 player's strike, this being the fourth week after the union players had returned to the field. The Bears had won three in a row following the work resumption-all in stunning fashion. Comeback wins against Tampa and Kansas City were followed by a last-second win at Green Bay on a Kevin Butler field goal.
The Bears-Broncos matchup would not disappoint, even on the heels of those contests. McMahon may have benefitted more than anyone in the NFL from the player's strike, as it allowed his shoulder, still smarting from the 1986 hit from Packer Charles Martin, further time to heal. In this game, he would throw for a rare 300+ yard game and three touchdowns. Walter Payton and Neal Anderson, playing as backfield mates for much of the season, split the load, rushing for 107 yards and catching 10 passes between them.
The game was a see-saw affair that saw the Bears lead 14-0 in the second quarter, but trail 21-14 at halftime. Chicago would score the next two touchdowns after that, but extra point attempt failed both times. A Butler field goal gave the Bears a 29-21 lead in the final period, but Denver would score twice in the fourth, winning the game by virtue of the two missed extra point conversions. The Bears would lead one final drive but it would ultimately fail, and the Bears lost in their fourth barn-burning game in a row.
29th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 30, Steelers 6: December 13, 1992
The Bears were 4-9, coming off a God awful six-game losing streak. In town were the surprising 10-3 Pittsburgh Steelers, coached by first-year man Bill Cowher. The Steelers would go on to play in the AFC Championship game that year, while the Bears were out of the playoff hunt by late November. Surely, I thought at the time, the Bears had no chance.
But this was "Mike Singletary Day" in Chicago. The Bears unveiled in this game the commemorative patch they would wear for Singletary until the end of the season, and this was "Samuari Mike's" last game in Chicago. Prior to the game, Singletary stepped to the microphone and addressed the Soldier Field faithful, thanking them, his teammates and coaches for his time as a Bear.
The Bears played this game with a fire and urgency they had not shown since October. They were also again with most of the personnel they had started the 1992 season with. Coach Mike Ditka, in a rage for most of the middle of the season, had pulled many starters at safety, cornerback, running back and at quarterback to shake things up, but losses were the only result. The most notable return in this game was quarterback Jim Harbaugh's reappearance as the starter.
Harbaugh threw for just 90 yards in the game, but was efficient enough to guide the Bears to the victory. On the ground, Neal Anderson and Darren Lewis combined for 103 rushing yards, and Brad Muster added another 27, plus two receptions. The Bears defense was the real story of the game, playing with ferocity, tagging Steeler quarterback Bubby Brister with five sacks and two interceptions.
In this game, the audience also saw the final act of 1991 first round pick Stan Thomas. Thomas was a complete bustout as a starting left tackle in 1991 and 1992. As the losing 1992 campaign dragged on, Ditka did try to get Thomas playing time on the right side, but he was still ineffective. In the Steeler game, the audience was treated to a full-on shouting match between the coach and the turd on the sideline. The following season, new coach and personnel man Dave Wannstedt would cut Thomas before opening day.
On a personal note, I have always been intrigued by this game. It may have been a simple case of "on a given Sunday," but watching the 1992 Bears put a whipping on a team that went to their conference championship game will always be evidence to me that this team quit on Mike Ditka. Which to me, will always be a shame. © 2000-2016 Roy Taylor