Let’s face it. Some Bears games are tough to hype.
A mid-season contest against the Carolina Panthers? Yawn.
A trip to Detroit to see third-string quarterback Drew Stanton? Shrug.
An NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers?
Are you kidding?
The Bears and Packers boast one of the richest rivalries in any sport. Everyone from George Halas to Vince Lombardi to Walter Payton to Brett Favre has made their mark, but none of those men experienced what will take place Sunday at Soldier Field.
The winner will go on to Super Bowl XLV. The loser will go home.
And everyone in attendance might have a story to tell their children and grandchildren.
“It’s just intense,” Bears defensive end Israel Idonije said. “It’s the NFL’s longest rivalry. The history is ridiculous when you look back at some of the epic battles and the violence in the games between these two teams.
“It’s a game that you don’t need any help waking up for. It’s intense, and this Sunday is going to be one of those games.”
The Bears and Packers have created plenty of highlights in 181 meetings spanning 90 years. Here are five of the best from the Bears’ perspective.
Who knows? By Sunday evening, there might be a new No. 1.
5. Oct. 30, 1977 Walter Payton steamrolled the Packers for 205 rushing yards in a 26-0 win at Soldier Field. Payton’s mammoth single-game effort tied Gale Sayers for the franchise record, but that didn’t last for long. Payton rushed for 275 yards three weeks later against the Minnesota Vikings for a franchise record that still stands.
4. Dec. 7, 1980 The Bears crushed the Packers, 61-7, to match a team record for points and set records for first downs (33) and completion percentage (83.3 percent). Bears quarterback Vince Evans passed for 316 yards, which isn’t outrageous by today’s standards but at the time counted for the most passing yards by a Bears player in the previous 10 years.
3. Dec. 14, 1941
In 181 meetings, this marked the only playoff battle between the NFL’s oldest rivals until Sunday. The Bears won, 33-14, behind an old-school approach that was pretty young-school at the time. Bears quarterback Sid Luckman completed four of nine pass attempts, but the team rushed 48 times for 277 yards and three touchdowns.
2. Oct. 21, 1985 In a victory for big men everywhere (well, except for those in Green Bay), Bears defensive tackle William “Refrigerator” Perry became the largest player in NFL history to score a touchdown off of a designed play. Perry, who was listed at 325 pounds, rumbled into the end zone en route to a 23-7 win on a Monday night at Soldier Field. He plowed over Packers linebacker George Cumby on two other goal-line plays to set up rushing touchdowns for Payton.
1. Nov. 7, 1999 Memories of the “Walter Payton Game” still elicit goose bumps for longtime Bears employees at Halas Hall. It was the Bears’ first game after Payton’s death at age 45, and the Packers lined up for a 28-yard field goal with three seconds remaining to win the game. But Bears defensive end Bryan Robinson leaped to block the kick as time expired to secure a 14-13 win, which marked the Bears’ first victory against the Packers in almost six years.