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-best 28 players inducted into the 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" which 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.
40. Mitchell Trubisky throws six TDs (Sept. 30, 2018)
In the best game of his young career, Trubisky carved up a hapless Tampa Bay secondary for six passing scores, one shy of the team and league record set in 1943 and still co-held by Sid Luckman. The first five scores all came in the first half, and Trubisky hit a different receiver each time: Trey Burton, Allen Robinson, Tarik Cohen, Josh Bellamy, and Taylor Gabriel. Mitch put the cherry on top with a second scoring toss to Gabriel in the third, and the Bears coasted to a 48-10 romp over the Bucs in a tantalizing glimpse of #10's potential.
39. Bryan Robinson's blocked FG in "The Walter Game" (Nov. 7, 1999)
The Bears and the sport lost one of their greatest players and ambassadors on November 1, 1999, when Walter Payton died at just 45 years old from complications of a rare liver disease. But while millions mourned his passing, the ending of the following Sunday's Bears/Packers game provided one more legendary moment linked to the greatest player in franchise history. On November 7, the Bears led the Packers 14-13 late in the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field, but Brett Favre drove Green Bay to the Bears 10-yard line for an easy game-winning field goal attempt with less than 10 seconds left. But Ryan Longwell's 28-yard attempt was blocked by lineman Bryan Robinson, who perhaps had a little divine intervention on his side. The upset that day has been known ever since as "The Walter Game."
38. Urlacher vs. Vick (2001)
When Michael Vick entered the league as the No. 1 overall pick in 2001, he immediately became one of the most dynamic threats at the position across the entire NFL. However, in his most extensive game action of his career to that point, he was absolutely dominated by Brian Urlacher and the Bears' defense in Week 4 of the 2001 season. Urlacher's own speed was on display throughout the game, as he helped hold Vick to just 18 rushing yards and the Falcons to only a field goal in a 31-3 win. #54 also had one of the best sequences in his career in the fourth quarter. First, he sacked Vick and forced a fumble that Atlanta recovered; two plays later, Urlacher recovered another Vick fumble and sprinted 90 yards for a touchdown - the longest TD return of his career.
37. "Club-Dub'ing" (2018)
Matt Nagy's arrival prior to the 2018 season led to a massive change in culture, with a noticeable uptick in confidence in the locker room and a sense of camaraderie that hadn't been seen since the Lovie Smith days. One example of this "attitude adjustment" was the post-win "Club Dub", wherein the locker room would turn into a dance party to celebrate each win - an ultra-exclusive club that popped up 12 times in Nagy's opening season.
36. The Osmanski run (Dec. 8, 1940)
George Halas' Bears won six NFL titles during his time as head coach, but none more impressive than their 73-0 demolition of Washington in the 1940 league championship game. It remains the largest margin of victory in NFL history, and the onslaught began with running back Bill Osmanski. 55 seconds into the contest, Osmanski swept left and sprinted 68 yards for the first points of the game. The run set the tone and the Bears never let up, and legend goes by the end of the game, officials were pleading with Halas to not kick extra points into the crowd, as they were running out of footballs. The 1940 season was the first of four consecutive trips to the league championship game, with Halas' Bears winning three out of four titles.
35. Mike Brown's consecutive OT pick-sixes (Oct. 28/Nov. 4, 2001)
Quite simply, two of the most heart-stopping finishes to any Bears game, ever - and they happened in back-to-back weeks! In Week 7 of the 2001 season, the Bears and 49ers needed overtime at Soldier Field after a late Shane Matthews TD pass to David Terrell and a two-point conversion by Anthony Thomas. On the first play from scrimmage in OT, Jeff Garcia's pass to Terrell Owens was tipped into the air and picked off by safety Mike Brown, who weaved 33 yards into the end zone for the walk-off score in a 37-31 thriller. The next week was even more improbable. The Bears scored two touchdowns in the final 32 seconds of regulation (sandwiched around a recovered onside kick) to force OT against the Browns. On Cleveland's first possession of OT, a Tim Couch pass was tipped high into the air, and fell into Brown's hands. The safety scampered into the end zone untouched, setting off pandemonium at Soldier Field, and Brown just kept running right down the tunnel as his jubilant teammates followed suit.
34. Walter Payton rushes for NFL-record 275 yards (Nov. 20, 1977)
#34 at #34. Sweetness at his greatest, even though he wasn't even at full strength for this record-setting performance. Payton wasn't sure he was going to play in the game thanks to intense flu symptoms he suffered from all week, but play he did. Payton rushed the ball an astounding 40 times for a record 275 yards, including 144 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone. That record has since been broken by several players, but the mark stood for an impressive 23 years - and Walter wasn't even at full strength when he set it.
33. The Latta catch vs Chiefs (Nov. 13, 1977)
Entering the 1977 season, the Bears had not made the playoffs in over a decade, last appearing in the postseason in their 1963 championship game win. Sitting at 3-5 entering their Week 9 tilt against the Chiefs, the Bears were in danger of missing out on the playoffs once again. But a miracle win that day gave the team a spark, and the key play was made by tight end Greg Latta. The Bears trailed the Chiefs 27-21 with just 3 seconds left in the game, but they had the ball at the KC 37-yard line. On the final play of the game, QB Bob Avellini found Latta wide open for the game-tying score, and the Bears eked out a narrow victory with the subsequent extra point. The dramatic win kicked off a six-game winning streak that catapulted the team into the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons.
32. Shaun Gayle returns Sean Landeta's whiff (Jan. 5, 1986)
The 1985 Bears marched through the playoffs without ever really being challenged, and there was one play in each of the three dominant wins that became a signature moment. For the divisional round win over the Giants, it was Sean Landeta's whiffed punt being returned for a touchdown. On an incredibly windy day at Soldier Field, Landeta stepped into a punt on his own goal line, and whether a gust of wind caught the ball on his drop or not, he completely missed the ball with his foot, and Shaun Gayle scooped up the loose ball for an easy five-yard touchdown. The Bears allowed just 181 yards of total offense en route to an NFC Championship berth and a date with the Los Angeles Rams...
31. Annihilating Eric Dickerson (Jan. 12, 1986)
...and in that game, the Bears made a point to ensure that star running back Eric Dickerson would not impede their path to New Orleans. Dickerson had just run for a playoff-record 234 yards against the Cowboys the week before, but the Bears made sure he would not beat them. Buddy Ryan's players were under orders to hit Dickerson early and often, and they followed through, allowing just 46 yards to Dickerson on 17 carries, and forcing 2 fumbles. Dickerson and the rest of the Rams offense did nothing against the vaunted Bears defense, gaining just 130 total yards on a bitterly cold Sunday. The Bears cruised, 24-0, earning a date with the Patriots in Super Bowl XX two weeks later.
Thus ends the first half of our countdown - if you missed any previous installments, they are all linked below. Check back next week for moments 30-21!