Chicago Bears Greatest Games 1979-2010
14th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 20, Saints 17: October 27, 1991
Not many teams win games when their quarterback finishes 5/22 for 61 yards and two interceptions on the day. Those were Jim Harbaugh's statistics on this day, and the Bears squeaked out a dramatic win.
The Saints were 7-0 and the darlings of New Orleans and the NFC when the 5-2 Bears came to town. The raucous Superdome crowd fully expected the Saints to remain undefeated, and through most of the game it looked like that would be what would happen.
As bad as Harbaugh played on the day, the Bears were never out of the game. It just looked like they would never be in it, either. The Saints scored a touchdown, Kevin Butler kicked two field goals, and Saints kicker Morton Andersen tacked on a 60-yard kick in the first half. Brad Muster then gave the Bears a 13-10 lead in the third quarter with one of his patented touchdown runs on which he looked so slow as to be running in reverse, but still punching it in. But later in the third, Saints receiver Floyd Turner caught his second touchdown of the day, putting New Orleans back in front at 17-13.
New Orleans controlled the clock through most of the fourth quarter, and due to Harbaugh's ineffectiveness, the Bears didn't do anything when they did have the ball. But with just minutes remaining in the game, enormous Bear defensive tackle William Perry made a crucial third-down stop, giving Harbaugh one more opportunity to drive the length of the field for a touchdown.
Bear coach Mike Ditka actually had to be talked out of putting Harbaugh back in the game for the final drive after he already had backup Peter Tom Willis warming up. Harbaugh perservered, and drove the Bears into range, mainly on several long passes over the middle to Wendell Davis. With moments remaining in the game, Harbaugh hit 1991 legend Tom Waddle with a pass just short of the goal line, and "little Tommy" dove in to win the game in improbable fashion. The play that won the game was "13 Wing Jet," a Ditka staple in the clutch.
The following spring I found myself in New Orleans, and remember a cab driver telling me how upset he was that those two "slow white boys from Chicago" (Waddle and Muster) had ruined the Saints' perfect season.
Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game #13B since 1979
Dolphins 38, Bears 24: December 2, 1985
It was, almost literally, the Monday Night Football matchup of the century. The 12-0 Chicago Bears visiting the 8-4 Dolphins in Miami, with the home team defending their legacy as the only team to have ever finished with a perfect season. The Bears were fast becoming America's team, and had just shutout the Falcons (36-0) and Cowboys (44-0) in the previous two weeks.
The one wildcard for the Bears was that starting quarterback Jim McMahon would be missing his fourth consecutive game with shoulder and back problems. It was felt with one more week of rest, he would be ready to start again, and would even be available in a pinch in this game.
The pinch most certainly came. The Dolphins scored on every first half possession and led 31-10 at halftime. During the intermission, it has been vaguely said by players that Bears head coach Mike Ditka and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan came to blows in the locker room, allegedly over Ryan's refusal to play nickel defense against Miami's all-world passing attack.
McMahon did enter the contest late in the game with hopes of a comeback, but it was not to be. The final score in what is still the most watched Monday Night Football game in history was Miami 38, Bears 24.
Many Bears had recorded the audio version of the Super Bowl Shuffle the prior week, and many more would meet to record the video the very day after the loss. In Kevin Lamb's Portrait of Victory, defensive lineman Dan Hampton was quoted as saying "Any time you start patting yourself on the back, you've only got one hand to play with. We'll talk about how good we are when it's over." Hampton refused to take part in the song or video.
Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game #13A since 1979
Bears 42, Cardinals 6: December 16th, 1979
My 13th most memorable Chicago Bears game was also the second game I ever attended as an eight year old. The weather was frigid, snow was blowing, and Chicagoland woke up to the news that 54 year old Bears President George S. Halas Jr. had died unexpectedly of a heart attack in his sleep. "Mugs'" death was tragic, but not the only thing causing high drama that day. With a record of 9-6 the Bears would need to beat the Cardinals and have much help to make the playoffs. The Bears could win the division with a win and a Tampa Bay Buccaneer loss. If Tampa won, the Bears would need Dallas to beat Washington, and the Bears would need to score enough points to end up with a better point differential on the season than the Redskins. Basically, chances at the wildcard were slim to none.
If there weren't enough happening, running backs Walter Payton of the Bears and O.J. Anderson of the Cardinals were battling for the NFC rushing title.
On the game's opening drive, Payton tried to inject some humor into the glum day by continually untying the referee's shoelaces from the bottom of the pile. Whatever the team was doing worked, as they scored on that opening drive and another on a Mike Phipps to Dave Williams pass to lead 14-0 in the first quarter. Chicago would score again in the second to lead 21-0 at halftime, and when the Cardinals did muster a touchdown, they missed the extra point. In the second half Payton would score his third touchdown of the day, while receiver Rickey Watts scored on a pass and an 83-yard kickoff return to give the Bears a 42-6 victory in the end.
Bear players gathered near their cars after the game to listen to the Cowboys-Redskins broadcast, and learned that Dallas came from behind to defeat Washington by a point, earning the Bears the playoff spot by just 4 points of differential scoring.
12th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 19, Jets 13: September 23. 1991
It was the 1991 version of the Monday Night miracle. The 3-0 Bears hosted the 1-2 Jets just a week after Chicago had stunned the world champion Giants on the lakefront. But the Bears were stymied on getting into the end zone for most of the night, despite quarterback Jim Harbaugh hooking up with receive Tom Waddle to generate impressive statistics.
With less than two minutes remaining in the game, the Jets had the ball and were running out the clock, nursing a 13-6 lead. To that point the Bears could only score two field goals in 58 minutes of play. Then, on a routine kill-the-clock play, Bear defensive tackle Steve McMichael stripped the ball out of the hands of Jet running back Blair Thomas, and Chicago recovered. Several plays later and with the final seconds ticking off the clock, Harbaugh hit running back Neal Anderson on a swing pass for a touchdown. After Kevin Butler kicked the extra point, the Bears sent the game into overtime.
The drama still was not complete. Early in overtime, the Jets marched to attempt a chip-shot field goal, but on the night that had started to go the Bears' way, Pat Leahy's kick sailed far to the right. Late in overtime, with mere minutes remaining, Jim Harbaugh hit tight end Cap Boso on what appeared to be a 23-yard touchdown pass, and Boso came up with a face full of turf. Chicago players celebrated and headed into the locker room, only to be pulled back out by the referees, some half dressed, when it was ruled that Boso was down at the one yard line. The teams lined back up and finally Harbaugh sneaked the ball in for the winning touchdown.
On the night Harbaugh notched his first 300-yard game and Waddle caught eight passes for 102 yards. But most importantly the Bears were 4-0.
11th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 24, Cardinals 23: October 16, 2006
Much like 1985, in the early part of the 2006 season, the Chicago Bears were running away with the NFL. The Bears won their first five games that year, and they didn't just win them, they defeated their opponents by an average margin of 24 points.
At 5-0 the Bears visited the Arizona desert to take on the 1-4 Cardinals. Cardinal rookie Matt Leinart would be making his first start, and the crazy pregame television coverage focused on not if the Bears would win, but how badly they would beat their overmatched hosts.
How wrong everyone could have been...
Leinart and his offensive mates carved up the Bears in the first half, while Chicago starting quarterback Rex Grossman faltered. Grossman had been the subject of possible MVP conversations in the first five weeks of the season, but in the first half of the game was absolutely dreadful. At halftime, Arizona led the Bears 20-0. Toward the end of the third quarter the Cardinal lead was 23-3, and looked insurmountable.
Then, slowly, the Bear defense took control of the game. First, rookie defensive end Mark Anderson flattened Leinart with a blindside sack, forcing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown by Bear safety Mike Brown. Early in the fourth with the Cardinals running out the clock, Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher reached into a pile and ripped the ball out of the hands of Arizona's Edgerrin James, and that fumble was returned 40 yards for a touchdown by Charles Tillman. The score at that point was 23-17 Cardinals.
The Bear offense under Grossman still couldn't move the ball and score, but thanks to rookie phenom Devin Hester's second punt return touchdown of the season, this one a 83-yarder, the Bears climbed all the way back to take a 24-34 lead.
It wasn't over yet, though. The Cardinals drove to attempt a field goal in the final seconds. Despite the attempt being within kicker Neil Rackers' range, he missed it, and the Bears pulled out an improbable victory.
Following his team's loss, Cardinal coach Dennis Green went on a tirade that will be forever remembered by Bears fans, when he railed that if the media wanted to crown the Bears already, then why don't they go ahead and "Crown their Ass!"
10th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 33, Vikings 24: September 19, 1985
The McMahon miracle occurred on this Thursday night in Minnesota. McMahon had been standing on the sidelines until roughly halfway through the third period-banished there by coach Mike Ditka as he hadn't practiced most of the week. The failure to practice was due to painful back and neck issues McMahon was suffering through, some thought due to the head-butts he was inclined to share with offensive linemen.
Midway through the third period, the Steve Fuller-led Bears trailed the Vikings 17-9. Chicago's offense looked so stagnant that it seemed the Bears' miracle season would come off its tracks before it got started. Then, sick of McMahon harassing him all game, Ditka told his starter to "get his ass in there." The result? A 70-yard touchdown pass to Willie Gault on the first play after McMahon's entrance. Trailing 17-16, the Bears scored again on a 25-yard pass to Dennis McKinnon on McMahon's second play under center. On McMahon's eighth play in the game, he threw another 43-yard touchdown to McKinnon. The Bears led 30-17 after the passes en route to an improbable 33-24 victory.
The game was McMahon's first on national television. "Not too many people know about Jim McMahon," he said before the game. After this one, the nation certainly did.
9th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game Since 1979
Bears 27, Seahawks 24: NFC Divisional Playoff: January 14, 2007
This would be the third divisional playoff game the Bears would host in the decade. The first two ended in shocking Bears losses, so no one questioned Bear fans' cooncern prior to this game. The Seahawks were the defending NFC Champs, led by Mike Holmgren, but the Bears had trounced the visitors on national TV earlier in the 2006 season. The stage was set for the Bears' biggest game since the 1988 NFC Championship, as this time around Chicago held home field advantage throughout the playoffs. But that wouldn't matter if they couldn't win in the elusive divisional round.
The Bears scored first on a nine-yard rush by running back Thomas Jones. The Seahawks answered on a touchdown pass from Matt Hasselbeck to Nate Burleson. In the second quarter the crowd erupted after a 68-yard touchdown strike from Rex Grossman to Bernard Berrian down the middle of the field, but the Seahawks answered again with a Shaun Alexander touchdown run. But the Bears went up again before halftime on Jones' second touchdown of the game, and Chicago led 21-14 at the break.
The third quarter did not go the Bears' way, however. Seattle tied the score on Alexander's second touchdown rush, then they tacked on a field goal to lead the Bears 24-21. With the Bear offense seemingly stalled in the second half, things were again looking grim for the home team in the playoffs.
However, with the help of several huge defensive stops, most notably by linebacker Lance Briggs, the Bears were able to hold, and reliable Robbie Gould kicked the tying 41-yard field goal late in the game.
In overtime, receiver Rashied Davis perhaps saved the game by diving to catch a long pass from Grossman, which eventually set up a 49-yard field goal try by Gould to win the game. Over his two-year Bears career, Gould was nearly automatic in close, but Chicago rarely gave him attempts past 45 yards. With the dream season on the line, Gould nailed the kick, winning the Bears their first home playoff game since 1990 and only the third since 1986. The Bears would go on to host the New Orleans Saints in their first NFC Championship appearance in 18 years.
8th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game Since 1979
Bears 20, Eagles 12: NFC Divisional Playoff: December 31, 1988
In the game forever known internationally as "The Fog Bowl", the Bears would host a home playoff game for the fourth year in a row, and controlled home field advantage in the NFC playoffs after finishing the regular season with a 12-4 record. The Bears were on fire from 1984-1988, posting the most wins in history over a five year period (later broken in the 2000's by both New England and Indianapolis).
The 1988 regular season was filled with strife for the Bears. It was the first after the team had lost star players such as Wilber Marshall and Willie Gault to contract disputes, Walter Payton and Gary Fencik to retirement, and Richard Dent and William Perry to injury. Head Coach Mike Ditka suffered a heart attack and had to miss a game, and Chicago had suffered a particularly demoralizing loss at Minnesota in the final week of the season. Yet at the same time the Bears were finding new stars like running back Neal Anderson, and veterans such as Dennis Gentry, Mike Tomczak, Dave Duerson and Dan Hampton had solid years as usual. Additionally, linebacker Mike Singletary was voted the defensive player of the year.
Brewing like the clouds destined to blow in off Lake Michigan was also the ongoing feud between Ditka and Eagles coach Buddy Ryan. Emotion was off the charts prior to the game.
The day dawned bright, sunny and remarkably warm for New Years' Eve in Chicago with temperatures approaching the 50's. While visibility still existed on the field, the Bears scored on a 64-yard pass from Tomczak to receiver Dennis McKinnon and on a 4-yard inside trap by Anderson. During this time, Philadelphia could only muster three field goals. Late in the second quarter, a fog blew in off the lake, completely descending upon the field, and fans in the stands down to the players on the field couldn't see a thing--literally. Coordinators in the box couldn't see what was happening, coachs couldn't see into the middle of the field, and players couldn't see more than 10 yards ahead of themselves at field level.
Luckily for the Bears, they scored their touchdowns while it was possible, because in the second half it was clearly impossible. After halftime, the Eagles and Bears tacked on an additional field goal each, and the final score was 20-12 Bears.
The Fog Bowl has been featured on NFL Network's Top 10 Bad Weather Games, and apparently Eagles fans still feel that they were robbed of a victory because of the weather. I didn't know the weather was responsible for scoring and giving up points.
7th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game Since 1979
Bears 23, Redskins 19: NFC Divisional Playoff: December 30, 1984
The Bears were clearly building toward a championship run at some point by 1984, led by third-year coach Mike Ditka, Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, and one of the best draft classes (1983) in NFL history. But McMahon wouldn't even be a part of the equation for this game, as he was lost for the season with a lacerated kidney weeks prior. The Bears offense was a completely different and weaker animal under the control of backup Steve Fuller, who was rusty himself having not played since late November. And some fans & prognosticators felt the Bears were just destined to never win, like the 1984 Cubs who had choked away a 2-0 series lead in that year's NL Championship Series.
But the Bears had something the NFL was just discovering they posessed-the makings of the most ferocious defense the NFL had ever seen, led by safeties Todd Bell and Gary Fencik, linebackers Mike Singletary and Otis Wilson, and NFL sack leader Richard Dent. In fact, the 1984 Bears set the NFL's sack record for a season with 72, a mark that still stands. This wasn't even including rookie linebacker Wilber Marshall, who was just a role player in 1984.
After allowing an early Redskin field goal, the Bears matched with a kick of their own, then shocked their hosts when Payton threw a surprise touchdown pass to tight end Pat Dunsmore. Chicago led 10-3 at halftime.
Then on the first drive of the second half, a quick swing pass to receiver Willie Gault turned into a 75-yard touchdown romp after the speedster made one spin move on the Washington cornerback. Later in the third the Bears looked firmly in control after a Fuller to Dennis McKinnon touchdown pass gave them a commanding 23-10 lead.
In the fourth, Washington scored a touchdown to bring the score as close as 23-17. Late in the period, with the Bears pinned inside their endzone and punting, Ditka made a calculated gamble and asked punter Dave Finzer to step out of the endzone, taking a safety and giving up 2 points for better field position.
After kicking back to Washington the Bear defense held firm, and Chicago shocked the favored Redskins 23-19 in their first playoff win since 1963.
6th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game Since 1979
Bears 37, 49ers 31: October 28, 2001
This matchup featured two of the surprise teams of the NFC in 2001, with the Bears and 49ers both holding 4-1 records. Perhaps this game would figure later into who was one of the most dominant teams in the conference that season. But on this day it would end as one of the most memorable games in Chicago Bears History.
Chicago was faced with stiff competition and went down fast early. San Francisco scored two touchdowns to take a 14-0 lead in the first period, the first on a Julian Peterson fumble return after he hit and caused a fumble on Bears starting quarterback Jim Miller. The hit injured Miller's ribs, and he was replaced by the far more weak-armed Shane Matthews. The second 49er touchdown came on a one-yard pass from quarterback Jeff Garcia to Justin Swift.
In the secondd period the Bears recovered somewhat, scoring two points on a safety, and a touchdown on a Daimon Shelton run. But from halftime to the middle of the fourth quarter was all San Francisco; with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game they held a commanding 31-16 lead, and the situation looked bleak for the Bears. Some Soldier Field fans departed.
The rest of the game would cause controversey among 49er fans and observers. Coaches Steve Mariucci of the 49ers and Dick Jauron of the Bears were friends and colleagues dating to 1992 in Green Bay, and in retrospect Mariucci was accused of going easy on his old friend. During this time the seemingly weak-armed Matthews threw two touchdown passes to rookie receiver David Terrell, and after these the Bears suddenly trailed only by a score of 31-29. With seconds remaining they would have to score a two-point conversion simply to put the game into overtime, let alone win. On the conversion try, offensive coordinator John Shoop called an inside run to rookie back Anthony Thomas, who plunged into the end zone to tie the game. The play was reviewed to check if Thomas' knee was down, but the play stood.
The Bears lost the ensuing coin toss and would kick to the 49ers, who set up at their own 33-yard line, just 27 yards out of field goal range. On the very first play from scrimmage in overtime, 49er Pro Bowlers Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens attempted to hook up on a pass over the middle. Routine stuff. But at the point of the reception, Owens was smashed by second-year Bear linebacker Brian Urlacher. The ball popped loose, right into the hands of Bear safety Mike Brown. Brown dashed to the right sideline and ran past all San Francisco defenders to the end zone, where he fell. The Bears had pulled off a highly unlikely win just 16 seconds into the overtime period, which Beat the 1980 Bears' record for shortest overtime victory.
Fifth Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game Since 1979
Bears 27, Browns 21: November 4, 2001
Hard to choose, of course, between the 2001 miracle games as to which was more amazing. Actually for me it isn't, I believe hands-down the Cleveland miracle game was more amazing.
I've been going to Chicago Bears games at Soldier Field for 31 years as of 2010, as of 2001 it had been 23 years. And in all the years before, and all the years since, I have still not met a worse crowd than the Cleveland fans that day. But we had the last laugh.
The Bears looked pretty miserable throughout that game. The contest started just as the prior miracle against San Francisco had-with Chicago's quarterback getting hit, fumbling, and the fumble being returned for a touchdown by the opposition. This time only the quarterback was different: with Jim Miller still out with a rib injury, Shane Matthews started for the Bears and looked shaky in regulation. Not from a stats standpoint-he finished with 357 yards on 50 attempts but threw three interceptions.
What counted was that with less than two minutes to go in regulation the Bears trailed their guests 21-7. The Cleveland fans were loud and obnoxious, one of them climbing up my row to insult Bears fans en masse (until I called security over on him). But with 28 seconds on the clock, Matthews hit Marty Booker on a touchdown pass to bring the Bears within 7. Now all the Bears would have to do would be to successfully kick onsides, get the ball back and score another touchdown, just to tie the game. The Soldier Field crowed amped up when yes, Chicago did successfully recover the onside kick.
The Bears had the ball on Cleveland's 47 and one timeout, and after two short passes to running back James Allen, the Bears were ready to take a final hail mary shot with 34 yards in front of them to the end zone. Matthews dropped back and lofted the ball to the right side of the end zone into a maze of defenders. The ball was tipped, and again James Allen dove into position to catch the ball. He grabbed it, and after the extra point the score was indeed tied 21-21. Many, many Bears fans had left by this point, but those that remained absolutely erupted.
In overtime the Bears failed to move the ball and punted to the Browns. On third down, Cleveland's Tim Couch attempted a pass to his left, but the ball was batted high in the air by Bear defensive end Bryan Robinson. As the crowd followed the ball, individuals may not have noticed who was running with perfect timing to pluck it out of the air. It was none other than safety Mike Brown, hero of the previous week. Brown dashed untouched into the end zone, and continued running straight into the locker room as Soldier Field rocked. The Bears won their second consecutive overtime thriller, this on with a score of 27-21.
One of these games in a season would be amazing. Two in a season would be unbelievable. But two in successive weeks? Unthinkable. And amazing.
Fourth Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game Since 1979
Colts 29, Bears 17: Super Bowl 41: February 4, 2007
The Bears were back in the Super Bowl. I repeat, the Bears were back in the Super Bowl for the first time in 21 years. It seems like a dream. It was a wonderful two weeks leading up to the big game to bask in Bear womderment in frigid Chicago. My pick was that if the weather was ugly in rainy Miami, which should have slowed down Peyton Manning's attack, and if the Bears could score first, they would win.
Those things happened, but the Bears didn't win.
The game opened with one of the most thrilling moments any Bears fan has witnessed. Rookie phenom Devin Hester stood to receive the opening kickoff of the game, and all Indianapolis eyes were on him as he had already scored on six return touchdowns in the regular season. But they watched in amazement as no matter how they tried, they could not bring him down. Hester first took the kick straight up the middle, paused, then turned on the jets up the right sideline, 92 yards for the first opening kickoff touchdown return in NFL history.
The Bears played solid defense in the beginning of the game, holding until Manning hit Reggie Wayne on a 53-yard touchdown pass aided by blown coverage by Chicago rookie safety Danieal Manning. But the football gods seemed to be smiling on the Bears when Indianapolis missed the extra point.
The Bears still led 7-6 and added seven more points to that lead when quarterback Rex Grossman hit wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad on a touchdown pass.
But the game unraveled from there. Indianapolis scored four times in a row, leading 22-14 in the third, until the Bears drew within five points on a Robbie Gould field goal.
At this point Grossman began to press, as Bear fans learned in late 2006 and beyond he had a tendency to do. All but abandoning the running game in the driving rain, Grossman threw and threw, eventually tossing the ball into the hands of Colt defensive back Kelvin Hayden, who returned the gift 56 yards for the clinching Colt touchdown. The Bear magic of 2006 was over.
After the game, Bear defenders gathered at the end of the field, telling each other they wanted to watch the Colts celebrate, so the Bears would know how to do it "next time." So far there has not been a "next time" for the Bears in the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl, three years removed from that night that started so magically.
Third Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game Since 1979
Bears 39, Saints 14: NFC Championship Game: January 21, 2007
The Bears were hosting the NFC Championship game for the first time since the 1988 season, coming off their first home playoff win since defeating the New Orleans Saints in January 1991. The Saints were media darlings, given all that the city of New Orleans endured in 2005, as if the city's football team were directly connected to the events the populace endured. Every ESPN prognosticator polled picked the Saints to defeat the host Bears. How wrong they were.
New Orleans' offense was high-powered indeed, led by quarterback Drew Brees and rookie running back Reggie Bush and receiver Marques Colston. On the first drive of the game, Colston caught a Brees pass, but was stripped by the opportunistic Bears defense. Chicago converted the turnover into a Robbie Gould field goal, and would tack on two more, leading 9-0 in the second period. The Saints offense was stuck in neutral, meanwhile, and after Bear runner Thomas Jones almost single-handedly moved the ball down the field nearing halftime leading to a touchdown, the Bears led 16-0. The Saints marched back just before the break, however, scoring a touchdown to make the score 16-7 at halftime.
In the third quarter each teams' fortunes were completely reversed. After Reggie Bush took a swing pass an bolted past Bear linebacker Brian Urlacher for an 88-yard touchdown, the Bears looked as if they were in deep trouble, their lead whittled to 16-14. But Bush made a mistake, taunting Urlacher and flipping head over back into the end zone. Whether the taunting turned the Bears' emotions is unknown, but it was after that play the Bears' fortunes turned again to the positive side.
After a Bear possession, punter Brad Maynard pinned the Saints close to their own end zone, and Brees was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, which is a safety. After this, the Bears sailed, starting with a 33-yard Bernard Berrian touchdown pass from Grossman, then rushing touchdowns by Jones and Cedric Benson nailed the Saints' coffin shut.
After the Bears ran out the final seconds of the clock in "victory formation," Grossman hurled the ball into the stands, releasing pent up aggression from a season that was sometimes magical, sometimes downright awful for the quarterback. Just after time expired, silver and orange confetti was blown out of cannons on the edge of the field, then former Cowboy Tony Dorsett presented the George S. Halas NFC Championship trophy to Halas' daughter Virginia. A party ensued in Chicago, one not seen in town since another snowy day in 1986.
Second Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game Since 1979
Bears 24, Rams 0: NFC Championship: January 12, 1986
The stage was set for the Chicago Bears to return to the NFL Championship game for the first time since 1963. Most everyone in the nation did believe that the Bears would win. Most, that is, other than famous prognosticator Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder, who sat on the Soldier Field sidelines just prior to gametime and predicted the Rams would upset the home team. Those that did give Los Angeles a shot pointed to Ram running back Eric Dickerson's 248 yards rushing the previous week against Dallas. But as we saw earlier in the season, the Bears were in a different class than the Cowboys in 1985.
Dickerson mustered only 46 yards and fumbled twice in the Bears devastating 24-0 victory. The Rams could only muster 130 total yards and crossed the Bear 35 only once, after the Bears fumbled a punt. Leading 17-0 with the final minutes in the game ticking off, a light snow began to fall. Players began to celebrate on the sideline. Ram quarterback Dieter Brock dropped back to pass, was hit and stripped, and the fumble was picked up by lightning-fast Bear linebacker Wilber Marshall. Marshall raced 52 yards for the Bears final touchdown, led at times by rookie phenom William Perry, in one of the most indelible scenes in Chicago Bears history.
After the game, Bear defensive lineman Dan Hampton was asked when he thought the Bears took control of the line of scrimmage. His answer: "Kickoff." That's exactly how the game went.
Bear quarterback Jim McMahon also put on an unforgettable performance, on the sideline as well as off the field. Prior to the conference championship game, McMahon was warned about wearing his trademark "Adidas" headband by NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, and the quarterback responded by donning a headband that read "Rozelle." "[McMahon] was a crazy nut out there," Bear Hall of Famer Walter Payton said, "he did everything but take his clothes off."
The streets of Chicago were happily mad after the victory, and it would only get better two weeks later.
Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game Since 1979
Bears 46, Patriots 10: Super Bowl 20: January 26, 1986
Probably pretty anti-climatic to end this series this way, since I'm sure everyone already knew that Super Bowl 20 was the greatest and most memorable Bears game played in the last 32 years.
Chicago Bears players traveled to New Orleans for Super Bowl 20 the week before the event, and later in the week with them came thousands of Chicagoans. Bear players were routinely seen savoring the Bourbon Street night life while their Patriot counterparts laid low. A minor controversy brewed the week before the game, when New Orleans television personality Buddy Dilberto took to the air and claimed that Bears quarterback Jim McMahon called the people of New Orleans stupid and the women sluts. (Dilberto later recanted his statement). By gametime, players were roundly ready to take care of the business at hand.
And take care of it the Bears did, but not before an early scare. On the first posession of the game, Bear great Walter Payton took a handoff and fumbled, and the ball was recovered by the Patriots. Several plays later, New England quarterback Tony Easton fired a pass on a slant that would have gone for a touchdown if not dropped by the Patriot receiver. The opponents settled for a field goal, and New England led 3-0 early in the game.
Some Bears players looked at the scoreboard, which showed that the vast majority of the time, the team that scores first in the Super Bowl wins.
But the contest wasn't a game for very much longer. Within five minutes the Bears drove for a field goal to even the score. By the end of the first quarter the score was 13-3 Bears. It was 23-3 at halftime, 44-3 in the fourth quarter, and in the end, after the Bears tacked on a safety for good measure, the Bears had defeated their opponents by the largest margin in history, 46-10.
Along the way the Bears had fun as only the 1985 team could. Ditka had William Perry attempt a pass (before he was sacked), and McMahon wore several more personalized headbands. Running back Matt Suhey scored two toucdowns and "The Fridge" (Perry) one, but sadly Payton was not able to score, as New England planned their defense around stopping him.
The Patriots were limited to only 123 total yards and set numerous records for offensive futility in the contest, including their rushing yards total for the day (7).
The next day the Bears were treated to a ticker-tape parade in the city of Chicago, when over 500,000 people turned out in a six-block area to brave frigid temperatures and cheer on their World Champion Chicago Bears.