With nine league championships, 28 Hall of Fame players and George Halas’ huge hand in shaping the existence of the National Football League, the Bears’ 99-year history has been one continuous run of indelible moments — from triumph to tragedy, ecstasy to agony, glory to ignominy. In good times and bad, the Bears rarely have been boring.
For dominance in a championship moment, the Bears arguably are the standard-bearers in two eras of the NFL — indisputably in the formative years with the 73-0 rout of the Redskins in the 1940 NFL championship game. And if the 46-10 victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl XX isn’t the most dominant performance of the Super Bowl era, it almost certainly is the most compelling. That championship team was not only a local treasure, but a national phenomenon.
Those two defining championships were clearly the front-runners in the Sun-Times’ list of 100 memorable moments in Bears history, each with a solid case for No. 1. Mike Ditka’s Super Bowl XX team was the choice over George Halas’ 1940 team for a simple reason — the worldwide popularity of the Super Bowl-era NFL, fueled by the unlimited reach of television, dwarfs anything that came before it. Both events measured on the Richter scale of American sports. But if the 1940 team was an 8.1, the Super Bowl Bears were a 9.5.
While the top half of this list is loaded with no-brainers, choosing memorable moments is a subjective endeavor. A clarification: This is a list almost exclusively of moments rather than eras or seasons.
But by any measurement, the list is a fitting tribute to the great history of the Bears. Look at events that didn’t make it: the Calvin Johnson game; Eddie Jackson’s game with 75- and 76-yard touchdown returns; Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman’s back-to-back pick-sixes; Chester Marcol’s touchdown in 1980; Devin Hester’s two kick-return touchdowns against the Broncos; the first college all-star game in 1934; the 61-7 rout of the Vikings in 1980; Johnny Knox’s career-ending injury; the firing of Lovie Smith; the Pearl Harbor game against the Cardinals; anything else that happened in a Bears-Packers game. They weren’t on this list, but they certainly could be on yours.
With that in mind — hold your fire — here’s the Sun-Times’ list of 100 memorable moments in Bears history:
1. Bears rout Patriots 46-10 to win Super Bowl XX
Culminating a dominant, glorious season of worldwide rock-star fame, the Bears are even better than advertised on the NFL’s biggest stage on Jan. 26, 1986, at the Louisiana Superdome. Led by MVP Richard Dent (sack, forced fumble), the Bears’ suffocating defense under coordinator Buddy Ryan obliterates the Patriots from all angles with seven sacks, four fumble recoveries and two interceptions, staking a claim as the best in NFL history.
2. Bears annihilate Redskins 73-0 to win 1940 NFL championship
In a stunning display of prowess, inventiveness and fortitude, the Bears unleash the full force and fury of the T formation and parlay Bill Osmanski’s 82-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage into the biggest rout in NFL history on Dec. 8, 1940, at Griffith Stadium. The victory avenges a 7-3 loss to the Redskins at Griffith Stadium three weeks earlier, when Redskins owner George Preston Marshall called the Bears crybabies and quitters. George Halas had his team primed to exact revenge in spectacular fashion.
3. Bears beat Giants 14-10 to win 1963 NFL championship
In frozen conditions tailor-made for a dominant Bears defense on Dec. 28, 1963, at Wrigley Field, the Bears intercept Y.A. Tittle five times to give George Halas his first NFL title since 1946. Both touchdowns by quarterback Bill Wade are sneaks set up by interception returns — by linebacker Larry Morris (61 yards) to the 5-yard line in the first quarter and defensive end Ed O’Bradovich (10 yards) to the 14 in the third. Interceptions by Bennie McRae and Richie Petitbon in the fourth seal the 68-year-old Halas’ eighth NFL -championship.
4. Red Grange signs with Bears, 1925
A sensational running back at Illinois, second only to Babe Ruth in nationwide popularity, Red Grange ends a week of coast-to-coast speculation by signing with the Bears on Nov. 22, 1925 — a day after Illinois’ season ended. He signs for a reported $2,000 a game and a graduated share of gate receipts.
5. Red Grange fills Cubs Park in Bears debut
Four days after the Bears drew 7,500 fans to Cubs Park the day he signed, they draw an overflow crowd of 36,000 for Grange’s NFL debut on Nov. 26, 1925. He gains 92 yards in a 0-0 tie with the rival Cardinals.
6. Sid Luckman leads Bears to 1943 NFL title
At the peak of his powers at 27, Luckman culminates the best season of his Hall of Fame career, throwing a championship-game-record five touchdown passes and intercepting two passes in a 41-21 rout of the Redskins on Dec. 26, 1943, at Wrigley Field. With George Halas serving in the Navy but in attendance, the Bears’ dynasty reaches a peak — three titles and four championship-game appearances in four seasons. Under co-coaches Hunk Anderson and Luke Johnsos, the Bears (9-1-1) outscored their opponents 354-178 and avenged their only regular-season loss.
7. Bears win 1933 NFL championship
In the first scheduled postseason championship game in NFL history, the Bears under George Halas beat the Giants 23-21 before 25,000 fans at Wrigley Field on Dec. 17, 1933, in a pass-happy thriller with six lead changes that helped push the pro game past the college game in popularity. Bill Hewitt’s cross-field lateral to Bill Karr completed a 32-yard touchdown play in the final minutes to give the Bears the lead. Red Grange’s tackle of Dale Burnett saved a sure touchdown on the final play. The winner’s share was $210.34 per man.
8. Bears win 1941 NFL championship
Two weeks after the Pearl Harbor attack, the Bears (12-1) confirm their league dominance — with a team considered even better than the 1940 champions — in a 37-9 victory over the Giants before a disappointing crowd of 13,341 at Wrigley Field on Dec. 21, 1941. With the game tied 9-9, fullback Norm Standlee scores two touchdowns around a Danny Fortmann interception to give the Bears a 23-9 lead, and the rout was on.
9. Gale Sayers makes history
Rookie running back Gale Sayers, already a sensation with his incomparable running style, scores an NFL-record-tying six touchdowns in a 61-20 victory over the 49ers in the slop at Wrigley Field on Dec. 12, 1965. Sayers scores on runs of 21 yards, seven yards, 50 yards and one yard, on an 80-yard pass from Rudy Bukich and on an 85-yard punt return.
10. Brian Piccolo dies of cancer at 26
An undrafted running back from Wake Forest in 1965 who endeared himself to teammates and fans with his grit, determination and personality, Piccolo went from the taxi squad as a rookie to a starter in 1968. But in 1969, he took himself out of a game against the Atlanta Falcons because of a bad cough and later was diagnosed with cancer — embryonal cell carcinoma. After four surgeries, Piccolo died on June 16, 1970.
11. George Halas returns as coach; Bears win 1946 NFL title
Sid Luckman runs 19 yards for a touchdown on a dazzling keeper in the fourth quarter to break a 14-14 tie, and the Bears avenge a rare shutout loss (14-0) in the regular season with a 24-14 victory over the Giants before a championship-game-record crowd of 58,346 at the Polo Grounds on Dec. 15, 1946, for their fourth NFL title in seven years.
12. Bears clear path to 1963 title
In one of the most anticipated regular-season games in NFL history — $5 tickets were being scalped for $75 — the Bears beat the defending NFL champion Packers 26-7 in a nationally televised game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 17, 1963. The Packers had won eight straight since losing to the Bears 10-3 in Green Bay in the season opener.
13. Walter Payton dies at 45
The legendary Hall of Famer, arguably the most complete running back in NFL history, was an active and vibrant personality in retirement until late in 1998, before announcing in February 1999 that he had a rare liver disease that required a transplant. He developed bile-duct cancer, a complication that precluded a transplant as an option, and died on Nov. 1, 1999, with a legacy that includes the NFL’s Man of the Year Award being named after him.
14. Bears win 1932 NFL championship game at Chicago Stadium
Playing on an 80-yard (45 yards wide) dirt field indoors at the Stadium because of snow and cold weather in Chicago, the Bears beat the Portsmouth Spartans 9-0 on Dec. 18, 1932, before a near-sellout crowd of 11,198. Bronko Nagurski’s fullback pass to Red Grange for a two-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter breaks a scoreless tie. The Spartans were without All-Pro quarterback Dutch Clark, who was unable to get away from his job as basketball coach at Colorado College to play in the game.
15. Bears lose Super Bowl XLI
Devin Hester’s 92-yard kickoff return gets the Bears off to a roaring start, but they falter in a 29-17 loss to the Colts on Feb. 4, 2007, at Dolphin Stadium. With the Bears trailing 22-17 in the fourth quarter, Rex Grossman’s interception is returned 57 yards by Chicagoan Kelvin Hayden to all but end the Bears’ Super Bowl hopes.
16. Walter Payton sets NFL rushing record
On a six-yard run early in the third quarter against the Saints on Oct. 7, 1984, at Soldier Field, Walter Payton breaks Jim Brown’s career rushing record (12,312 yards). He finishes with 154 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries to give him 12,400 career rushing yards six games into his 10th NFL season. It’s his 59th career 100-yard game, also breaking Brown’s NFL record.
17. Devin Hester starts Super Bowl XLI with a bang
With the spotlight on him after a sensational rookie season in which he scored on six returns — three kickoffs, two punts and a 108-yard return of a missed field goal — Devin Hester stuns the Colts by returning the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI 92 yards for a touchdown on Feb. 4, 2007, at Dolphin Stadium. It’s the first opening-kickoff return for a touchdown in Super Bowl history.
18. Gale Sayers out for year
The most spectacular running back in football, leading the league in rushing, averaging 6.2 yards per carry and coming off a career-high 205-yard game against the Packers, is lost for the season on Nov. 10, 1968, after he suffers torn ligaments in his right knee when tackled by 49ers defensive back Kermit Alexander on a sweep. Sayers is replaced by Brian Piccolo.
19. Sid Luckman’s record-setting day
Sid Luckman sets NFL records with seven touchdown passes and 453 passing yards in a 56-7 rout of the Giants on Nov. 14, 1943, at the Polo Grounds. The previous record for passing yards in a game was 338. The Bears also set an NFL record with 702 total yards, breaking their record of 613 set in 1941.
20. Bears advance to Super Bowl XX
Wilber Marshall’s 52-yard touchdown on a fumble return with snow falling at Soldier Field puts the finishing touches on a 24-0 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 12, 1986. It’s the Bears’ second consecutive postseason shutout after beating the Giants 21-0 the previous week.
21. Bears beat Packers in 1941 playoff game
A week after the U.S. entered World War II, Don Hutson drops a likely touchdown pass that would have given the Packers a 14-0 lead, Hugh Gallarneau returns the ensuing punt 82 yards for a touchdown, and the Bears roll to a 30-7 halftime lead en route to a 33-14 victory on Dec. 14, 1941, before 43,425 at Wrigley Field for the Western Division championship and a berth in the NFL title game against the Giants.
22. Walter Payton goes for 275 yards
Weakened by a flu bug, Walter Payton gains 275 yards on 40 carries in a 10-7 victory over the Vikings on Nov. 20, 1977, at Soldier Field, breaking O.J. Simpson’s NFL single-game rushing record of 273. In back-to-back weeks, Payton rushes for 467 yards to jump ahead of Simpson’s record pace of 2,003 yards in a season. He finished with 1,852 and won the NFL MVP award.
23. Unbeaten Bears lose 1934 NFL championship game
After a magnificent 13-0 regular season behind rookie running back Beattie Feathers, the Bears were on the verge of being crowned one of the best teams of all time when they flopped in the title game with a 30-13 loss to the Giants on an icy field at the Polo Grounds on Dec. 9, 1934. The Bears led 10-3 at halftime, but Giants coach Steve Owen famously acquired rubber-soled basketball shoes — stolen from Manhattan College’s basketball team — and the Giants, with better footing, dominated the second half, outscoring the Bears 27-0 in the fourth quarter.
24. The ‘Miracle in the Desert’
Mike Brown and Charles Tillman return fumbles for touchdowns, Devin Hester returns a punt 83 yards for a touchdown with 2:58 to play and Brian Urlacher has 25 tackles as the Bears rally from a 23-3 deficit in the final 15:02 to beat the Cardinals 24-23 in the “Miracle in the Desert” on “Monday Night Football” at University of Phoenix Stadium on Oct. 16, 2006.
25. Willie Galimore, Bo Farrington die in car accident
The defending NFL champion Bears are stunned by the tragic loss of running back Willie Galimore and wide receiver Bo Farrington, both 28, who were killed in a car accident at training camp in Rensselaer, Indiana, on July 27, 1964, losing control of a Volkswagen Beetle on an unmarked S-curve. “This was the saddest day in Bears history,” coach George Halas tells his team the next day. The impact is undeniable. The Bears, 11-1-2 the previous year, lose seven of their first nine games and finish 5-9.
26. Decatur Staleys are born
George Halas represents the Staley Manufacturing Company at the American Professional Football Association (APFA) meeting at Ralph Hay’s automobile showroom on Sept. 17, 1920. The membership fee was $100 per team.
27. ‘And the Chicago Bears have won the wild card’
On a snow-covered and icy, field at the Meadowlands on Dec. 18, 1977, Bob Thomas kicks a 28-yard field goal with four seconds left in overtime to give the Bears a 12-9 victory over the Giants to clinch a wild-card berth, completing a mad dash of seven consecutive victories to make the postseason for the first time since 1963.
28. Bears draft Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers
The Bears’ victory over the 49ers in 1964 drops them behind the Niners for the second overall pick in the 1965 draft (actually held Nov. 28, 1964), but it doesn’t matter. The Bears take Illinois linebacker Dick Butkus with the third overall pick (acquired a year earlier from the Steelers for second- and fourth-round picks in the 1964 draft) and Kansas running back Gale Sayers with the fourth overall pick. And the rest is history.
29. Red Grange draws 75,000 to Los Angeles Coliseum
In the highlight game of the 1925-26 barnstorming tour, the Bears play the Los Angeles Tigers on Jan. 16, 1926, at the Los Angeles Coliseum before the largest crowd to watch a professional football game in America. Grange scores two touchdowns but is outgained by former Washington Huskies star George ‘‘Wildcat’’ Wilson 118-33. Though Grange — challenged physically by the grind of 16 games in 67 days — is rarely at his best, the tour helps establish the NFL as a legitimate force in American sports.
30. Bears beat Packers to force championship playoff, 1932
The Packers (10-2) were three-time defending NFL champions. On a cold, snowy day at Wrigley Field in the season finale on Dec. 11, 1932, the Bears (6-1-6, ties did not count in the standings) win 9-0, with Bronko Nagurski’s 56-yard touchdown the clincher. The victory sends the Bears to a playoff with Portsmouth for the NFL title.
31. Bears lose NFC Championship Game, 2011
After missing a chance to keep the Packers out of the playoffs in Week 17, the Bears lose to the Packers 21-14 in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 23, 2011, at Soldier Field. Jay Cutler leaves with an injury early in the third quarter, and Caleb Hanie is intercepted at the Packers’ 12 in the final minute.
32. Bears falter with Flutie
After going 14-2 in the 1986 regular season and setting an NFL record for fewest points allowed, the Bears — with Doug Flutie at quarterback for an injured Jim McMahon — lose to the Redskins 27-13 in their playoff opener on Jan. 3, 1987, at Soldier Field.
33. Bears sign Sid Luckman
After the Bears select Columbia quarterback Sid Luckman with the No. 2 pick of the 1939 NFL Draft, Luckman tells them, ‘‘I have no intention of playing professional football,’’ and says he plans to enter the family trucking business. But George Halas lures Luckman with ‘‘one of the most attractive contracts we have ever offered a freshman player,’’ and he signs a two-year deal on July 24, 1939.
34. Gale Sayers retires at 29
Sayers, a shadow of his magnificent self after four knee surgeries — three in the previous two seasons — announces his retirement on Sept. 10, 1972, one day after a difficult-to-watch performance in the preseason finale against the Cardinals in which he fumbled on two of three carries.
35. Bears hire Jim Finks as GM
After five consecutive losing seasons since George Halas retired as coach
(20-49-1), the Halases hire former Vikings general manager Jim Finks as their GM, giving him total control of football operations, on Sept. 12, 1974. Finks replaces George Halas Jr., making it the first time since the inception of the franchise that a Halas wasn’t running the show.
36. Unbeaten ’85 Bears fall flat in Miami
The scourge of the NFL at 12-0, coming off victories of 24-3, 44-0 and 36-0, the Bears and their vaunted defense hit the wall at full speed in a 34-28 loss to Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins on ‘‘Monday Night Football’’ on Dec. 2, 1985, at the Orange Bowl.
37. Legend of ‘The Fridge’ is born
William ‘‘The Refrigerator’’ Perry, the Bears’ 350-pound defensive tackle, obliterates Packers linebacker George Cumby to clear a path for a touchdown by Walter Payton and later scores on a one-yard run to break a 7-7 tie in the Bears’ 23-7 victory against the Packers on ‘‘Monday Night Football’’ on Oct. 21, 1985, at Soldier Field.
38. Bears become America’s Team
The ’85 Bears have everybody’s attention at 10-0, but a resounding 44-0 victory against the 7-3 Cowboys on Nov. 17, 1985, at Texas Stadium accelerates them on the path to greatness. Otis Wilson knocks Danny White out of the game twice, Richard Dent and Mike Richardson score defensive touchdowns and the Bears hand the Cowboys their worst defeat ever.
39. Bears lose NFL championship game, 1942
The Bears were 11-0 and had outscored their last six opponents 199-14 before the vaunted T formation was stymied in a 14-6 loss to the Washington Redskins on
Dec. 13, 1942, at Griffith Stadium — the site of the 73-0 rout that made history. It temporarily ends one of the most glorious three-year runs in NFL history. After a loss to the Redskins in 1940, the Bears went 26-1, outscoring opponents 993-302 and winning two NFL titles.
40. ‘I love Brian Piccolo’
Gale Sayers honors dying teammate Brian Piccolo in accepting the George Halas Award as the NFL’s Most Courageous Player from the New York chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association on May 26, 1970. ‘‘You flatter me by giving me this award, but I tell you here and now that I accept it for Brian Piccolo,’’ Sayers says to a suddenly hushed room. ‘‘Brian Piccolo is the man of courage who should receive the George S. Halas Award. It is mine tonight; it is Brian Piccolo’s tomorrow. I love Brian Piccolo, and I’d like all of you to love him, too.’’
41. The Buddy Ryan letter
Anticipating the firing of coach Neill Armstrong with the Bears 4-10 in December 1981, defensive lineman Alan Page and safety Gary Fencik write a letter to George Halas — signed by 18 teammates — imploring him to retain defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan and his staff. ‘‘We feel that we are a good defensive team and, with their help, we can be a great defensive team in the near future,’’ the letter says. Halas re-signs Ryan to a three-year contract before firing Armstrong and hiring Mike Ditka. And the rest is history.
42. Chicago Staleys win 1921 APFA title
Guy Chamberlin returns an interception 90 yards for a touchdown and ‘‘Dutch’’ Sternaman kicks a tiebreaking 20-yard field goal in the third quarter as the Staleys avenge their only defeat with a 10-7 victory on Dec. 4, 1921, for their first league title.
43a. Bears end postseason ‘drought’
Rick Casares sets franchise records for rushing yards in a game (190) and season (1,126) as the Bears (9-2-1) beat the Lions 38-21 on Dec. 16, 1956, at Wrigley Field to clinch the Western Division title and a berth in the NFL championship game against the Giants — the Bears’ first postseason appearance in six years.
43b. Bears crushed in NFL championship game, 1956
The Bears fall behind 13-0 in the first quarter and are never in contention in a 47-7 loss to the Giants in the title game on Dec. 30, 1956, at Yankee Stadium. They had tied the Giants 17-17 five weeks earlier.
44. Jim McMahon in relief
Jim McMahon comes off the bench in relief of Steve Fuller and throws three touchdown passes in a 6:40 span of the third quarter to spark a 33-24 victory over the Vikings on ‘‘Thursday Night Football’’ on Sept. 19, 1985, at the Metrodome.
45. Bears lose coin flip for Terry Bradshaw
After the Bears and Steelers tie for the worst record in the NFL (1-13, with the Bears’ lone victory coming against the Steelers), a coin flip in New Orleans on Jan. 9, 1970, determines who’ll get the No. 1 pick. Bears vice president Ed McCaskey calls heads. It comes up tails. The Steelers draft Bradshaw. The Bears trade the No. 2 pick to the Packers for Elijah Pitts, Lee Roy Caffey and Bob Hyland. And the rest is history.
46a. George ‘Mugs’ Halas dies at 54
The Bears are stunned by the sudden death of team president George Halas Jr., the son of owner George Halas, who dies of a heart attack on Dec. 16, 1979 — hours before the Bears faced a crucial season finale against the St. Louis Cardinals with a chance to make the playoffs.
46b. Bears make 1979 playoffs
On the day ‘‘Mugs’’ Halas dies, the Bears (10-6) beat the Cardinals 42-6 at Soldier Field, making up a 33-point deficit in point differential to pass the Redskins (10-6) for a playoff berth. Walter Payton rushes for 157 yards and three touchdowns. The Cowboys make it possible, scoring two touchdowns in the final five minutes to beat the Redskins in Dallas.
47a. Mike Brown’s pick-six, Part 1
Safety Mike Brown returns an interception 33 yards for a game-ending touchdown after Shane Matthews threw two touchdowns passes to David Terrell in the final 4:08 in a 37-31 victory over the 49ers on Oct. 28, 2001, at Soldier Field.
47b. Mike Brown’s pick-six, Part 2
The next week, Brown returns an interception 16 yards for a game-ending touchdown after Shane Matthews threw two touchdown passes in the final 28 seconds — including a Hail Mary to James Allen at the regulation buzzer — in a 27-21 victory over the Browns on Nov. 4, 2001. The back-to-back stunners spark the Bears’ worst-to-first 13-3 season for the NFC North title in 2001.
48. One final lift from Walter Payton
Six days after Walter Payton’s death, defensive tackle Bryan Robinson blocks Ryan Longwell’s 28-yard field-goal attempt to clinch a 14-13 victory against the Packers on Nov. 7, 1999, at Lambeau Field.
49. Devin Hester’s 108-yard return of a missed field goal
With the Bears leading the Giants 24-20 early in the fourth quarter on Nov. 12, 2006, at Giants Stadium, Hester catches Jay Feely’s missed 52-yard field goal in the end zone, acts like he’s going to down it and suddenly runs it out for a record-tying 108-yard return. It’s the third kick-return touchdown of his rookie season as the Bears win 38-20.
50. Walter Payton wins MVP award
After rushing for 1,852 yards in 1977 — third-most in NFL history behind O.J. Simpson (2,003) and Jim Brown (1,863) — and setting NFL records with 275 yards in a game and 339 carries in a season, Payton wins the Associated Press’ NFL Most Valuable Player Award on Jan. 5, 1978. Credit is shared with his offensive line: tackles Dennis Lick and Ted Albrecht, center Dan Peiffer and guards Noah Jackson and Revie Sorey.
51. Bears win NFC Championship Game, 2007
Thomas Jones rushes for 123 yards and two touchdowns in a 39-14 victory over the Saints in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 21, 2007, at Soldier Field. The victory sends the Bears to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1985 season.
52. Packers upset Bears before record crowd at Wrigley Field, 1941
In arguably the most anticipated regular-season game in Bears history, the 14-point underdog Packers (7-1) take a 16-0 lead and hold on for a 16-14 victory against the defending champion Bears (5-1) on Nov. 2, 1941, before 46,484 at Wrigley Field. It was the largest crowd to see a football game in Chicago. Two people died of heart attacks at the game, including George Halas’ sister-in-law, Mayme Halas.
53. Bears acquire Jay Cutler
Bears GM Jerry Angelo acquires 26-year-old Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler in a trade with the Broncos for two first-round picks, a third-round pick and QB Kyle Orton on April 2, 2009.
54. The Audible
With a 20-0 lead in the fourth quarter against the Vikings at the Metrodome on Oct. 4, 1992, quarterback Jim Harbaugh calls an audible that turns into a 35-yard pick-six that ignites a 21-20 Vikings comeback victory. An incensed Mike Ditka berates Harbaugh on the sideline and rips him after the game: “If the situation arises again, there will be changes made, and they will be permanent. I’m not going to put 47 guys’ careers in the hands of somebody who thinks he knows more than I know.”
55. Mike Ditka fired
After a 5-11 season marked by eight losses in the last nine games that seemed to sap Mike Ditka’s enthusiasm, the remarkable, unforgettable Ditka era comes to an inglorious end when he is fired by Michael McCaskey on Jan. 5, 1993, after 11 seasons as coach. Ditka’s record: 112-68, with seven playoff appearances, a 6-6 postseason record and, of course, the Lombardi Trophy for winning Super Bowl XX.
56. Bears escape vs. Seahawks
Robbie Gould kicks a 49-yard field goal in overtime to give the Bears a 27-24 victory against the Seahawks in a divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on Jan. 14, 2007. Gould also kicked a 41-yarder to tie the game with 4:24 to play in regulation.
57. Charles Martin cheap-shots Jim McMahon
Quarterback Jim McMahon suffers a season-ending torn rotator cuff when he is viciously body-slammed by Packers defensive end Charles Martin — who was suspended for two games — in the Bears’ 12-10 victory at Soldier Field on Nov. 23, 1986.
58. Bears draft Walter Payton
Amid speculation that the Bears favored Texas A&I running back Don Hardeman, new general manager Jim Finks instead takes Jackson State running back Walter Payton with the fourth overall pick of the draft on Jan. 28, 1975. The Bears liked Payton so much, coach Jack Pardee said they would’ve taken him No. 1 overall.
59. The Double-doink
Cody Parkey misses a 43-yard field goal in the final seconds — hitting the left upright and the crossbar — as the Bears lose to the Eagles 15-14 in a wild-card playoff game at Soldier Field on Jan. 6, 2019.
60. Mike Ditka hired as coach
George Halas — having already fired Neill Armstrong and re-signed defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan without consulting general manager Jim Finks — further undercuts Finks’ authority by personally hiring former Bears tight end Michael Keller Ditka — the special-teams coach with the Cowboys — as coach and giving him authority over player personnel on Jan. 19, 1982.
61. Bears beat Packers, win NFC North
Mitch Trubisky throws two touchdown passes without an interception and safety Eddie Jackson intercepts Aaron Rodgers in the end zone — and suffers an injury on the return — as the Bears beat the Packers 27-17 at Soldier Field on Dec. 16, 2018, to clinch the NFC North title and their first playoff berth since 2010.
62. ‘Papa Bear’ dies
The Bears’ founder and owner and a founding father of the NFL, George Stanley Halas dies at 88 after an eight-month illness on Oct. 31, 1983. His daughter, Virginia McCaskey, 60, becomes principal owner of the Bears.
63a. Bears acquire Khalil Mack
In a stunning trade a week before the start of the regular season, the Bears acquire 27-year-old Pro Bowl linebacker Khalil Mack from the Raiders for two first-round draft picks, a third-round pick and a sixth-round pick on Sept. 1, 2018, and sign him to a six-year, $141 million extension that makes him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. The Bears also received a second-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick from the Raiders.
63b. Khalil Mack’s grand entrance
After missing all of training camp and the entire preseason, Mack dominates in the season opener against the Packers — a sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery and pick-six, all in the first half. But the Bears falter in the second half, and Aaron Rodgers returns from an injury to lead the Packers to an uncanny 24-23 victory on Sept. 9, 2018, at Lambeau Field.
64. Aaron Rodgers thwarts Bears — again
With the NFC North title and a playoff berth on the line in Week 17 of Marc Trestman’s first season as coach, the Bears (8-8) lose to the Packers 33-28 at Soldier Field on Dec. 29, 2013, when Rodgers throws a 38-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb with 38 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Earlier, the Packers scored a touchdown when Julius Peppers sacked Rodgers, but the Bears failed to retrieve the ball, and Jarrett Boykin picked it up and ran for a touchdown.
65. George Halas takes charge, 1921
A financial downturn forces A.E. Staley to give George Halas full operating control of the Staleys on Feb. 16, 1921, and allows him to move the team to Chicago in the newly named National Football League — where they will play at Cubs Park. Staley advances Halas $5,000 with the understanding he will keep the name “Staleys” for one year.
66. Chuck Hughes’ death stuns NFL
Lions reserve wide receiver Chuck Hughes, 28, collapses after running a pass pattern with 1:02 to play against the Bears and dies of cardiac arrest at Tiger Stadium on Oct. 24, 1971. An autopsy reveals Hughes suffered from an undetected heart disease, arteriosclerosis — hardening of the arteries — that had “been coming on with no visible signs for some time.”
67. Unbeaten Bears survive Packers at Lambeau, 1985
The feud between Ditka’s Bears (9-0) and Forrest Gregg’s Packers (3-6) reaches a peak on Nov. 3, 1985, at Lambeau Field as the Bears overcome cheap shots by Mark Lee (ejected after driving Walter Payton out of bounds and over the Bears’ bench) and Ken Stills (late hits on Jim McMahon and Matt Suhey) to win 16-10 behind Payton’s 192 yards on 28 carries, including a 27-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
68. The Dave McGinnis debacle
After firing Dave Wannstedt following a 4-12 season in 1998, the Bears botch the hiring of Dave McGinnis, who balks at contract terms after the Bears had called a news conference to announce his hiring on Jan. 22, 1999. A day later, the Bears hire Jaguars defensive coordinator Dick Jauron as coach.
69. Brian Urlacher, Superstar
Second-year linebacker Brian Urlacher returns a fumble 90 yards for a touchdown — to go with an interception, a sack and a forced fumble — in a 31-3 rout of Michael Vick and the Falcons at the Georgia Dome on Oct. 7, 2001.
70. Red Grange’s New York debut
Red Grange returns an interception 35 yards for a touchdown to lead the Bears to a 19-7 victory over the Giants before 65,000 fans at the Polo Grounds on Dec. 6, 1925. The Giants had drawn 18,000 to their previous home game a week earlier.
71. Mike Ditka tramples Steelers
Tight end Mike Ditka breaks six tackles on a bruising 63-yard run against the Steelers that leads to a field goal with 4:30 left in the fourth quarter, which earns the Bears (9-1-1) a 17-17 tie with the -Steelers on Nov. 24, 1963 — two days after -President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
72. Bears lose NFC Championship Game, 1989
‘‘Bear Weather” is exposed as a myth once and for all when the 49ers come to Soldier Field in wintry conditions — 17-degree temperature, 29 mph winds and a minus-26 wind-chill factor — and beat the Bears 28-3 on Jan. 8, 1989, to advance to Super Bowl XXIII.
73. Shortest OT in NFL history
After Vince Evans scores on a four-yard run on the last play of regulation to tie the game, Dave Williams returns the overtime kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown — the shortest overtime in NFL history — to give the Bears a 23-17 victory over the Lions on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27, 1980, at the Silverdome.
74. The Harlon Hill Game
Rookie wide receiver Harlon Hill has seven receptions for a franchise-record 214 yards and scores four touchdowns — three from George Blanda and a 66-yarder from Ed Brown with 25 seconds left — to lead the Bears to a 31-27 victory against the 49ers at old Kezar Stadium on Oct. 31, 1954.
75. George Halas retires
Saying his arthritic hip no longer will allow him to follow play on the sidelines as was his custom, the 73-year-old Halas pulls a stunner by announcing his retirement on May 27, 1968 — after a 7-6-1 season in 1967. In his 40 seasons as coach, the Bears were 324-151-31, with six championships and 11 championship-game appearances. Assistant coach Jim Dooley, 38, is named his successor the next day.
76. ‘Super Bowl Shuffle’ hits Billboard charts
A rap video brashly taped by 24 members of the Bears on Nov. 23, 1985 — when the Bears were 11-0 and Super Bowl favorites — breaks into the Billboard Top 100 at No. 92 the week of Jan. 11, 1986. With Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, William Perry, Otis Wilson and Willie Gault among the 10 singers of the 24 teammates to participate, it becomes a nationally recognized phenomenon and peaks at No. 41 the weeks of Feb. 8-15, 1986 — after the Bears had won Super Bowl XX.
77. Bears win ‘Fog Bowl’
In one of the most bizarre games in team history, the Bears beat the Eagles 20-12 in a divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on Dec. 31, 1988, that was played in a dense fog that rolled in off the lake late in the first half. The Bears were leading 17-6 when the fog made visibility difficult, but officials allowed the game to continue because it was not affecting play on the field.
78. Ditka’s Bears upset Redskins
After making the playoffs in Mike Ditka’s second full season in 1984, the Bears’ defense shows a glimpse of its future greatness, throttling Joe Theismann behind Richard Dent, Dan Hampton and hard-hitting safety Todd Bell in a 23-19 victory over the two-time defending NFC champion Redskins on Dec. 30, 1984, at RFK Stadium.
79. The Replay Game
The Bears lose to the Packers 14-13 at Lambeau Field on Nov. 5, 1989, when a penalty on Packers quarterback Don Maj-kowski for an illegal forward pass on a fourth-down touchdown pass to Sterling Sharpe in the final minute is overturned on instant replay — clearly with no conclusive evidence — giving the Packers the touchdown and the victory.
80. Nathan Vasher’s 108-yard field-goal return
In a 47 mph wind at Soldier Field that had already produced one freaky play when Robbie Gould’s 39-yard field goal took a cartoonish right turn before reaching the uprights, Nathan Vasher tops it by returning Joe Nedney’s missed 52-yard field goal 108 yards — behind a caravan led by Brian Urlacher — for a touchdown on the last play of the first half to spark the Bears (6-3) to a 17-9 victory on Nov. 13, 2005. It’s the longest touchdown play in NFL history.
81. Steve Smith torches Bears
Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith has 12 receptions for 218 yards and two touchdowns in a 13-3 victory over the Bears in a divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on Jan. 15, 2006. The Bears had beaten the Panthers 13-3 in the regular season on Nov. 20 at Soldier Field.
82. Bears lose to Eagles in playoffs
Walter Payton’s 84-yard run is nullified by a phantom procedure penalty on Brian Baschnagel as the Bears lose to the Eagles 17-10 in a wild-card playoff game at Veterans Stadium on Dec. 23, 1979.
83. Bears clinch NFC North title for Lovie
The Bears intercept Brett Favre four times — including Lance Briggs’ 10-yard return for a touchdown — in a 24-17 victory over the Packers at Lambeau Field on Christmas Day, 2005, to clinch the NFC North title in Lovie Smith’s second season.
84. ‘Devin Hester, you are ridiculous’
Rookie Devin Hester returns kickoffs 94 and 96 yards for touchdowns — giving him six return touchdowns in his rookie season — in a 42-27 victory over the Rams on ‘‘Monday Night Football’’ at the Edward Jones Dome on Nov. 11, 2006. And a catchphrase is born: The second touchdown elicits a signature call from Bears play-by-play man Jeff Joniak — “Devin Hester, you are ridiculous.”
85. Devin Hester breaks record
Devin Hester breaks the NFL record with his 14th career kick-return touchdown (not including the field-goal return TD or Super Bowl TD) — a 94-yard punt return in a 40-14 rout of the Vikings on ‘‘Monday Night Football’’ on Dec. 20, 2010, at TCF Bank Stadium that clinches the NFC North title.
86a. Aaron Rodgers torments Bears
Aaron Rodgers throws six touchdown passes in the first half as the Bears fall behind the Packers 42-0 en route to a 55-14 post-bye-week loss at Lambeau Field on Nov. 9, 2014, that followed a 51-23 loss to the Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Oct. 26.
86b. The end for Emery/Trestman
The back-to-back debacles seal the fate of coach Marc Trestman and GM Phil Emery, who are fired on Dec. 29, 2014, the day after the Bears conclude a 5-11 season.
87. Bears lose 1937 NFL championship game
Rookie sensation Sammy Baugh throws for 335 yards — a rookie playoff record that would stand for 75 years — and three touchdowns to lead the Washington Redskins (9-3) to a 28-21 victory against the Bears (9-2-1) before 15,878 fans at frigid Wrigley Field on Dec. 12, 1937.
88. Avellini-to-Latta saves the day
Bob Avellini throws a 37-yard touchdown pass to tight end Greg Latta with three seconds left to give the Bears a 28-27 victory against the Chiefs at Soldier Field on Nov. 13, 1977. Walter Payton rushes for 192 yards and three touchdowns.
89. Wanny’s Bears upset Vikes in playoffs
Under second-year coach Dave Wann-stedt, the Bears upset the Vikings 35-18 in a wild-card playoff game on Jan. 1, 1995, at the Metrodome. The Bears then lose to the 49ers 44-15 in the divisional round on
Jan. 7. It’s still the last road playoff game the Bears have won.
90. Johnny Lujack’s record-breaking day
With the Bears needing a victory for a chance at the division title, Johnny Lujack throws for an NFL-record 468 yards — breaking Sammy Baugh’s mark of 446 — and six touchdowns in a 52-21 victory against the Cardinals before 50,101 at Wrigley Field on Dec. 11, 1949. The 9-3 Bears’ postseason hopes end when the Rams (8-2-2) beat the Redskins to win the Western title.
91. Walter Payton’s run vs. Chiefs
Walter Payton breaks five tackles and avoids three others on a highlight-reel 18-yard run and finishes with 192 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-27 victory against the Chiefs at Soldier Field on Nov. 13, 1977.
92. Young Bussey killed in World War II
Young Bussey was the backup quarterback to Sid Luckman in 1941 who threw for a touchdown in the Bears’ 35-24 victory over an NFL All-Star team in a 1942 Navy benefit game. He joined the armed forces in 1942, was reported missing in January 1945 and declared dead in March 1946. He was honored before the kickoff of the Bears-Packers game in 1946.
93. Trubisky’s six-touchdown day
Quarterback Mitch Trubisky throws six touchdown passes — five in the first half — to lead the Bears to a 48-10 rout of the Buccaneers on Sept. 30, 2018, at Soldier Field.
94. Fred Washington dies
Rookie defensive lineman Fred Washington is killed in a one-car accident in Lake Forest in the early morning of Dec. 21, 1990. Washington, 23, was a second-round draft pick from TCU. A female companion, Petra Stoll, also died in the accident, which occurred two miles from Washington’s residence.
95. Sam Hurd arrested
In one of the most bizarre off-the-field episodes in Bears history, affable wide receiver Sam Hurd is arrested on Dec. 13, 2011, and charged with conspiring to possess and distribute cocaine and marijuana after accepting a kilogram of cocaine from an undercover officer at a Morton’s Steakhouse — with the apparent intent of becoming a drug kingpin. Hurd was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2013.
96. Hugh Douglas slams Jim Miller
After quarterback Jim Miller throws an interception with the Bears trailing the Eagles 6-0 in the third quarter of a divisional playoff game on Jan. 19, 2002, at Soldier Field, Eagles defensive end Hugh Douglas unnecessarily throws Miller to the turf on the return. Miller suffers a separated shoulder and the Bears lose 33-19. No flag was thrown on the play, but the NFL fined Douglas $35,000.
97. Bears fire GM Jerry Angelo
The Bears suddenly and surprisingly fire general manager Jerry Angelo on Jan. 3, 2012, after they finished an 8-8 season in 2011 — the fifth time in six seasons since Super XLI that the Bears did not make the playoffs. In 11 seasons, the Bears won four NFC North titles and reached the Super Bowl in 2006. Angelo struggled in the first round but had success in later rounds, including Pro Bowl players Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs, Devin Hester, Matt Forte, Henry Melton and Johnny Knox.
98. George Halas’ 98-yard fumble return
George Halas outraces the great Jim Thorpe to the end zone for a 98-yard fumble-return touchdown in a 20-0 victory over Thorpe’s Oorang Indians on Nov. 4, 1923, at Cubs Park. Thorpe tripped up Halas near the goal line, but not in time to prevent the touchdown.
99. Doctors save Zach Miller’s leg
Tight end Zach Miller suffers a gruesome leg injury on an apparent touchdown catch, needing emergency vascular surgery to save his leg in a 20-12 loss to the Saints on Oct. 29, 2017, at the Superdome.
Incredibly, the play was ruled no catch.
100. Bobby Douglass-to-Dick Butkus for the win
The Bears beat the Redskins 16-15 and improve to 6-3 on Nov. 14, 1971, when Cyril Pinder scores on a 40-yard touchdown run and Bobby Douglass converts the PAT by scrambling after a high snap and passing to Dick Butkus, who makes an over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone early in the fourth quarter. The Bears did not win again that season and finished 6-8.