1985: ‘World War III without nuclear weapons”
The long-standing Bears-Packers rivalry boiled over at Lambeau Field in 1985, when the middling Packers under Forrest Gregg took particular umbrage at the Mike Ditka-fueled Bears’ brash in-your-face style as they became the scourge of the NFL.
After bad feelings were stoked in the Bears’ 23-7 victory over the Packers at Soldier Field on Oct. 21, 1985 — “Remember this game,” Gregg told his team afterward — the rematch 13 days later at Lambeau quickly degenerated into a series of cheap shots, penalties and altercations.
Packers rookie cornerback Ken Stills leveled Matt Suhey well after the whistle.
Packers safety Mark Lee was ejected for driving Walter Payton over the Bears’ bench as the two players battled heading out of bounds.
There were other battles: Keith Van Horne vs. Robert Brown. Charles Martin vs. Jimbo Covert. Otis Wilson vs. Rob Hallstrom. There were 136 yards in penalties in the game, and that seemed like light punishment.
“It was just nasty,” linebacker Mike Singletary said after the game.
“This was World War III without nuclear weapons,” Ditka said. “It was fun to play. I’m sure it was more fun to win.”
The Bears did that, but barely. Payton rushed for 192 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown with 10:31 to play to make the difference in a literally hard-fought 16-10 victory. The Bears were 9-0 and on their way to the Super Bowl. Ditka ended up 7-1 against Forrest Gregg and 15-5 against the Packers as the Bears’ head coach.
Top 10: Memorable individual performances at Lambeau Field
1. Walter Payton accounts for 206 of the Bears’ 253 net yards (82.2 percent) — including 192 rushing yards and a 27-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter — in a 16-10 victory in 1985.
2. Gale Sayers rushes for franchise-record 205 yards on 24 carries and adds a 46-yard kickoff return that set up a touchdown — making up for three fumbles — in a 13-10 victory in 1968.
3. Payton ties Sayers’ record with 205 rushing yards — 117 in the first quarter; 162 in the first half — and scores two touchdowns in a 26-0 victory in 1977.
4. Eight days after being acquired in a trade, Khalil Mack has a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and returns an interception for a touchdown — all in the first half — of a 24-23 loss in 2018.
5. Kevin Butler kicks a 52-yard field goal on the final play of the game — his fourth field goal — to give the Bears a 26-24 victory in 1987.
6. Tom Hicks returns an interception 66 yards for a touchdown in a 15-14 victory in 1979 that kept the Bears’ playoff hopes alive with one week to go. They won the following week for their second playoff appearance since 1963.
7. Quarterback Bobby Douglass rushes for 100 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries — and throws for 118 yards — in a 31-17 victory in 1973.
8. Josh McCown, starting for the injured Jay Cutler, throws for 272 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-20 upset in 2013.
9. Dick Gordon catches five passes from Jack Concannon for 158 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown in a 20-19 loss in 1970.
10. Marcus Robinson’s only two receptions go for touchdowns of 68 and 58 yards as Cade McNown outduels Brett Favre in a 27-24 victory in 2000.
1999: Walter Payton provides a ‘lift’ from the heavens
Defensive tackle Bryan Robinson provided one of the Bears’ most memorable moments at Lambeau Field.
On Nov. 7, 1999 — after a week of mourning at Halas Hall following the death of Walter Payton — Robinson blocked Ryan Longwell’s 28-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the game to give the Bears an emotional 14-13 victory over the Packers.
“I think Walter Payton actually picked me up a little and boosted me into the air,” said Robinson, believing every word. “I know he did because I can’t jump that high.”
That wasn’t the only evidence of help from above. Earlier in the fourth quarter, kicker Chris Boniol missed a 34-yard field goal that would have given the Bears a 17-13 lead and forced Brett Favre and the Packers to score a touchdown instead of a field goal to win.
Favre methodically drove the Packers downfield, where they settled for the chip-shot field goal attempt. Had they needed a touchdown, there is little doubt Favre — who had beaten the Bears 10 consecutive times — would have marched the Packers to victory. Boniol’s missed field goal made all the difference.
Bears-Packers at Lambeau: City Stadium opens with an upset
The opening of new City Stadium in Green Bay on Sept. 29, 1957, was a monumental event. It was the first stadium built specifically for an NFL team, cementing Green Bay as the Packers’ home. And the Bears helped make it even bigger.
As defending Western Conference champions favored to reach the NFL championship game, the Bears were two-touchdown favorites against the Packers, who were in a dead period between the Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi eras and coming off a 4-8 season.
Before a sell-out crowd of 32,132 that included vice-president Richard Nixon, Bears rookie Vic Zucco intercepted Bart Starr in the first quarter to help stake the Bears to a 7-0 lead, but the Packers rallied to stun the Bears 21-17. The Packers won only two more games the rest of the season. The Bears never recovered, finishing 5-7 under Paddy Driscoll. It led George Halas out of another retirement in 1958 for a last hurrah.
City Stadium was renamed Lambeau Field in 1965, following Curly Lambeau’s death. It has become one of the most historic venues in the history of American sports. And the Packers have done a great job of maintaining the character and history of the stadium as it has been expanded to its current seating capacity of 81,441, which is third largest in the NFL. It’s yet another lesson the Bears can take from the Packers.
One for the book: Mac Percival’s free kick FG
The Bears took advantage of an obscure NFL rule that was ancient even in 1968 to beat the Packers 13-10 at Lambeau Field that season — the old fair catch free kick.
In the waning moments of a 10-10 game — with no overtime — the Bears’ Cecil Turner called for a fair catch of a 28-yard punt by Donny Anderson at the Packers’ 43-yard line with 26 seconds left. By rule, the fair catch gave the Bears an opportunity for a “free kick” — a field goal attempt at the point of the fair catch with no rush from the opponent.
Percival, who had a kick blocked previously in the game, booted the 43-yarder through the uprights to give the Bears the victory over the two-time defending Super Bowl champions in a matchup of first-year head coaches — the Bears’ Jim Dooley vs. the Packers’ Phil Bengsten.
Percival’s free kick field goal shared the spotlight with Gale Sayers, who rushed for a career-best 205 yards and returned a kickoff 46 yards to set up a touchdown.
It was a poetic turnabout for the Bears. Four years earlier, Paul Hornung booted a 52-yard field goal on a free kick at the end of the first half in a 23-12 Packers victory over the defending NFL champion Bears at then-New City Stadium.