The Chicago Bears, one of the two remaining charter franchises of the National Football League, have put together an impressive century – nine NFL championships and a league-most 28 players inducted into the NFL’s Hall of Fame. Within that history have been signature moments spanning every era.
NBC Sports Chicago has identified the 100 greatest Bears moments, the “Hallowed Hundred” that are etched in memories throughout the history of the organization that started it all.
Some of those moments have been individual games with defining overall significance. Some have been specific plays within those games. And some of those moments have occurred away from any one game.
Pivotal games rate edges over individual performances. Fair or not, games since Thanksgiving Day 1934, the date of the first Bears game broadcast nationally, on NBC radio, and since the NFL crashed into national consciousness in 1958 with “The Greatest Game Ever Played” get a touch more weight simply because the Bears have been seen and heard more with the growth of football on the air. Put simply, games that are seen or heard are going to be arguably more memorable than ones only read about in the newspapers of the time.
These are moments #90-81… check back in a week for our next installment on NBCSportsChicago.com.
90. Kyle Fuller’s 2 INT game vs 49ers
The Bears’ 1st-round pick in 2014 (14th overall) was spent on Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller, and he wasted no time making an impact. In Week 2 of 2014, the Bears trailed the 49ers 20-7 heading into the 4th quarter on Sunday Night Football. It was then that Fuller made his mark, intercepting Colin Kaepernick twice in the final period to help key an unexpected comeback. Both takeaways led to Jay Cutler TD passes, and the Bears shocked San Fran with a 28-20 victory. Fuller led all NFL rookies with 4 interceptions that season, and after some ups and downs over the following few seasons, he has emerged as a cornerstone of the current dominant defensive unit.
89. Mike Ditka on roller skates
Never one to shy away from theatricality, Mike Ditka took things to a whole other level in December 1987. Ahead of a game against the Vikings at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Da Coach voiced his displeasure for the indoor facility, calling it a “Rollerdome” early in the week. A couple days later, Ditka doubled down by stating the Minnesota cheerleaders should wear roller skates, prompting then-Vikings GM Mike Lynn to send Ditka a pair of his own. Do you think Ditka backed down? Of course not. Iron Mike donned the skates and rolled around Halas Hall, much to the delight of the gathered media. Ditka and the Bears ended up getting the last laugh, beating the Vikings 30-24.
88. Matt Forte’s first career TD vs Colts
When the Bears decided to move on from the late Cedric Benson after a disappointing 2007 campaign, little did they know that their next great franchise back would be waiting for them in the 2nd round of the following year’s draft. Matt Forte was labeled as a reach pick by some after the Bears took him in the 2nd round (44th overall) out of Tulane University, but #22 hit the ground running. His debut on September 7, 2008, was initially overshadowed by the first regular season game at Lucas Oil Stadium, but Forte stole the spotlight with a 50-yard touchdown run in his first quarter of NFL action. The Bears never looked back and stunned Peyton Manning’s Colts, 29-13, and one of the most productive careers in Bears history was off and running.
87. Lance Briggs lays out Megatron
In the early part of this decade, Lions/Bears tilts were rarely lacking for drama, and the meeting on November 13, 2011 was no exception. In a game marred by personal fouls galore and an ejection for DJ Moore, the biggest message was undoubtedly delivered by Lance Briggs. On the first play of the 4th quarter, and with the Bears already comfortably ahead, Briggs absolutely demolished Calvin “Megatron” Johnson on a quick slant. The outside LB was flagged on the play, which his fellow linebacker Brian Urlacher couldn’t believe. “What do you want us to do?” Urlacher said at the time. “That should be teaching tape for the NFL on how to hit a guy because that was perfect in my mind.” Briggs’ crushing blow was an exclamation point on a big divisional win, and one of the standout plays in Briggs’ illustrious career.
86. Marty Booker’s 1-handed catch vs Lions
Marty Booker enjoyed a couple 1,000-yard receiving seasons with the Bears in the early 2000s, but perhaps his most memorable moment came during his 2nd stint with the team in 2008. In an otherwise-unremarkable 34-7 win over the Lions in Detroit, Booker made one of the finest catches in NFL history. Booker was tracking a Kyle Orton pass down the sideline while a Detroit defensive back was attempting to push him out of bounds. Marty reached around the defender and palmed the ball with his left hand, somehow securing the catch while sliding toward the boundary. Initially, the pass was ruled incomplete, but the call was overturned after a Lovie Smith challenge, and Booker’s catch entered the history books.
85. Lance Briggs Christmas pick-6 of Brett Favre
It was a play that punctuated the 2005 NFC North title, and cemented the first season sweep of the Packers since 1991. Late in the 3rd quarter on Christmas Night 2005, Brett Favre threw off his back foot in the shadow of his own end zone, and Lance Briggs jumped the route for an easy interception and touchdown, right in front of a cameraman dressed as Santa Claus. It was the biggest of four interceptions Favre threw in the game, and the Bears hung on for a 24-17 win to clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs.
84. Payton throws TD pass vs Redskins 1984
Walter Payton’s greatness stems not only from his legendary exploits as a running back, but also from the fact that he could do nearly everything on the football field at an elite level. For instance, in his 13-year career, he *threw* for 8 touchdowns in the regular season - but his most memorable passing touchdown came in the 1984 playoffs against Washington. In the 2nd quarter of the divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on December 20, 1984, “Sweetness” took a pitch from Steve Fuller, faked a handoff, and then found a wide-open Pat Dunsmore for an easy score. The Bears hung on for a 23-19 win, and even though they got shut out by the 49ers in the following week’s conference title game, the win over the Redskins -- and Payton’s passing TD -- proved to be harbingers of the dominance to come the following season.
83. Bears sign Julius Peppers
After a disappointing 2009 season ended with a 7-9 record, the Bears went big in free agency and reeled prized defensive end Julius Peppers with a 6-year $91.5M contract. Peppers was a force in Chicago, racking up 37.5 sacks in 64 games with the team, and took Lovie Smith’s group to another level in his first season with the team. His 2010 season, which ended in the NFC Championship game in January 2011, included a dominant performance in his Carolina homecoming, where made a spectacular interception off his own pass deflection.
82. Jay Cutler to Greg Olsen playoff TD vs Seahawks
After the disappointment of losing Super Bowl XLI, Bears fans were starved for another playoff berth, and they wouldn’t get one until after the 2010 season. The NFC North champion Bears hosted the Seattle Seahawks on January 16, 2011, and Jay Cutler steered Chicago to his only career playoff win. #6 threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more, becoming only the second QB in league history to have such a game in the postseason. His signature moment came only 2:33 into the game, when he hit tight end Greg Olsen in stride through a falling snow for a 58-yard touchdown to open the scoring. That play sent the Bears on their way to an easy 35-24 victory, and put them on a collision course with the Packers in the NFC Championship game.
81. The Calvin Johnson “no catch”
Earlier in that same 2010 season, the Bears escaped victorious thanks to a dubious overturned catch that still is referenced today. Late in the season opener against Detroit, QB Shaun Hill appeared to connect with Johnson for what could have been the game-winning touchdown. Johnson secured the catch, and had both feet down in the end zone, but let the ball go as he got up to celebrate the supposed score. After review, referee Gene Steratore overruled the call of touchdown, stating Johnson did not maintain possession of the ball through the “entire process of the catch.” The Lions were outraged, the Bears celebrated an improbable victory, and the “Calvin Johnson Rule” was born.