11th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 24, Cardinals 23: October 16, 2006
Much like 1985, in the early part of the 2006 season, the Chicago Bears were running away with the NFL. The Bears won their first five games that year, and they didn’t just win them, they defeated their opponents by an average margin of 24 points.
At 5-0 the Bears visited the Arizona desert to take on the 1-4 Cardinals. Cardinal rookie Matt Leinart would be making his first start, and the crazy pregame television coverage focused on not if the Bears would win, but how badly they would beat their overmatched hosts.
How wrong everyone could have been…
Leinart and his offensive mates carved up the Bears in the first half, while Chicago starting quarterback Rex Grossman faltered. Grossman had been the subject of possible MVP conversations in the first five weeks of the season, but in the first half of the game was absolutely dreadful. At halftime, Arizona led the Bears 20-0. Toward the end of the third quarter the Cardinal lead was 23-3, and looked insurmountable.
Then, slowly, the Bear defense took control of the game. First, rookie defensive end Mark Anderson flattened Leinart with a blindside sack, forcing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown by Bear safety Mike Brown. Early in the fourth with the Cardinals running out the clock, Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher reached into a pile and ripped the ball out of the hands of Arizona’s Edgerrin James, and that fumble was returned 40 yards for a touchdown by Charles Tillman. The score at that point was 23-17 Cardinals.
The Bear offense under Grossman still couldn’t move the ball and score, but thanks to rookie phenom Devin Hester’s second punt return touchdown of the season, this one a 83 yarder, the Bears climbed all the way back to take a 24-34 lead.
It wasn’t over yet, though. The Cardinals drove to attempt a field goal in the final seconds. Despite the attempt being within kicker Neil Rackers’ range, he missed it, and the Bears pulled out an improbable victory.
Following his team’s loss, Cardinal coach Dennis Green went on a tirade that will be forever remembered by Bears fans, when he railed that if the media wanted to crown the Bears already, then why don’t they go ahead and “Crown their Ass!”