32nd Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
Vikings 21, Bears 20: October 4, 1992
Anyone who was alive and watching the Bears in 1992 remembers this game. And those that weren’t have certainly seen replays. Within this game came the final unraveling of Bears legend Mike Ditka, and it ended up being the final nail in his coffin as Bears coach.
Following a stunning opening day win over Detroit, the Bears dropped to 2-2 on losses to the New York Giants and the New Orleans Saints. Chicago then pounded Atlanta leading into the matchup with the revamped Vikings, led by rookie coach Dennis Green. Minnesota led the division with a 3-1 record, and the Bears and Packers were 2-2, so already they were playing for their playoff lives.
As many problems as the ’92 Bears had, they didn’t show through the first three quarters on this day in the Metrodome. Chicago’s attack was steady and effective early on in this game. Tom Waddle caught a diving touchdown pass from Jim Harbaugh, and the quarterback himself ran for another. These scores with two Kevin Butler field goals gave the Bears a 20-0 lead early in the final period. The Bears seemed destined to win.
With 12-some minutes remaining in the game, the Bears had just stopped the Vikings again and had the ball on their own 35. If the Bears would be able to grind out a drive ending in a field goal, the game would have been out of reach. Hell, with a 20-0 lead in the fourth quarter it should have already been out of reach. Harbaugh stepped to the line, and running back Neal Anderson went into motion to the left. Harbaugh dropped back and threw a quick pass to the left, aiming for Anderson, but the pass flew well off its apparent target and landed in the hands of Viking defensive back Todd Scott. Nothing but daylight stood between Scott and the end zone, and the Metrodome crowd erupted.
But the crowd wasn’t all that erupted. Television cameras cut to Ditka on the sideline, and the voliatle coach exploded like never before. As Harbaugh approached the sidelines, Ditka repeatedly cursed the quarterback, paced and emulated throwing his clipboard. Harbaugh mainly looked straight ahead. It would later be revealed that Harbaugh was under a strict no audible directive in the din of Minnesota’s stadium, and he had disobeyed his coach’s orders by doing just that. (Anderson was not prepared for nor expecting the pass when it came his way).
Chicago fans can imagine the ending even if they didn’t see the game. The Vikings went on to surge for two more fourth-quarter touchdowns and won the game in stunning fashion. Ditka spoke later shot back at the media by saying “99 plays I’m calm and on one I get excited. And you sonofabitches have to make a big deal about it. If you think this is a G–d–n soap opera, you’re full of sh*t.”
The 1992 Bears would recover briefly, winning their next two games and possessing a 4-3 record, but it was for naught as they lost seven of the final eight to seal their legendary coach’s fate.