Third Most Memorable Chicago Bears Game Since 1979
Bears 39, Saints 14: NFC Championship Game: January 21, 2007
The Bears were hosting the NFC Championship game for the first time since the 1988 season, coming off their first home playoff win since defeating the New Orleans Saints in January 1991. The Saints were media darlings, given all that the city of New Orleans endured in 2005, as if the city’s football team were directly connected to the events the populace endured. Every ESPN prognosticator polled picked the Saints to defeat the host Bears. How wrong they were.
New Orleans’ offense was high-powered indeed, led by quarterback Drew Brees and rookie running back Reggie Bush and receiver Marques Colston. On the first drive of the game, Colston caught a Brees pass, but was stripped by the opportunistic Bears defense. Chicago converted the turnover into a Robbie Gould field goal, and would tack on two more, leading 9-0 in the second period. The Saints offense was stuck in neutral, meanwhile, and after Bear runner Thomas Jones almost single-handedly moved the ball down the field nearing halftime leading to a touchdown, the Bears led 16-0. The Saints marched back just before the break, however, scoring a touchdown to make the score 16-7 at halftime.
In the third quarter each teams’ fortunes were completely reversed. After Reggie Bush took a swing pass an bolted past Bear linebacker Brian Urlacher for an 88-yard touchdown, the Bears looked as if they were in deep trouble, their lead whittled to 16-14. But Bush made a mistake, taunting Urlacher and flipping head over back into the end zone. Whether the taunting turned the Bears’ emotions is unknown, but it was after that play the Bears’ fortunes turned again to the positive side.
After a Bear possession, punter Brad Maynard pinned the Saints close to their own end zone, and Brees was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, which is a safety. After this, the Bears sailed, starting with a 33-yard Bernard Berrian touchdown pass from Grossman, then rushing touchdowns by Jones and Cedric Benson nailed the Saints’ coffin shut.
After the Bears ran out the final seconds of the clock in “victory formation,” Grossman hurled the ball into the stands, releasing pent up aggression from a season that was sometimes magical, sometimes downright awful for the quarterback. Just after time expired, silver and orange confetti was blown out of cannons on the edge of the field, then former Cowboy Tony Dorsett presented the George S. Halas NFC Championship trophy to Halas’ daughter Virginia. A party ensued in Chicago, one not seen in town since another snowy day in 1986.