26th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game

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.

One Response to “26th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game”

  1. As I said in the other thread, this one hurt, as the Bears had a favorable path ahead to a Super Bowl appearance if they got by the Redskins – they knew they could beat the Vikings (though it wouldn’t have been easy).

    The biggest surprise is how the Bears D gave up the early 14-0 cushion before halftime. This was the last time that most of the personnel that made up the 1985 Bears’ D played together (as Fencik, Marshall and Wilson did not play on the units to follow). and for whatever reason the 1987 unit gave up a surprising number of points, especially after the strike. This could have been due to a move away from “46 defense” principles after Buddy Ryan left.

    Anyway, about the game: Green’s punt return TD was amazing. Then the Bears had seemingly endless chances the last 1 1/2 quarters to tie or go ahead, but at least one drive ended with a McMahon INT. Payton at least ended the season strong – giving it his all.

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