Chicago Bears Greatest Games 1979-2010
by Roy Taylor © 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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.