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.
70. Trubisky leads go-ahead TD drive in playoffs vs Eagles
The Bears’ first playoff game in 8 years hadn’t produced a touchdown for the home team through three quarters, but that all changed on their first possession of the 4th quarter. Down 10-9 to Philadelphia and starting at his own 20, Mitch Trubisky engineered a go-ahead touchdown drive almost exclusively through the air. With completions of 19, 34, and 22 yards, the final completion a scoring strike to Allen Robinson II, the young UNC product showed a flair for the dramatic in his first taste of playoff action. Unfortunately, we all know how this game turned out, but Trubisky’s excellent 4th quarter (including his desperation final drive that got the Bears within range for the infamous Parkey miss) showed flashes of the potential that prompted Ryan Pace to trade up for him in the first place.
69. Bears hire Ryan Pace
Speaking of Pace, the franchise’s recent turnaround was engineered by the 42-year-old GM after he took the reins from the spiraling Phil Emery regime in January 2015. Only 5 players (McManis, Long, Fuller, Leno, & O’Donnell) remain from the Emery era, as Pace has aggressively remade the roster in his 4+ years at the helm of the franchise. The story of Pace’s tenure has yet to be fully written, but he’s authored some of the franchise’s signature moments this decade: trading up for Mitchell Trubisky, hiring future Coach of the Year Matt Nagy, and trading for Khalil Mack. Whether the Bears capture a 2nd Super Bowl title is yet to be seen, but Pace has put them in position to succeed as the 2019 season continues to unfold.
68. Brian Urlacher Fake FG pass TD
The 2001 season was magical for many different reasons, some of which we will encounter later on in this countdown. But one late-season moment stands as a career highlight for one particular Pro Football Hall of Famer. On December 23, 2001, the Bears trailed the Redskins 13-10 with 10 minutes left in the game and were poised to tie the game with a short field goal. However, holder Brad Maynard immediately stood up and looked to pass once he received the snap, and found none other than linebacker Brian Urlacher open in the flat. #54 caught it in stride and found the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown, one of only five scores in his career and the only offensive TD. It was also the lone catch of his professional career, but it was a big one - the Bears went on to win 20-15, moving to 11-3 on the season en route to a first-round playoff bye.
67. Briggs 74-yd INT return TD vs Romo
Lovie Smith’s final season as Bears head coach opened with a bang, as the Bears roared to a 3-1 start. The third win came on a national stage, with the Bears whipping the Cowboys 34-18 on Monday Night Football in Dallas. With the Bears up 10 in the 3rd quarter, Tony Romo tried to step up in the pocket, but had the ball squirt out of his grasp; Lance Briggs found himself in the right place at the right time, grabbing the loose ball out of the air and rumbling 74 yards for the pick-six. It was the second interception returned for a TD in the game, following Peanut Tillman earlier in the game. Briggs’ pick-6 was a prime-time statement, and the Bears rode the momentum from the win to a 7-1 record midway through the season.
66. Eddie Jackson’s back-to-back pick 6s 2018
The 2018 Bears defense was a throwback to the Lovie Smith era, where ball-hawking and turnovers were part of the unit’s DNA. No player personified that mindset more than safety Eddie Jackson. Two plays in particular merit inclusion on this list and those would be his pick-6’s in back-to-back games in November 2018. On the 18th, in a 25-20 win over Kirk Cousins and the Vikings, Jackson returned an interception on Sunday Night Football to help legitimize the Bears as a powerful presence in the conference once again. Four days later, with the game tied on the road on Thanksgiving Day, Jackson victimized Matthew Stafford to lift the Bears to a 23-16 win, the Bears’ 5th in a row at the time. Jackson’s heroics in that 5-day span personified the relentless attacking nature of one of the franchise’s best-ever defensive units and helped legitimize him as one of the premier playmaking safeties in the NFL.
65. “Peanut punch” game vs Titans Nov 4, 2012
Speaking of ball-hawking and forcing turnovers, perhaps no player represents that style of play better than Charles “Peanut” Tillman. In fact, his patented move -- the “Peanut Punch” -- became known league-wide, as the cornerback routinely caught receivers napping and forced fumbles, racking up an absurd 44 forced fumbles over his 13-year career. No single season was more fruitful than 2012, when he forced 10 fumbles, and no game was more impressive than his effort on November 4, 2012, in Tennessee. Tillman forced a fumble that the Bears recovered on the Titans’ first play of the game, and he was just getting started. Peanut punched out three more fumbles as the game went on, picking the pocket of 4 different players in the process. The Bears forced 5 turnovers in total, romping to a 51-20 win in Nashville as Tillman authored one of his career’s finest performances.
64. Keith Traylor “Rumblin, Stumblin, Bumblin” INT return 2001
Another entry from the 2001 Bears, this one from a most unlikely source. On January 6, 2002, the Bears were in the midst of drubbing the Jacksonville Jaguars when one of the most surprising interception returns of all time occurred. Mark Brunell’s attempted screen pass was tipped and corralled by defensive tackle Keith Traylor, and then the fun began. Traylor had his eye on the end zone, and the 330-pound lineman turned on the jets. Traylor rumbled 67 yards down the sideline, with Soldier Field shaking in his wake. 2 plays later, Jim Miller hit David Terrell for a touchdown, and the rout was on. The Bears won 33-13, finishing the last regular season at old Soldier Field with a record of 13-3 before falling to the Eagles in the playoffs 2 weeks later.
63. Bears beat Packers for 2018 NFC North title
It was the final hurdle in a return to prominence for the upstart 2018 Bears. Entering the season with new head coach Matt Nagy and few real expectations, the Bears surprised with a 12-4 record, winning 9 of their last 10 games after starting 3-3. In Week 15, the Bears clinched their first division title since 2010 against none other than the hated Green Bay Packers behind two touchdown passes from Mitchell Trubisky and a defense that intercepted Aaron Rodgers for the first time in what felt like forever. It was the cherry on top of a truly unexpected season, and any time you beat the Packers to clinch the division, you probably earn a spot somewhere on this list.
62. Bears hire Jerry Angelo
Brought on before the 2001 season, Angelo may have had his share of detractors, but he undoubtedly helped guide the Bears back toward relevance after six straight seasons without a playoff appearance. In his 11 years in charge, the Bears went 95-81, with the high point being an appearance in Super Bowl XLI against the Colts. Angelo hired Lovie Smith, one of the best coaches in franchise history, and had mostly solid success in the draft, selecting Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman, Matt Forte, Devin Hester, and Greg Olsen, among others. His trade for Jay Cutler remains a landmark moment in franchise history, even though the high hopes for the young QB never quite panned out, ultimately costing Angelo his job after the 2011 season.
61. Drafting Brian Urlacher
The Bears drafted 9th overall in the 2000 NFL Draft, and the linebacker they selected out of the University of New Mexico would go on to forge a legacy unmatched by most in franchise history. Only three men ever played more seasons than Brian Urlacher’s 13 with the Bears, and the middle linebacker was a force to be reckoned with every snap he played. No. 54 led the team in tackles in 8 of his 13 seasons and was named the AP Defensive Player of the year in 2005, becoming the 2nd player in franchise history to win the award after Mike Singletary. Urlacher revolutionized the middle linebacker position, as his elite athleticism allowing him to roam the middle of the field in coverage far better than most men his size would be able. Enshrined in Canton as a member of the Class of 2018, Urlacher’s place in league history and Bears lore will never be forgotten.