26th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Redskins 21, Bears 17: NFC Divisional Playoff, January 10, 1988
The Redskins had knocked the Bears from the playoffs in shocking fashion the previous season, but that was with the Bears led by an erratic 5′ 8″ quarterback in Doug Flutie. In 1987, Jim McMahon was back, and money was on the Bears to make easy work of the Redskins. Also thought to be in Chicago’s favor was “Bear Weather”, with the temperature hovering around 0 degrees for most of the Sunday afternoon game.
The Bears went to work quickly, jumping to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter on a Calvin Thomas rush and Ron Morris touchdown reception. But the defense gave the lead back, and Washington tied the game at 14 by halftime. The play that broke the Bears’ back came in the third quarter, when Redskin cornerback Darrell Green leapfrogged a sure tackle by Cap Boso on a punt return and raced 52 yards for what turned out to be the clinching touchdown.
The Bears did have the ball, able to drive, trailing 21-17 in the final moments of the game. On fourth down, Walter Payton caught a swing pass but was knocked out of bounds several yards short of the first down marker. In his final professional football game, Payton remained on the bench with his head in his hands for some time after the game ended. That enduring image of Payton lasts to this day.