A trip down misery memory lane for the Monsters of the Midway
The Chicago Bears are now 0-3 after an embarrassing 26-0 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Chicago was shut out for the first time since 2002. The Bears have now lost eight regular season games in a row, dating back to last season. It is safe to say the franchise has truly hit rock bottom. It’s times like this when I like to focus on milestones, milestones of misery that is.
Here is my list of the most embarrassing, soul-crushing losses in the last thirty years of Bears futility. Here is part one with losses up until 2000.
5) January 3, 1987. NFC Divisional Round game. Chicago Bears vs. Washington Redskins. It was supposed to be the beginning of a dynasty for the defending Super Bowl champs as the 14-2 Bears embarked on what many Chicagoans felt would be another romp through the playoffs.
Even though Jim McMahon was lost for the remainder of the season thanks to an egregious cheap shot from Packer Charles Martin in week 12, the Bears’ defense was dominant. It allowed 187 points through 16 games, the fewest surrendered by any team in the 1980s, even fewer than the 198 points allowed by that historic defense the year before. And of course, there was Walter. Payton racked up another 1,000 yard season, his tenth and final 1,000 yard season in his Hall of Fame career. But Doug Flutie, in only his second NFL start, was exceptionally horrible, completing just 11 of 31 passes, including five measly completions in the second half.
The Bears took a 13-7 lead into half time, but the final two quarters belonged to the Redskins. In the third quarter, Darrell Green returned an interception from Flutie to the Bear 26-yard line that set up Jay Schroeder’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Art Monk. It was game over from here as the Redskins cruised to the 27-13 victory. Bye-bye dynasty.
4) January 10, 1988. NFC Divisional Round game. Chicago Bears vs. Washington Redskins. It was supposed to be a revenge game for the Bears, a chance to get even with the team that bounced them out of the playoffs the year before. And it was at home too. No way the Redskins beat the Monsters of the Midway two years in a row at Soldier Field.
As Wayne and Garth would say, “Way”. Things looked good for Chicago early, as the home team jumped out to a 14-0 lead. But before Bear fans could blink, two touchdown passes from Redskin quarterback Doug Williams tied the game. With 11:40 left in the third quarter, Redskin cornerback Darrell Green scored on a 52-yard punt return. It was all the soon-to-be champion Redskins needed as the Bears could only manage a Kevin Butler field goal the rest of the way in the 21-17 defeat. If things were not already depressing enough on the lake front, this was Payton’s last game. What a way to go out.
3) January 8, 1989. NFC Championship game. Chicago Bears vs. San Francisco 49ers.
It was supposed to be “Bear weather”, a wind chill of -26 degrees and 30 MPH winds. The 49ers were supposed to be a finesse team, one predicated on the West Coast offense. It lived and died on the arm of the greatest quarterback of all time, Joe Montana. But 30 MPH winds? Not even Joe Montana could throw the ball through 30 MPH winds.
Except he did.
Montana threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns. Half way through the first quarter, on a third and long from their own 39-yard line, Montana hooked up with the greatest wide receiver of all time, Jerry Rice, for a 61-yard touchdown. Rice was facing double coverage from Mike Richardson and Todd Krumm on the play, but was able to catch the pass and outrun both defenders. It was game over from there as the eventual world champion 49ers rolled to 406 total yards and a convincing 28-3 victory.
2) January 13, 1991. NFC Divisional Round Game. Chicago Bears vs. New York Giants. It was supposed to be the dawn of a new decade for Chicago. The eighties were great but perhaps the nineties would be even better. Yeah right. The beat down the Bears received at the hands of a Giant team that would hoist the Lombardi trophy in a few weeks foreshadowed what awaited the franchise in the ten years of frustration that followed.
The Bears accumulated a whopping 27 rushing yards…yes, 27… which was the lowest amount since 1967. This was Dan Hampton’s final game. The Hall of Famer saw his team give up 31 points while only scoring three. 1985 was already becoming a distant memory.
1) January 7, 1995. NFC Divisional Round game. Chicago Bears vs. San Francisco 49ers.
This wasn’t supposed to be anything. The Bears finished 9-7 in the regular season and exceeded everyone’s expectations by disposing of the Vikings in Minnesota 35-18 in the Wild Card came.
No one gave Chicago a chance against Steve Young and the 49ers in Candlestick, but few could predict just how lopsided this game turned out to be. The Bears opened the scoring with a Butler field goal. Then the flood gates opened. The 49ers scored 37 unanswered points, including 23 in the second quarter. The scoreboard read 44-15 when the final whistle blew and the Bears were probably wishing they hadn’t won that game in Minneapolis after all.