46th Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game since 1979
NFC Divisional Playoff: Eagles 33, Bears 19: January 19, 2002
Chicago was awash in Bears fever, as the Bears were in the playoffs for the first time since 1994. And they hadn’t just snuck in with help from another team as they did that season. The 2001 Bears had finished 13-3 and pulled off many stunning victories. At the same time, they couldn’t beat the Green Bay Packers, so this should have been some indication of how they would fare against the tough teams.
The Bears were favored in the game with prognosticators picking the tough Bears defense over Donovan McNabb and his underwhelming corps of receivers. But it wouldn’t be McNabb’s receivers that would do the damage in this contest.
The Bears played their usual conservative brand of offense favored by coordinator John Shoop in the early going. Rookie of the Year running back Anthony Thomas found running lanes not so open against the tough Eagle defense. When quarterback Jim Miller finally took a shot down the field, the ball was woefully underthrown and intercepted by future Bear Damon Moore. Even worse, on the play Miller was blindsided by Eagle defensive end Hugh Douglas, and knocked from the game with a shoulder injury.
It was all over for the Bears at that point, as backup Shane Matthews couldn’t do anything but dink and dunk the ball down the field. Chicago did score two touchdowns on a reverse by Ahmad Merritt, and a 39-yard interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Jerry Azumah, but those scores plus an intentional safety by the Eagles didn’t bring the Bears close enough in the end.
The vaunted 2001 Bears defense was led by “800 pounds of ass” (Keith Traylor and Ted Washington) in the middle of their defensive line, and Philadephia figured out that by using the young, mobile McNabb, they could buy time for him to find his receivers down the field. And that’s exactly what happened, ending the 2001 Bears’ Super Bowl dreams.