The Bears led 10-0 with only minutes remaining...and something felt wrong.
The moment the Denver Broncos started moving the ball downfield for their first six points, I felt my chest get tight. My hands started to get clammy. Shortly, I was struggling for breath. My face was getting pale. I started getting dizzy...I knew it. It was coming.
Slowly, the Chicago Bears found multiple ways to blow a two possession lead to Denver Broncos. A cover-2 deep (very deep) coverage set with safeties setting up 35 yards off the ball with still three minutes remaining. A running back that could not get out of bounds. A coach unwilling to kneel. A running back fumbling the ball. Field goals from 80 billion yards away.
It all amounts to football hell. Football Hell is a terrible place to live, but when you're a fan of a franchise that's over 90 years old...it happens. The only question that remains is, 'where does this loss rank all-time?'
Good thing you know the idiot savant of Chicago Bears history...let's take a look.
NOTE: Keep in mind, these are measured by how the game ended AND how big the game was (Look at the end for our honorable mentions, and post in our notes if you don't find one!)
10. Minnesota Vikings 33, Chicago Bears 27 (OT), 1994
Joe Theismann called this Thursday night game the best he broadcasted in his first 10 years at ESPN. The Bears and Vikings were both 8-4 and battling for sole possession of first place in the NFC Central. This was for good reason, too. The game featured five lead changes and multiple amazing plays. The Bears fought back to tie the game late, when Kevin Butler had a chance to win the game in the Metrodome. Butler pushed his kick wide. In overtime, Warren Moon found Cris Carter, who slipped past Bears defenders and down the near sideline for a 65 yard game winner...the vision of Carter going down the sideline seemed like it happened in slow motion...much like a knife slowly going through your heart. VIDEO HERE: Carter's Catch
9. Minnesota Vikings 34, Chicago Bears 31, 2007
Coming off of a Super Bowl appearance in 2006, hopes were high for the 2007 Chicago Bears. After just a couple games, it was obvious this Bears squad wouldn't match their counterparts. This never became more evident than the Bears' meeting against the Vikings at Soldier Field. Adrian Peterson gashed the Bears for touchdown runs of 67,73, and 35. It was good for over 200 yards and what seemed like an easy Vikings victory. But the Bears and veteran quarterback Brian Griese made a quick comeback to tie the game at 31 after being down 31-17; the final touchdown coming on a bomb to Devin Hester. Now, with the game tied, the Bears kicked semi-deep instead of trying the squib...and, oddly enough...the football found Peterson. Purple Jesus returned the kick with little time left leading to a Ryan Longwell 55 yard game-winning field goal, and an improbable Vikings victory.
8. Atlanta Falcons 22, Chicago Bears 20, 2008
I'm sure many Bears fans would put this heartbreaker higher, but the fact was the Bears were outplayed for the first 58 minutes. In the waning moments, Kyle Orton put together a miraculous drive that put the Bears ahead with 11 seconds remaining. What went on afterwards with only seconds remaining haunts Bears fans to this day. Robbie Gould's attempt at a short kick went horribly wrong, giving the Falcons the ball at the 43. Ryan found Jenkins for a big gain, and Jason Elam put the dagger through the Bear as time expired. TERRIBLE VIDEO HERE
7. Los Angeles Raiders 16, Chicago Bears 14, 1993
One of my all-time faves! The Bears were left for dead. A victory would get them back to 4-4, but Harbaugh and the anemic Bears offense were worthless all game. However, the Bears did make it down in the 4th quarter close enough for Kevin Butler to attempt a 20 yard field goal...and he missed. Down 16-7, Harbaugh led the Bears to a late touchdown. Nothing much was thought of the TD...the Bears still needed the onside kick. When the Bears got the onside kick, Harbaugh ran 25 yards and was given an additional 15 on the unnecessary roughness call. With nearly one minute left, a clueless Art Shell let the Bears use the remainder of the clock. How could the Raiders coach give Butler a chance to win the game and not give his team a shot to give the ball back? Certainly, Butler couldn't miss two 20-something field goals in one quarter...could he? Down 16-14, with seconds left...Butler hooked it...again. The Bears were now 3-5, and a city was left stunned. NO VIDEO HERE TO PROTECT YOUR EYES
6. Green Bay Packers 14, Chicago Bears 13, 1989
After starting the season 4-0, the Bears lost tough games to Tampa Bay and Houston. After getting creamed in Cleveland, the Bears came back to beat a very good Rams team to move to 5-3. The surprising Packers hosted the Bears in Lambeau for a shot at the top spot in the NFC Central. The Packers hadn't finished over .500 since 1982...and they hadn't beaten the Bears since 1984. Ditka's Bears owned the Packers, and this day was no different. Don Majkowski and the Packers managed only 7 points through 59 minutes. A late game drive put the Packers deep in Bears territory, but were faced with a fourth down with only seconds remaining. While rolling to his right, Majkowski charged towards the line of scrimmage and threw a strike to Green Bay wide receiver Sterling Sharpe. While Lambeau went crazy, officials flagged Majkowski for stepping over the line of scrimmage. An instant replay was under review. In one of the most controversial reversals in NFL history, the officials upstairs sided with the Packers. The win kept the Packers in the NFC Central race...and the Bears slowly disintegrated into a 6-10 season. VIDEO HERE
5. Green Bay Packers 12, Chicago Bears 6 (OT)
Opening Day 1980 featured the longest running rivalry in NFL history...and the game nearly set football back a good 60 years! The Bears and Packers were engulfed in a rock fight at 6-6 when the Packers put together a late game drive. Packers kicker Chester Marcol had a chip shot to win the game for the Packers. Alan Paige of the Bears broke through the line and blocked the coke-bottled glasses-wearing Marcol's kick...in one of the strangest bounces in NFL history; the ball went straight into the hands of the Packers kicker...who waddled as if he had a bucket on his shoe into the Bears end zone for a stunning 12-6 victory. The Bears would exact revenge later in the year by pounding Green Bay in Chicago, 61-7. CLOSEST FOOTAGE COMES AT 1:55 OF VIDEO
4. Denver Broncos 13, Chicago Bears (OT), 2011
You just saw this game. I don't need to talk about it again...unless you want to take a hammer to my nuts one more time.
3. Washington Redskins 21, Chicago Bears 17 1987 NFC Divisional Playoff
While this wasn't a loss in the final minutes, the Bears blew a 14-0 lead at home to the Redskins. The killer came when Darrell Green leaped over Cap Boso for a 52 yard punt return for a touchdown that ended the Bears season and Walter Payton's career. VIDEO OF THE HATED SKINS PUNT RETURN
2. New York Giants 30, Chicago Bears 13, 1934 NFL Championship Game (The Sneakers Game)
I can hear you. The Sneakers Game?! Here me out: The Bears were undefeated. The defending NFL champs had beaten the Giants in the title game the year before. The two teams met in the icy Polo Grounds. The Bears ran over the Giants in the first half 13-3. The Giants offense was incapable of stopping Nagurski or running any semblance of an offense. During the first half, a Giants trainer ran through the city to find sneakers for the Giants to play with on the icy field. The trainer broke into the Manhattan College gymnasium (because back in the day all sporting goods stores were closed on Sundays), grabbed the shoes, ran back to the Polo Grounds, and the players put the shoes on while getting ready for the second half. The Giants then pulverized the Bears for 27 unanswered points while the Chicagoans slipped all over the field. Imagine if this happened today? Chicago would go on suicide watch. ESPN would have a three hour special on the game. Pedro Gomez would be set outside of Lovie Smith's house. People would call it the most amazing event in modern football history...but since it happened prior to the merger, nobody cares about it. Well, if this happened to the Bears today in the Super Bowl...well...you'd probably jump off a building...just sayin'.
1. Chicago Cardinals 24, Chicago Bears 21, 1948
It's tough to imagine two football teams playing in Chicago. Prior to 1960, it was the norm. The Cardinals and Bears played each other for 40 years, but nothing matched the impact of the 1948 regular season finale. The Bears dominated the town in popularity. They had put together seven championship teams, featured the greatest players of all-time, and were on the front lines of the newspapers. The Cardinals were relegated as a South Side sideshow act...but in the post-war NFL, that began to change. After the Bears title in '46, the Cards stormed to the title in '47. In the final game of the year, the winner of the Bears/Cards match would play Philadelphia for the title. The Cards won 30-21 behind six Bears turnovers. The victory gave the Cards the division, and a week later, the NFL Championship. In 1948, the two teams went to the wire again...and once again, the two teams met in the regular season finale to see who would advance to face Philly in the NFL Title Game. Up 21-10 in the final quarter, the Bears gave up a 5 yard touchdown to Charlie Trippie of the Cardinals' famed 'Dream Backfield'. With the score 21-17, and the clock running out, the Bears turned the ball over to their cross-town rivals. In the final seconds, the Bears championship season ended on a heartbreaking 7 yard touchdown run by Elmer Angsman. The Cardinals advanced with a stunning 24-21 victory at Wrigley Field. Imagine...What if the Cubs and Sox were in the same league and your team blew a big lead in the 7th game of the LCS? What would you do? This was the biggest game, the biggest blowup, and the most depressing loss in Bears history...and arguably one of the best in Cards history to this day.
Tons were nominated to this list...here they are with brief explanations...
Half of the 2002 season: The Bears lose in overtime to Buffalo, the Bears lose in overtime to Detroit, the Bears blow a 27-6 lead against the Patriots...a game that featured a blown loss of downs call by the officials. Worst of all? The Bears blowing a 20-0 lead to the Saints. Up 20-7, Leon Johnson let a kickoff bounce off his helmet and into the hands of the Saints...disaster ensued.
Minnesota Vikings 21, Chicago Bears 20, 1992. This marked the beginning of the end of the Mike Ditka era in Chicago. Up 20-0, Jim Harbaugh threw an ill-advised pass into the flat that was picked off and returned for a touchdown by Bo Scott...the Vikes rallied and won the game.
Minnesota Vikings 27, Chicago Bears 24, 1999. Chris Boniol missed a late potential game-winning field goal that erased an amazing 416 yard passing effort by Jim Miller. Instead of moving to 5-5, the Bears were 4-6...and slowly descending.
New Orleans Saints 20, Chicago Bears 17 1997. Heath Shuler was one of the worst quarterbacks in Saints history. He didn't fare much better against the hapless Bears who were 0-5. Shuler was 8 for 22 for 106 yards and one INT...That was until his 89 yard touchdown pass to Randal Hill in the final minute...how do four defensive backs let a man behind them for an 89 yard touchdown? Meet your 1997 Chicago Bears.
Minnesota Vikings 37, Chicago Bears 13, 1961 This was the first game in Minnesota Vikings history. Expansion teams back then were given stiffs to play with...well...unfortunately for these Bears, these stiffs beat the hell out of them.
Tampa Bay Buccanneers 32, Chicago Bears 31, 1989. Mike Tomczak led an amazing fourth quarter comeback to seemingly move the Bears to 7-4...but the hapless Bears defense disintegrated in the final moments leading to a game winning field goal by Donald Igwebuike.
Pittsburgh Steelers 37, Chicago Bears 34, (OT) 1995. See: Curtis Conway dropping passes.
Detroit Lions 19, Chicago Bears 13, 2004. Instant replay showed clearly that Bernard Berrian had won the game with a touchdown reception...the refs disagreed...they were wrong.