Best moments in Chicago Bears history

Kevin Kaduk
Yahoo Sports
Walter Payton (L) celebrates becoming the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, surpassing Jim Brown, in 1984.(AP)
Walter Payton (L) celebrates becoming the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, surpassing Jim Brown, in 1984.(AP)

What are the best moments for each NFL franchise? Yahoo Sports provides our opinion, which you are free to disagree with (and we’re sure you will).

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5. Gale Sayers scores six touchdowns

You can’t put together a highlight reel of NFL history without including a few clips from the San Francisco 49ers vs. Chicago Bears game on Dec. 12, 1965. That was the day Gale Sayers, a rookie out of Kansas, tied an NFL record by scoring six touchdowns in a 61-20 victory. What’s even more impressive is that Sayers did it after bad weather had left Wrigley Field a mess of mud. The future Hall of Famer could not be stopped as he rushed for four touchdowns and caught a pass for another. He’d save his best for last, though, returning a punt 85 yards in a highlight that many older Bears fans remember as if it happened yesterday. Injuries would cut Sayers’ career short and many still believe he would’ve been considered the best running back of all time had he stayed healthy. This game went a long way to making him one of the sport’s greatest “what-if?” stories.

4. Bears’ defense intercepts Y.A. Tittle five times to win 1963 title

Today’s Bears fans could endure a 17-year title drought in their sleep, but the memory of the ‘40s-era “Monsters of the Midway” was starting to fade when the 1963 Bears reached the NFL title game against the New York Giants. That Bears team featured a young tight end by the name of Mike Ditka, but it was known more for its suffocating defense led by coordinator George Allen. On a freezing cold day, the Bears defense forced five interceptions from NFL legend Y.A. Tittle including one in the end zone with 10 seconds left, sealing George Halas’ sixth and final title. With the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs maintaining a championship-free existence for most of the 20th century, this title remained the dominant sports triumph for a generation of Chicago sports fans until the 1985 team came along.

3. Walter Payton breaks Jim Brown’s rushing record

There really was only one bright spot for the Bears between the 1963 and ‘85 title teams and his name was Walter Payton. Known for his relentless running style, Payton’s effort was often the only reason to watch the team in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. He ran, dashed and bruised his way to yard after yard until he finally approached the sport’s most hallowed record: the 12,312 career rushing yards compiled by Jim Brown. Payton finally eclipsed the mark in an October 1984 game against the New Orleans Saints, taking a “Toss 28” from Jim McMahon for a six-yard gain. The game at Chicago’s Soldier Field was immediately stopped to mark the achievement and Payton later took a congratulatory phone call from President Ronald Reagan. It was also Payton’s 59th game of 100 or more yards, breaking Brown’s previous record of 58. Though Emmitt Smith would later eclipse Payton’s final mark of 16,726 yards, Payton’s record-breaking run remains the best-known moment for the franchise’s best-known player.

2. Bears beat Redskins 73-0 for 1940 NFL championship

Even in today’s age of supersized offense and rules that put defenders at a disadvantage, it’s hard to believe any team could score 73 points in a single game. It’s even harder to believe a team could do that while pitching a shutout in the league’s championship game while on the road. Yet all of that is exactly what the 1940 Bears did, as it recorded a rout so monumental that it remains the biggest blowout in league history – playoffs or otherwise – for eight decades and counting. As the story goes, Washington coach George Marshall called the Bears a bunch of “crybabies” following the team’s regular-season meeting, a Redskins’ victory. Halas used those remarks as motivational material, making sure each player got a copy of the local sports section when they checked into their D.C. hotel rooms prior to the championship game. As legend has it, the Bears responded by scoring so much that they began to run low on footballs since fans were allowed to keep extra points after they were kicked into the stands. Officials asked Halas to start going for two for the last of the Bears’ 11 touchdowns rather than risk losing another football. The title would spur the Bears onto their best decade in franchise history, winning titles in 1940, ‘41, ‘43 and ‘46.

1. Bears record Super Bowl Shuffle, back it up by winning Super Bowl XX

What else could it be? Only hours after losing to Miami on “Monday Night Football” (their only loss of the season), 10 Bears gathered in a small Chicago concert venue to declare in the form of a rap song that it was Super Bowl or bust. Yes, the lyrics were cheesy and the dancing was awful but that collection of players remains one of the most memorable squads in sports history because it backed up the song with one of the most dominant seasons of all time. The ‘85 Bears went 15-1 during the regular season, recorded back-to-back shutouts against the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams and then trounced the New England Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl XX. More than three decades later, it remains the only Super Bowl title in franchise history and its coaches and players are still some of the biggest celebrities in the city.

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