31st Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Buccaneers 32, Bears 31: November 19, 1989
The 1989 Chicago Bears season was filled with finishes that seemed to defy anything a Hollywood writer might come up with. The Bears had seemed to be their usual dominating selves in the first four weeks of the season. They had started with a 4-0 record, beating the defending AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals on opening day, then Minnesota, Detroit and Philadelphia. Then Hall of Fame defensive lineman Dan Hampton injured his knee and was lost for the season. Actually, John Mullin did a good job reporting in his book The Rise and Self Destruction that Hampton and Ditka approached Michael McCaskey, offering for Hampton to play through the pain in 1989 if only McCaskey would guarantee Hampton’s 1990 salary. McCaskey balked, and Hampton was forced to have surgery and miss the remainder of the ’89 season.
Following the loss of Hampton, the Bears lost three straight. The first of those defeats was in Tampa. The Bears actually scored 35 points, but gave up 42 as the lowly Bucs ran and threw all over the Chicago defense. After the three-game losing streak, the Bears took two of their next three, entering the November 19th game against Tampa at Soldier field with a 6-4 record and still a reasonable shot at the playoffs. Ditka had benched Tomczak, the incumbent starter, after the losing streak, and Harbaugh was set to start his fourth game at the helm.
On this day, Harbaugh was brutal, throwing for just 126 yards on 12 completions with 3 interceptions. Ditka inserted Tomczak in the fourth quarter with the Bears trailing 23-10. Tomczak promptly threw a 58-yard touchdown pass to Ron Morris, but the Bear defense gave it right back up when they allowed a 78 yard pass from Vinny Testaverde to Mark Carrier. But Tomczak was far from done. Tomczak followed up the Tampa score by tossing successive touchdown passes to Wendell Davis, the first a 26-yarder, then a 52-yarder. It looked as if Tomczak would play the hero, rallying the Bears to victory from a 13 point deficit in the final period.
Following the last Bears score, they led 31-29. All they had to do was stop Tampa one more time with less than two minutes remaining. But they couldn’t do it. Tampa marched down the field, and Donald Igwebuike kicked the Buccaneers to their first ever season sweep of the Bears.