Fifth Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game

Fifth Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game Since 1979

Bears 27, Browns 21: November 4, 2001

Hard to choose, of course, between the 2001 miracle games as to which was more amazing.  Actually for me it isn’t, I believe hands-down the Cleveland miracle game was more amazing.

I’ve been going to Chicago Bears games at Soldier Field for 31 years as of 2010, as of 2001 it had been 23 years.  And in all the years before, and all the years since, I have still not met a worse crowd than the Cleveland fans that day.  But we had the last laugh.

The Bears looked pretty miserable throughout that game.  The contest started just as the prior miracle against San Francisco had-with Chicago’s quarterback getting hit, fumbling, and the fumble being returned for a touchdown by the opposition.  This time only the quarterback was different: with Jim Miller still out with a rib injury, Shane Matthews started for the Bears and looked shaky in regulation.  Not from a stats standpoint-he finished with 357 yards on 50 attempts but threw three interceptions.

What counted was that with less than two minutes to go in regulation the Bears trailed their guests 21-7.  The Cleveland fans were loud and obnoxious, one of them climbing up my row to insult Bears fans en masse (until I called security over on him).  But with 28 seconds on the clock, Matthews hit Marty Booker on a touchdown pass to bring the Bears within 7.  Now all the Bears would have to do would be to successfully kick onsides, get the ball back and score another touchdown, just to tie the game.  The Soldier Field crowed amped up when yes, Chicago did successfully recover the onside kick.

The Bears had the ball on Cleveland’s 47 and one timeout, and after two short passes to running back James Allen, the Bears were ready to take a final hail mary shot with 34 yards in front of them to the end zone.  Matthews dropped back and lofted the ball to the right side of the end zone into a maze of defenders.  The ball was tipped, and again James Allen dove into position to catch the ball.  He grabbed it, and after the extra point the score was indeed tied 21-21.  Many, many Bears fans had left by this point, but those that remained absolutely erupted.

In overtime the Bears failed to move the ball and punted to the Browns.  On third down, Cleveland’s Tim Couch attempted a pass to his left, but the ball was batted high in the air by Bear defensive end Bryan Robinson.  As the crowd followed the ball, individuals may not have noticed who was running with perfect timing to pluck it out of the air.  It was none other than safety Mike Brown, hero of the previous week.  Brown dashed untouched into the end zone, and continued running straight into the locker room as Soldier Field rocked.  The Bears won their second consecutive overtime thriller, this one with a score of 27-21.

One of these games in a season would be amazing.  Two in a season would be unbelievable.  But two in successive weeks?  Unthinkable.  And amazing.

4 Responses to “Fifth Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game”

  1. Rob In Houston on August 18th, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    When I think back a few seasons ago to when the Bears were struggling with letting Mike Brown go, these 2 games are the ones that stuck in my head at the time. It’s really too bad that Mike couldn’t shake the injury bug and play more complete seasons.

  2. Ah the Browns game. I was watching it in a bar in San Francisco, and I was so fed up with the way the Bears were playing that I walked out when it was 21 – 7. Later that evening I turned on NFL Primetime to see how bad the bears had lost. Just about went into shock as the game highlights were rolled out. Incredible!

  3. Hey Roy!
    I remember that game and those final two minutes vividly. I was watching with my cousins, as I did nearly every Sunday back in 2001, on a small tv at their nw side garden apartment. Good times. But I can’t imagine the “in-your-face” joy of seeing Brown finish that play, at the stadium, in the presence of all those a-hole Cleveland fans.

  4. I agree Roy – This was the more amazing of the comebacks, since they were down by 14 w/ 2 minutes to go. It really sounds like you were placed amongst some particularly obnoxious fans!
    I watched this on TV, and unlike the 1991 MNF OT win against the Jets, I did NOT turn this one off. Not b/c the previous week’s win over SF created any optimism, but I guess I wanted to see if Matthews could narrow the final margin to 21-14.
    For the first 58 minutes, this game appeared to herald the arrival of the Browns’ D. But – like the Jets’ Blair Thomas in 1991 – this D seemed to lose its mojo after this loss, never becoming an elite unit. I didn’t really perk up till the onside kick recovery (the bottom-of-the-pile struggle lasted about 2 minutes if I remember rightly). 2 harmless completions that netted just 13 yards tempered my optimism a bit. But then Allen’s catch was simply incredible (did Terrell, Robinson or Booker tip it just right?) And then the game-winning pick-six by Brown was so surprising that I just uncontrollably laughed out of disbelief for at least 5 minutes. Those 2 weeks were an awfully fun time to be a Bears fan!

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