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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.