Top 10 Moments in Chicago Bears-Green Bay Packers Rivalry
The rivalry between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers is the longest-running and most storied that the National Football League has to offer.
According to Pro-Football-Reference.com, the teams first met Nov. 27, 1921, when the Chicago Staleys defeated the Packers 20-0. Since then, the teams have met 185 more times. The Bears hold a slight 92-88 edge, with six games ending in ties.
It was very difficult to narrow the 10 best moments between the two teams. Preference was given to the games in which the teams had the most on the line—the list is topped with their two playoff meetings.
This list includes two very large men scoring touchdowns, as well as one very small man finding the end zone. There are close games and unexpected blowouts, field goals that were made and ones that were blocked. Many of the games between the two teams changed the course of their seasons, if not their entire franchises.
The rivalry between the Bears and the Packers has been—and continues to be—the best the NFL has. They've had many memorable games in the past and will almost certainly have many more in the future.
Note: All statistics and scoring summaries courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com.
10. Oct. 21, 1985: Bears 23, Packers 7
Every once in a while a single play turns a good football player into a national celebrity.
That's exactly what happened during a nationally televised Monday Night Football game in the Bears' lone Super Bowl campaign.
The Bears entered the game with a 6-0 record, fresh off clobbering the defending Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers 26-10. The Packers were an even 3-3, trying to break through after finishing 8-8 the previous two seasons.
The teams were tied 7-7 in the second quarter with the Bears driving. They reached the goal line when coach Mike Ditka brought in his 300-plus pound defensive lineman, William "The Refrigerator" Perry, as a blocking fullback.
This wasn't the first time Ditka put Perry in as a fullback. Previously he was used to clear holes, but this time he took the handoff and plunged into the end zone himself. With that, the legend of The Fridge was born.
The highlight of Perry's career came later that season when he scored a touchdown in Super Bowl XX as the Bears steamrolled the New England Patriots 46-10.
While Perry is best known for his charismatic personality and ability to pound his way into the end zone, he actually became a solid defensive tackle for the Bears. He had five sacks his rookie season and five more in his second year to go along with 84 tackles, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com.
However, regardless of what he did from then on, Perry's overall ability as a player never came close to his legend as The Fridge.
9. Sept. 7, 1980: Packers 12, Bears 6
The 1980 season may not have been memorable for either team, but their season opener, however, was hard to forget.
The Packers held Walter Payton to just 65 yards on 31 carries, while quarterback Mike Phipps threw three interceptions. Green Bay's James Lofton had five catches for 77 yards but was unable to reach the end zone as Lynn Dickey completed just 10 of his 22 passes.
The teams ended regulation with just a pair of field goals each, tied 6-6.
The Packers drove into field-goal range in overtime and lined up for Chester Marcol's third attempt of the game. The snap was good, and Marcol made contact with what would have been a 35-yard attempt, but Chicago's Alan Page jumped up and blocked the kick at the line of scrimmage. The ball bounced right back to Marcol, who grabbed it and ran around the left edge with a convoy of blockers for the game-winning touchdown.
That was one of the few highlights in Titletown that season. The Bears won the next game between the two teams 61-7—the most lopsided affair in the history of their rivalry. Neither team made the playoffs that season, as they combined to win just 12 games.
8. Nov. 7, 1999: Bears 14, Packers 13
This game will forever be known in Bears' lore as the Walter Payton Game, thanks to the heroics of Bryan Robinson.
Robinson, a little-known defensive end, became unforgettable when he reached up and blocked Ryan Longwell's 28-yard attempt with seven seconds left to give the Bears a one-point win.
It was an emotional day at Lambeau Field, as Payton had passed away just six days earlier at 45 years old. While memorials were held at Soldier Field, the Bears traveled to Green Bay for what nobody figured would be much of a game.
The Packers had beaten the Bears 10 straight times and held a 10-7 lead at halftime. Jim Miller—who relieved the injured Cade McNown—put the Bears ahead with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Bobby Engram in the third quarter.
While the Packers moved the ball, they had a hard time getting it into the end zone. They got within a point with a field goal. They were easily in range to win the game, but Robinson thwarted their attempt.
Robinson played 14 years in the NFL, retiring in 2010 with the Arizona Cardinals. He was always a stout run defender but never topped five sacks in a season. That was the only kick he ever blocked, although he doesn't think he deserves the credit.
"Walter Payton picked me up in the air. I can't jump that high," Robinson told the Chicago Tribune after the game.
The Packers ended up missing the playoffs by one game that season, and head coach Ray Rhodes was fired after just one year.
7. Oct. 31, 1994: Packers 33, Bears 6
The Monsoon Bowl as some call it—due to the downpour that flooded the field—wasn't much of a contest at all. It showed the world who the top team in the division going forward would be.
The Bears entered this Monday night game against the Packers with a 4-3 record, while Green Bay was 3-4. In addition to gaining another game on their division rival, the Bears had extra motivation because they were retiring the jerseys of Hall of Famers Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers. Everything was set up for a Bears win, but the Packers had other ideas.
Although Brett Favre threw for just 82 yards, the Packers forced five Chicago Bears turnovers. They intercepted quarterbacks Steve Walsh and Erik Kramer three times combined and recovered two of the Bears' four fumbles.
Edgar Bennett ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns, while Favre added a 36-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that put the Packers ahead 14-0.
A Bennett plunge from a yard out made the score 21-0 in the third quarter before Bennett scored on a pass from Favre to put them ahead 27-0 in the fourth.
The Packers were even more dominant in the second meeting in early December, winning 40-3.
The odd thing about the Packers' domination against the Bears that year is that they were nearly equal teams. Both finished with regular season records of 9-7 and made it to the second round of the playoffs. Yet, there was a big difference between the directions they were headed, as the Packers went on to win the next eight meetings.
6. Nov. 12, 1995: Packers 35, Bears 28
The Bears could have had it easy as Favre—the league's Most Valuable Player that year—was dealing with a badly sprained ankle that made him questionable to play.
Unfortunately for the Bears, Favre not only played, but he also had one of the best games of his career. He completed 25-of-33 passes for 336 yards and five touchdowns, almost single-handedly defeating the Bears in what turned out to be a turning point for both teams that season.
The Bears entered the game with a 6-2 record—with one of their losses coming to the Packers—while Green Bay was 5-4, having lost two straight.
The Bears led 28-21 after a Rashaan Salaam one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. The Packers tied it up when Favre found a wide open Robert Brooks for a 44-yard score.
With about 9:30 left in the game, Favre rolled to his right and threw a screen pass to Bennett for what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown.
Including the playoffs, the Packers won seven of their next nine games. Their only two losses came when Tampa Bay upset them 13-10 in overtime in Week 15 and to the eventual Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship game.
The Bears won just three of their final six games and missed the playoffs by one game. That was the start of a downward slide, as they went 7-9 the next season, followed by back-to-back 4-12 seasons.
Had Favre not played that day, there's no telling what might have happened.
5. Nov. 23, 1986: Bears 12, Packers 10
The end result had very little to do with what made this game significant.
The Bears were the defending Super Bowl champions and—although they hadn't been quite as dominant as the year before—it looked like they could find themselves on top of the NFL world again as they entered the game with a 9-2 record.
The Packers, meanwhile, were struggling. Life under Forrest Gregg as the head coach wasn't going much better than it had with Bart Starr, as they were just 2-9 when they went to Soldier Field.
The game was much closer than the teams' records indicated it should have been, but it was a dirty play that made the game memorable. After Bears quarterback Jim McMahon threw an interception, Green Bay defensive lineman Charles Martin picked him up and bodyslammed him.
McMahon separated his shoulder on the play and missed the rest of the season. The Bears finished the regular season 14-2, but their season ended in the second round of the playoffs. In that game, rookie quarterback Doug Flutie completed just 11-of-31 passes for 134 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Technically, the Redskins are the team that ended the Bears season. In reality, however, it was Martin and the Packers who knocked them out of Super Bowl contention.
4. Sept. 30, 1962: Packers 49, Bears 0
After winning the last two games of the 1961 season and the first two of the 1962 season, the Bears were feeling confident, but the Packers let them know why they were the defending champions.
Since the end of the 1961 season, the Bears were riding a four-game winning streak in which they had averaged more than 30 points per game.
They welcomed the defending champions for what they figured would be a great game, but it turned out to be one of Green Bay's most lopsided wins in the history of the rivalry.
The Packers didn't score until the second quarter, when Jim Taylor got in from a yard out. They led 14-0 at halftime after Starr hit Ron Kramer for a 54-yard score.
Green Bay poured it on in the third, as Taylor ran for two more touchdowns, and Elijah Pitts added one to increase the lead to 35-0 after three.
Starr called his own number for a five-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Then Herb Adderley returned an interception for the exclamation point.
Overall, the Packers out-gained the Bears 409-176. Chicago turned the ball over five times. Taylor finished with 126 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 17 carries, while Starr completed 9-of-12 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown.
The Packers went 13-1 that season, defeating the New York Giants 16-7 in the NFL title game. The Bears finished 9-5 and would have to wait a year before they could call themselves champions.
3. Nov. 17, 1963: Bears 26, Packers 7
The Bears weren't quite ready for the Packers in 1962, but a year later they were fully prepared as they won a game that helped launch them to the championship.
Both teams entered the game with 8-1 records, as the Bears upset the two-time defending champions in the first week. Chicago later lost to San Francisco, keeping Green Bay's hopes alive going into their Week 10 game.
The Bears controlled the game from the opening quarter as Roger LeClerc made two field goals and Willie Galimore added a 27-yard touchdown run to put the Bears ahead 13-0 in the opening period.
LeClerc added two more field goals in the second half before Billy Wade put the game away with a five-yard touchdown, putting Chicago ahead 26-0.
Green Bay scored later in the fourth, but it was the Bears' day.
Chicago out-gained the Packers 317-232, including 248 rushing yards. Their defense forced seven Green Bay turnovers, as they were without Starr for the game.
The Bears tied their next two games but still finished half a game ahead of the Packers to represent the Western Division in the NFL title game.
Chicago later topped the New York Giants for the championship, but tragedy struck before the next season. Two of Chicago's key offensive players—Galimore and Bo Farrington—died in a car crash before the 1964 season. It took the Bears decades to recover. The Packers went on to win championships in three of the next four years, including the first two Super Bowls.
2. Jan. 23, 2011: Packers 21, Bears 14
The Bears had a chance to make sure they didn't see the Packers in the playoffs in Week 17. They lost that game, and the Packers made them pay again in the NFC Championship game.
The Packers entered the Week 17 matchup needing a win to qualify for the playoffs. The Bears—perhaps thinking they wouldn't see the Packers in the playoffs anyway—didn't play like they had anything at stake. Technically, they were right. They were locked into the second seed no matter what happened. However, the Packers pulled off a couple upsets before getting their biggest win in the history of the rivalry.
The Packers won the Week 17 game 10-3. They won in Philadelphia in the first round and in Atlanta in the second round to set up an NFC Championship game in Soldier Field.
Green Bay took a 14-0 lead in the first half before Chicago lost starting quarterback Jay Cutler to a sprained knee.
Backup quarterback Caleb Hanie breathed some life into a struggling Bears' offense, leading them to their first touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter.
The Bears got the ball back, down by seven, but Hanie threw a pass directly to Green Bay defensive tackle B.J. Raji, who returned an interception 18 yards for a touchdown. That touchdown proved to be the difference.
Hanie didn't give up. He came back with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Earl Bennett to get the Bears within a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
The undrafted second-year man from Colorado State had one more chance. He drove the Bears down the field but was intercepted at the Green Bay 13-yard line with 43 seconds left, clinching a Packers' win.
The black eye on the game was Cutler's injury. The Bears didn't announce the severity at the time, leading many to criticize him for quitting on his team. It was later revealed to be a sprained knee.
1. Dec. 14, 1941: Bears 33, Packers 14
The first time the teams met to play in the league championship game was the first game after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Bears took a big lead in the second quarter and never looked back. They went on to win the championship seven days later.
The teams met for a third time that season for a tiebreaker. Both teams entered the game with 10-1 records, losing only to each other.
The defending champion Bears beat the Packers 25-17 in their first game, but Green Bay got revenge with a 16-14 win to put both teams at 7-1.
Although footage from the pre-Super Bowl era can be hard to find, highlights of this game are on the Bears' team website.
Chicago's Hugh Gallarneau fumbled the opening kick, leading to a Green Bay touchdown as Clarke Hinkle scored from a yard out. That was the only lead the Packers would have as Chicago scored 30 unanswered points before halftime.
Gallarneau made up for his mistake with an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown, but the Bears still trailed after the extra point was no good.
Bob Snyder put Chicago ahead with a 24-yard field goal, and Chicago never looked back. Norm Standlee added two touchdown runs before Bob Swisher scored to put the Bears ahead 30-7.
Chicago held Green Bay to just 33 rushing yards on 36 attempts while gaining 377 of their own.
The Bears had little trouble against the New York Giants in the championship game seven days later, winning 37-9. After the game, many of those involved enlisted in the service, including Bears coach George Halas.