Bears

Top Bears Moments: 80-71

top_bears_moments.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

Top Bears Moments: 80-71

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 purely 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.

80. Forte’s London performance

Before the Bears head to London once more, it’s worth looking back at this performance from their last trip, when current “Football Aftershow” analyst Matt Forte had one of the finest performances of his career. Facing the Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium, Forte rushed for 145 yards, 32 of which came on a 2nd-quarter touchdown run during which a cutback by Forte caused two Tampa Bay defenders to memorably run into each other. Forte eclipsed 1,000 total scrimmage yards during his 7th game of the 2011 season, becoming the first player since 2004 to do so. Might we get another memorable moment across the pond this season?

79. Brian Griese’s comeback drive vs Eagles

The post-Super Bowl XLI 2007 season started poorly and ended worse, as the Bears sputtered to a 7-9 record. Rex Grossman was demoted after 3 weeks in favor of backup Brian Griese, who only lasted 5 weeks as the starter before a shoulder injury put Grossman back under center. But on October 21, Griese had his finest moment as a Bear. Down 16-12 to the Eagles in Philadelphia, the Bears had the ball with 1:52 to play - but at their own 3-yard line, with no timeouts to boot. What followed was masterful comeback drive engineered entirely by Griese, whose helmet radio went out, forcing him to make his own playcalls. The 11-play drive was capped by a 15-yard TD pass to Muhsin Muhammad with 15 seconds remaining, a score that clinched an improbable 19-16 Bears win.

78. Major Wright & Peanut back-to-back pick 6’s of Stafford

We already brought up a moment from this game earlier in the countdown, but another sequence from that game has Briggs’ big blow beat. The Bears were already up 2 touchdowns as Matt Stafford and the Lions began their first possession of the 3rd quarter. On 2nd and 8, Stafford’s pass was intercepted by safety Major Wright and returned 24 yards for a touchdown, putting the Bears comfortably ahead, 27-6. Robbie Gould kicked off, and the Lions’ offense took the field once again. On 3rd and 2 from his own 42, Stafford looked for Johnson, but Charles “Peanut” Tillman jumped the route, picked off the pass, and weaved his way into the endzone for a second consecutive pick-6 on back-to-back Lions drives, effectively sealing the game in favor of the Bears.

77. Walter Payton’s tackle-breaking run vs Chiefs

Speed. Power. Elusiveness. Grace. These attributes helped define the greatness of Walter Payton, and they were all on display in perhaps the single most impressive play of his legendary career on November 13, 1977 against Kansas City. The Bears were down 17 in the 3rd quarter when Sweetness took a handoff from Bob Avellini, and proceeded to wreck over half of the Chiefs defenders on the field. He spun away from two tacklers, made three other Chiefs miss, then ran over two others before being dragged down at the Kansas City 4-yard line. Walter may not have scored, but the run sparked a comeback effort that eventually led to a 28-27 Bears win, and this run lives on as one of the most memorable plays in the franchise’s long and storied history.

76. Mongo’s 7th inning stretch

Whereas we already brought you Mike Ditka’s frantic rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” earlier in this countdown, this edition of the stretch had a little more bite to it. On August 7, 2001, former Bears lineman Steve “Mongo” McMichael was scheduled to sing before the bottom of the 7th. In the previous inning, a close call went against the Cubs, and when McMichael took the mic, he casually promised to “have some speaks” with umpire Angel Hernandez over the ruling. Hernandez stared up at the broadcast booth as Mongo sang, making it one of the most surreal stretches in Wrigley Field history. Take a look at the entire incident below:

Steve 'Mongo' calls out Angel Hernadez during the stretch 

75. Richie Petitbon 101-yd INT return TD vs Rams in 1962

Petitbon was the original ball-hawking Bears safety, decades before Gary Fencik, Mike Brown, or Eddie Jackson roamed Soldier Field. He made the Pro Bowl 4 times, snagged 37 interceptions over his time with the team, and entered the franchise record books on December 9, 1962 at Wrigley Field. In an otherwise-ordinary win over the Rams, Petitbon intercepted a Rams pass just inside his own end zone and returned it all the way for a touchdown. The 101-yard interception return for a touchdown remains a franchise record to this day.

74. Bernard Berrian falling TD catch in NFC title game vs Saints

The 2006 NFC Championship game pitted the 13-3 Bears against the upstart New Orleans Saints and their resurgent QB, Drew Brees. The Bears defense harassed Brees and the Saints throughout the first half, but the Chicago lead was a slim 4 points as the Bears were driving to start the 4th quarter. That’s when QB Rex Grossman lofted a pass toward the corner of the end zone toward receiver Bernard Berrian. Berrian evaded his defender, dove to catch the ball, and then rolled into the endzone as snow fell around him. The touchdown gave the Bears some breathing room, and they turned over Brees on the next drive before scoring 14 more points in the quarter to put the game out of reach. Berrian’s play proved key as the Bears advanced to Super Bowl XLI, beating the Saints 39-14.

73. Bears hire Lovie Smith

Only two coaches in Bears history have taken a team to the Super Bowl, and Lovie Smith remains the last coach to do so. After Dick Jauron was fired with only one winning season to his name, the Bears hired the defensive coordinator away from the Rams in January 2004. Smith laid out three goals for his Bears: beat the Packers, win the division, and win the Super Bowl. His teams held their own against Green Bay and won three NFC North titles, but failed to capture that elusive Super Bowl title in February 2007 against Peyton Manning’s Colts. Nevertheless, Lovie’s tenure was very successful; his defenses routinely ranked among the league’s best, and he compiled an 81-63 record, which trails only George Halas and Mike Ditka for the third-most wins ever among Bears head coaches.

72. Brian Urlacher’s 85-yard pick-6 of Brett Favre

For all the accomplishments in his illustrious Hall of Fame career, there was one thing Brian Urlacher hadn’t done in his first 7 seasons: score a defensive touchdown. That all changed near the end of his 8th year with the Bears, against the Packers at Soldier Field on December 23, 2007. With the game already in hand by the 4th quarter, Urlacher tipped a Brett Favre pass, caught the deflection, and rumbled 85 yards to paydirt. The pick-6 capped off a 35-7 beatdown of Favre and Green Bay, and was the 2nd of 3 straight games with an interception for #54.

71. Bears find Robbie Gould

What if we told you the Bears found their franchise’s all-time leading scorer working construction in Pennsylvania in the middle of a season? It sounds too good to be true, but it’s exactly how Robbie Gould found his way to the franchise. After kicker Doug Brien hurt himself in Week 3 of the 2005 season, the Bears were in need of a kicker. Gould was working for M&R Contractingin Mill Hall, PA. before trying out for the Bears, and he was signed on October 8. From there, the rest was history. In the 2006 season, Gould made 26 consecutive field goals for the eventual NFC champs, kicked the Bears into the conference title game with an OT field goal against Seattle, and made the Pro Bowl. Gould eventually became the longest-tenured Bear before his release prior to the 2015 season, and ended his career in Chicago as the team's all-time leader in career points (1,207), and field goals made (276). Not bad for a former construction worker.

Come back next week for our next installment, and if you missed either of the previous two, you can find them right here:

The 100 Greatest Moments in Bears History: 90-81

The 100 Greatest Moments in Bears History: 100-91

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

Four players Ryan Pace should target to fix the Bears

Four players Ryan Pace should target to fix the Bears

The Chicago Bears have a 1 percent chance to make the playoffs in 2019 after falling to 4-6 following Sunday night's 17-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. As a result, it's time to start looking ahead to 2020 and the necessary moves GM Ryan Pace must make in order to take advantage of the Bears' already championship-worthy defense.

Pace will face some obvious challenges in the offseason, most notably the salary cap where the Bears won't have much flexibility. According to Spotrac, Chicago will be in the bottom-five teams in the league in cap space which will make shopping in free agency a limited endeavor. 

But as we've seen many times in the NFL, creative general managers can move money around in ways to free up the dollars for new contracts to make sense, and it's on Pace to make sure he does that in order to land at least two big-ticket free agents to fix two of this team's most pressing needs.

The NFL draft will also provide Pace with a great opportunity to add young, starting-quality talent in the second round. The Bears will end up with two of this year's top-60(ish) players and they have to make those picks count.

Here are four players Pace should target in order to turn the 2020 Bears into the contender they were supposed to be this season.

Sign QB Teddy Bridgewater (Saints)

Bridgewater would be the perfect target for Pace and the Bears in free agency to bring stability and reliability to the quarterback position. The former first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings has resurrected his career after a devastating knee injury in 2016. Now three seasons removed, Bridgewater proved he's ready to take on a starting job after playing five games in relief of Drew Brees after the future Hall-of-Famer suffered a hand injury.

Bridgewater won all five starts and completed nearly 68 percent of his passes along the way. He racked up 281 yards and two touchdowns in Week 7 against the Bears and displayed the kind of accuracy and decision-making that Matt Nagy's offense calls for.

The Bears won't be the only suitors for Bridgewater's services, but the appeal of starting in Chicago with a defense that's proven it can win games on its own will at least be enticing for the former Lousiville star.

Sign TE Austin Hooper (Falcons)

Hooper will command a contract similar to what Chicago paid Trey Burton in 2018 (four years, $32 million), so it will be hard to justify tying up that much money in the tight end position. But as 2019 has proven, there's no way for Nagy's offense to reach its potential without a weapon at tight end in the passing game.

Hooper missed Week 11 with an MCL injury and could be on the shelf for a few more weeks, but he's been one of the league's better playmakers at tight end this season. He has 56 catches for 608 yards and six touchdowns and has shown steady improvement over each year of his career. He had 71 catches for 660 yards and four scores in 2018.

Draft OT Prince Tega Wanogho (Auburn) in 2nd round

It'll take a little bit of luck for 'Prince' to fall to the Bears' first of two second-round picks, which right now sits at No. 46 overall. But the Bears have to be aggressive in upgrading the offensive line this offseason. While Charles Leno, Jr. and Bobby Massie are serviceable offensive tackles, a player like Tega Wanogho has the kind of traits that could eventually develop into a top-tier starter on either side of the offensive line.

The Bears could decide to prioritize the interior of the offensive line in the draft, and that's fine. But the best (and cheapest) way to land a high-end offensive tackle is through the draft, and Pace has to swing for the fences on a pick like this in 2020.

Draft EDGE Yetur Gross Matos (Penn State) in 2nd round

Pass rushers like Gross Matos are often pushed up the draft board because of the premium placed on the position, but with several teams expected to take a quarterback in the first round and with the number of ridiculously talented wide receivers in the 2020 class, a player like Gross Matos could suffer a bit of a fall.

Gross Matos has six sacks so far this season, which is a respectable total but has fallen a tad short of expectations entering the year. He had eight sacks in 2018 and was a popular pick to explode as a sack artist this fall. Still, he has the athletic profile Pace loves in his pass rushers and would be an instant upgrade over Leonard Floyd, who's failed to live up to his first-round billing since joining the Bears in 2016.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: What happens with Mitch Trubisky going forward?

mitch_tuning_out.jpg
USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: What happens with Mitch Trubisky going forward?

Hub Arkush, JJ Stankevitz, and Ben Finfer join the birthday boy on today's show.

0:00 - Sunday's debacle in L.A. continues to dominate headlines. So what happens with Mitch Trubisky going forward? Is Matt Nagy's offense fixable? And how did a team that was one of the favorites for the Super Bowl fall apart this quickly?

16:00 - Jeremy Roenick joins Kap to talk about Kirby Dach's hot streak and if the Jeremy Colliton saved his job by making one tweak to his scheme.

24:00 - Dave Wannstedt joins Kap to discuss the fallout from Sunday's Bears loss to the Rams. How would Wanny handle Eddy Pineiro's confidence? Plus he talks about how to keep a team motivated with the playoff hopes essentially gone.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

Subscribe: