Eighth Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game Since 1979
Bears 20, Eagles 12: NFC Divisional Playoff: December 31, 1988
In the game forever known internationally as “The Fog Bowl”, the Bears would host a home playoff game for the fourth year in a row, and controlled home field advantage in the NFC playoffs after finishing the regular season with a 12-4 record. The Bears were on fire from 1984-1988, posting the most wins in history over a five year period (later broken in the 2000′s by both New England and Indianapolis).
The 1988 regular season was filled with strife for the Bears. It was the first after the team had lost star players such as Wilber Marshall and Willie Gault to contract disputes, Walter Payton and Gary Fencik to retirement, and Richard Dent and William Perry to injury. Head Coach Mike Ditka suffered a heart attack and had to miss a game, and Chicago had suffered a particularly demoralizing loss at Minnesota in the final week of the season. Yet at the same time the Bears were finding new stars like running back Neal Anderson, and veterans such as Dennis Gentry, Mike Tomczak, Dave Duerson and Dan Hampton had solid years as usual. Additionally, linebacker Mike Singletary was voted the defensive player of the year.
Brewing like the clouds destined to blow in off Lake Michigan was also the ongoing feud between Ditka and Eagles coach Buddy Ryan. Emotion was off the charts prior to the game.
The day dawned bright, sunny and remarkably warm for New Years’ Eve in Chicago with temperatures approaching the 50′s. While visibility still existed on the field, the Bears scored on a 64-yard pass from Tomczak to receiver Dennis McKinnon and on a 4-yard inside trap by Anderson. During this time, Philadelphia could only muster three field goals. Late in the second quarter, a fog blew in off the lake, completely descending upon the field, and fans in the stands down to the players on the field couldn’t see a thing–literally. Coordinators in the box couldn’t see what was happening, coachs couldn’t see into the middle of the field, and players couldn’t see more than 10 yards ahead of themselves at field level.
Luckily for the Bears, they scored their touchdowns while it was possible, because in the second half it was clearly impossible. After halftime, the Eagles and Bears tacked on an additional field goal each, and the final score was 20-12 Bears.
The Fog Bowl has been featured on NFL Network’s Top 10 Bad Weather Games, and apparently Eagles fans still feel that they were robbed of a victory because of the weather. I didn’t know the weather was responsible for scoring and giving up points.