This page is being redesigned and will be added to the site in the near future. For now, the original story is below. The new page is being redesigned to equal the current "enhanced" stories on the 1979-1985, '91-92, 2001 and 2005 pages.
The 1990 Chicago Bears
by Roy Taylor,
In August, 1990, after the Bears had returned to Lake Forest from training camp in Platteville, Mike Ditka called Mike Tomczak and Jim Harbaugh into his office. It was time to make a decision as to who his starting quarterback would be. The pair had split time in 1989, and neither had performed spectacularly. "You both played well, but Jim played better, he's the starter," Ditka said. So it was decided that Harbaugh was the future, and the future was now.
Coming off a 6-10 season in 1989, the team's worst since 1982, many predicted the Bears to finish last in the NFC Central. Also serving as a bad omen during camp in 1990 was Neal Anderson's holdout. Anderson had emerged as one of the best all-purpose backs in the NFL in his two years as a starter, and was demanding to be paid as such. Observers wondered after letting stars such as Marshall and Gualt go, would they let Anderson walk as well? Luckily, the answer this time was no. Chicago signed the lifeblood of their offense to a four-year multi-million dollar deal, despite the rumors of a Dan Marino for Neal Anderson trade that were being whispered.
The biggest question for the beginning of the 90's was the always-proud Bear defense. Dominant throughout the 80's, the defense had fallen from 2nd overall in the NFL in 1988, to 25th overall in 1989. In the '90 draft, Chicago had picked safety Mark Carrier from USC with the 6th pick, their highest since 1982 when they drafted Jim McMahon. The Bears pulled a draft-day shocker when they announced that Carrier was signed even before they made the pick. This move was due to costly holdouts with Trace Armstrong and Donnell Woolford the year before. By the season opener, the team was ready for the challenges ahead.
All questions about the defense were answered on opening day as they shutout Seattle 17-0, holding the Seahawks to less than 50 yards rushing for the day. The defense proved equally dominant the next two games in wins over division rivals Green Bay and Minnesota. Then the team went to Los Angeles and were beat 24-10 by the Raiders. Questions arose-in '89 the team had started 4-0 before the season was lost-this year they only won 3. This would not happen in 1990, however, as they ripped off 6 straight impressive wins. Neal Anderson was lighting up the scoreboard, and Jim Harbaugh was impressing with his mistake-free play. During periods of the 1990 season, Harbaugh threw just one interception in 243 attempts, and set a club record by attempting 173 straight without a pick. Chicago dominated in wins at home over Green Bay and the LA Rams, then went to Phoenix, rushed for over 200 yards, and the entire offensive line was named NFC offensive player of the week. After Phoenix, Chicago hosted Atlanta, filled with boisterous players such as "Neon" Deion Sanders, and led by flamboyant coach Jerry Glanville. Atlanta guaranteed a victory. On the Bears' side, cornerback Lemuel Stinson countered by guaranteeing that he would intercept two passes-which he indeed did. Chicago won, 30-24. Stinson was on a tear all year-he had interceptions in the first three games, one against Green Bay, and the two against Atlanta. He was leading the NFC in this statistic when he tore up his knee in an overtime win against Denver, and was lost for the season.
The win over Denver was impressive, then the team was embarassed 41-13 at Minnesota on Thanksgiving weekend. The following week, Chicago played cat-and-mouse with Detroit, and the game ended tied at 17 at the end of regulation. Then the city was reminded once again of the importance of one Neal Anderson. On a third down late in the overtime period, Anderson caught a 50-yard TD on a fly pattern from Jim Harbaugh to win the game. The team was on a roll, and after 12 games, stood at 10-2. The wind began to come out of their sails on December 9th. Despite three interceptions by NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year Mark Carrier (Carrier tied an NFL record with 10 interceptions that year), Chicago lost to Washington 10-9, then lost at Detroit, 38-21. At Detroit, Jim Harbaugh suffered a seperated shoulder, and the reigns were turned over to Mike Tomczak. Chicago defeated Tampa Bay 27-14, then lost to Kansas City in the finale, 21-10, behind a miserable performance by Mike Tomczak. After the 1990 regular season, the Bears stood at 11-5 and clinched their 6th NFC Central Championship in 7 years, a feat many of their critics argued would never happen. New Orleans rolled into town for the NFC Wild Card the following week, January 6th.
For the final time in the 1990 season, the team played together in the Wild Card playoff game. Chicago defeated the Saints 16-6 behind a strong performance by Neal Anderson. The halfback rushed for 102 yards and completed a 22 yard pass. The defense also impressed with 3 interceptions by Mark Carrier, Shaun Gayle, and rookie John Mangum. After the Saints victory, Chicago traveled to New York to face the Giants. New York was a heavy favorite heading into the game in the chilly Meadowlands, but Mike Ditka felt his team was playing together and would rise to the occasion. The Bears had several opportunities in the first quarter, driving deep into New York territory on both trips. The second time, Ditka decided to go for the touchdown on fourth-and-one from the Giant one. Ditka called an "option-draw" play to fullback Brad Muster, who was stuffed. The running game never got untracked, and the Bears lost 30-3 to the eventual Super Bowl champions. © 2000-2014 Roy Taylor