With all the subplots focused on everything but the game itself, this Bears-Vikings Monday Night matchup could be remembered around these parts for a long time…especially if the Bears are able to clinch the North on the Vikings’ (backup) home field.
Here’s a look at the 5 most memorable Bears-Vikings games over the last 25 years.
5) 2006 – Good Rex leads late TD drive to catapult Super Season.
The Bears entered the 3rd game of the 2006 season undefeated. In what was a sign of things to come, Rex Grossman had an up-and-down game in the Metrodome. Through the first 3 quarters, Bad Rex struggled and tossed 2 INTs that led directly to Viking points.
But thanks to a Tommie Harris strip of current Bears running back Chester Taylor, Chicago took over in Minnesota territory with about 3 minutes left in the game. Five plays later, Rex found Rashied Davis for a 24-yard TD pass to give the Bears the lead and eventual win.
The victory helped catapult Chicago to a 13-3 season that ended in Miami in the Super Bowl.
4) 2009 – Cutler OT TD pass ruins Vikes’ hopes for homefield advantage in playoffs.
The 12-2, Brett Favre-led Vikings strolled into Soldier Field vs. the 5-9 Bears for a frigid Monday Night matchup. Jay Cutler, who up to that point in the season was a one-man interception machine (25 picks coming into the game), sparked the Bears to a 16-0 halftime lead.
But the ageless, gray-haired wonder guided the Vikings back. A short TD pass to Sidney Rice in the corner of the end zone tied the score with only seconds remaining. In OT, Hunter Hillenmeyer forced an Adrian Peterson fumble in Vikings territory.
On the following play, Cutler hit a wide-open Devin Aromashodu down the sideline for the 39-yard game-winner. Cutler finished the night with 4 TD passes. The loss dropped Minnesota behind New Orleans in the chase for home field in the NFC playoffs. And we all know how that worked out for them down in Nawlins…
3) 2007 – Two 80-yard Hester TDs not enough to save Bears from last-second loss.
In a game that featured huge plays from the teams’ most explosive weapons, Devin Hester almost had the last laugh on rookie Pro Bowler, Adrian Peterson. Early on, Hester juked 4 Vikings defenders (without the aid of any Bears blockers) and darted down the sideline for an 89-yard return that helped the Bears rally against the Vikings.
But big rushes by Peterson kept the Bears down by as many as 14 points late in the 4th quarter. With 1:38 remaining, Brian Griese found his newbie WR Hester wide open down the sideline for an 81-yard TD pass to tie the score. A 53-yard kick return by Adrian Peterson – who rushed for a Soldier Field opponent record 224 yards – on the ensuing kickoff set the Vikings up in great field position. They moved down to the Bears 37-yard line, where Ryan Longwell booted a career long 54-yard field goal to give the Vikings the win at the gun.
The electrifying big-play battle between Hester and Peterson was one for the ages…even if Viking fans remember it more fondly.
2) 1995 – Upstart Bears upset Vikes in playoff rematch.
The Vikings swept the Bears during the 1994 regular season, one via blowout and another in an OT win at the Metrodome. The underdog Bears, led by former Miami Hurricane QB Steve Walsh (who supplanted free agent pickup Erik Kramer as starter late in the season) helped navigate the Bears to a 35-18 win.
Coming out of the locker room with a 5-point halftime lead, Walsh threw a long TD to WR Jeff Graham. The Bears got a late defensive touchdown to seal the deal and hand the Warren Moon-led Vikings an abrupt first-round playoff exit.
It would be the crowning achievement of the Dave Wannstedt era.
1) 1985 – Hobbled McMahon leads Bears to comeback win.
The Bears entered this rare Thursday night matchup with a 2-0 record. With starting QB Jim McMahon nursing a sore back and neck, backup Steve Fuller started for the Bears. After spending 3 quarters harassing Mike Ditka to put him the game, the Punky QB finally got his chance with the Bears trailing 17-9.
On his first play, he launched a 70-yard TD bomb to Willie Gault. Then, on his second play from scrimmage, McMahon found Dennis McKinnon for a 25-yard TD toss that put the Bears ahead.
For good measure, McMahon threw another TD to McKinnon on his 8th play from scrimmage. Final score: Bears 33, Vikings 24. The Bears of course went on to finish a magical ’85 season 18-1 and Super Bowl XX Champs.