14th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Bears 20, Saints 17: October 27, 1991
Not many teams win games when their quarterback finishes 5/22 for 61 yards and two interceptions on the day. Those were Jim Harbaugh’s statistics on this day, and the Bears squeaked out a dramatic win.
The Saints were 7-0 and the darlings of New Orleans and the NFC when the 5-2 Bears came to town. The raucous Superdome crowd fully expected the Saints to remain undefeated, and through most of the game it looked like that would be what would happen.
As bad as Harbaugh played on the day, the Bears were never out of the game. It just looked like they would never be in it, either. The Saints scored a touchdown, Kevin Butler kicked two field goals, and Saints kicker Morton Andersen tacked on a 60-yard kick in the first half. Brad Muster then gave the Bears a 13-10 lead in the third quarter with one of his patented touchdown runs on which he looked so slow as to be running in reverse, but still punching it in. But later in the third, Saints receiver Floyd Turner caught his second touchdown of the day, putting New Orleans back in front at 17-13.
New Orleans controlled the clock through most of the fourth quarter, and due to Harbaugh’s ineffectiveness, the Bears didn’t do anything when they did have the ball. But with just minutes remaining in the game, enormous Bear defensive tackle William Perry made a crucial third-down stop, giving Harbaugh one more opportunity to drive the length of the field for a touchdown.
Bear coach Mike Ditka actually had to be talked out of putting Harbaugh back in the game for the final drive after he already had backup Peter Tom Willis warming up. Harbaugh persevered, and drove the Bears into range, mainly on several long passes over the middle to Wendell Davis. With moments remaining in the game, Harbaugh hit 1991 legend Tom Waddle with a pass just short of the goal line, and “little Tommy” dove in to win the game in improbable fashion. The play that won the game was “13 Wing Jet,” a Ditka staple in the clutch.
The following spring I found myself in New Orleans, and remember a cab driver telling me how upset he was that those two “slow white boys from Chicago” (Waddle and Muster) had ruined the Saints’ perfect season.