Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game #18B since 1979
Bears 14, Saints 10: October 3, 1999
I mentioned in the beginning of this series that I started with a top 20, then top 25, finally top 55 games since 1979, because there are just so many. Turns out that even 55 wasn’t enough. At this point it’s 57, with a #18B and 16B added since I just couldn’t resist adding these additional two.
When they faced the New Orleans Saints in October 1999, the Bears were 1-2. Chicago had started the season with a rousing win, but faltered in successive weeks against Seattle and Oakland. October 3rd that year broke cool and rainy as the Bears welcomed back Saints coach Mike Ditka for his second visit to his old home.
Nothing much went right for the Bears through the first 55 or so minutes of the game. Ditka’s offense controlled the Bears defense for the most part behind the running of rookie Rickey Williams, who rushed for 84 yards on the day. Saints quarterback Billy Joe Hobert was knocked out before halftime and replaced, by, Billy Joe Tolliver. You heard me right. The pair of Billy Joe’s were efficient but unspectacular, throwing for 178 yards to augment William’s running.
The Bears couldn’t even get on the board until late in the fourth, when Curtis Conway caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Shane Matthews. It seemed like that would be too little too late, until Matthews came back and hit Conway on another touchdown, this one a six-yarder, for the winning score with just seconds remaining.
The surprising win ended Chicago’s two-game losing streak, while it sent Ditka’s Saints into a death spiral. New Orleans would lose five more in a row and ten of their next 11 to seal Ditka’s fate in his final coaching job.