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.