12th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game

12th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979

Bears 19, Jets 13: September 23. 1991

It was the 1991 version of the Monday Night miracle.  The 3-0 Bears hosted the 1-2 Jets just a week after Chicago had stunned the world champion Giants on the lakefront.  But the Bears were stymied on getting into the end zone for most of the night, despite quarterback Jim Harbaugh hooking up with receive Tom Waddle to generate impressive statistics.

With less than two minutes remaining in the game, the Jets had the ball and were running out the clock, nursing a 13-6 lead.  To that point the Bears could only score two field goals in 58 minutes of play.  Then, on a routine kill-the-clock play, Bear defensive tackle Steve McMichael stripped the ball out of the hands of Jet running back Blair Thomas, and Chicago recovered.  Several plays later and with the final seconds ticking off the clock, Harbaugh hit running back Neal Anderson on a swing pass for a touchdown.  After Kevin Butler kicked the extra point, the Bears sent the game into overtime.

The drama still was not complete.  Early in overtime, the Jets marched to attempt a chip-shot field goal, but on the night that had started to go the Bears’ way, Pat Leahy’s kick sailed far to the right.  Late in overtime, with mere minutes remaining, Jim Harbaugh hit tight end Cap Boso on what appeared to be a 23-yard touchdown pass, and Boso came up with a face full of turf.  Chicago players celebrated and headed into the locker room, only to be pulled back out by the referees, some half dressed, when it was ruled that Boso was down at the one yard line.  The teams lined back up and finally Harbaugh sneaked the ball in for the winning touchdown.

On the night Harbaugh notched his first 300-yard game and Waddle caught eight passes for 102 yards.  But most importantly the Bears were 4-0.

3 Responses to “12th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game”

  1. I’m very pleased to see that this game made the list! This is probably in my top 2 or 3 memorable (and favorite) Bears games. At the time it occurred, it changed my perception of the Bears offense as one that could actually pass with some success instead of the usual conservative (and often bland to this writer) ball-control running philosophy employed by Ditka’s offenses. It was refreshing to see the Bears’ crop of overachieving receivers flourish.

    Though he had the amazing opening day TD to beat the Vikings, this was Tom Waddle’s breakthrough game. I still remember the MNF crew marvelling at the performance of “Little Tommy”. Wendell Davis (who was very solid from 91-93) stood out as well w/ 9 catches for 96 yards. It was simply unheard of for Bears wide receivers to catch a combined 17 passes in a game!

    This game also changed my view of the Jets. In my mind the last time the Jets were relevant was in 1986 when their great 10-1 start was shipwrecked by a blowout loss on MNF to Miami (of all teams), then lost 5 straight and fell to the Browns in the playoffs. Yet, in this game I was impressed by their balance on offense (Blair Thomas/Brad Baxter reminded me of Anderson/Muster, and Al Toon/Rob Moore was a fine WR tandem) as well as their solid run defense. Thomas was having his best NFL game (125 yds) before being stripped by McMichael in a GREAT individual play. Even though the Jets let this one slip away, I was happy to see this Bears win validated by the fact that they went on make the playoffs at 8-8, and in many of their losses played each team tough (2 close losses to Buffalo and a 17-10 playoff loss @ 11-5 Houston).

    When I watched the telecast (was 14 at the time), I’m ashamed to say I turned off the TV after Harbaugh’s 4th and goal scramble fell 1 yard short w/ 3+ minutes left, and the Jets gained at least 1 first down before the 2 minute warning. I must have wanted to confirm the game was over 5 minutes later, so needless to say when I turned it back on I was stunned to see Harbaugh and the offense back on the field in hurry-up mode and near the end zone! Thankfully MNF replayed McMichael’s amazing strip+recovery one more time to catch me up on what had happened.

    Finally, once again here’s Ditka’s approximate postgame quote, on their 4th close win in a row: “Some might say we’re the luckiest team on earth. Maybe that’s true…Aw, I’ll take the luck I’m tired of the skill!”

  2. Your memory and knowledge is impressive Tim. I have resources to go back and watch it now to boost my memory, but not the time. Of course this game would be on here, how could it not be? My story on this was I was a junior at Illinois State watching the game on TV. Lived about a mile away from Watterson Towers, the largest dorm in the world. After the ending, I started hearing noise like I lived near a stadium hearing the cheers. I walked or drove over there and there were like 500 people celebrating, crowd surfing, jumping off the entrance roof into the crowd. It was mayhem, you would have thought they just won the Super Bowl. Still have the front page of the school paper with the article and picture from that night decorating my Bears bar wall. Good times.

  3. I remember watching this game! I watched it with my older brother who was a big Jets fan. And I remember how brutal it was to watch for almost the entire game and that miracle comeback. Also… do you remember how Harbaugh handled that final drive? He FAKED a spike after getting into the red zone only to pass that TD! I remember it so vividly.

    Thanks for posting! I was reminded of this game when I came across an article of the most memorable Monday Night Football games. Must be perfect timing since the Bears face the Jets next Monday night!

    the real question: where can we find footage of this game?!

    Nelson

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