Oct 15, 2021

Ranking the best Bears wins in the Favre-Rodgers era

Aaron Rodgers Khalil Mack Chicago Bears Green Bay Packers Week 5
(USA Today Sports)

Good morning, frents!

It's Packers week, which means we're again thinking of a life where we don't have to run down all the Bears quarterbacks who have started while the Packers have had two. I've long thought it'd be kind of fun to have all those QBs arrive at one of the rivalry games in the same school bus to help reverse the curse.

But let's say we did that: Who's driving?

Reminder: We'll be out at Nisei Lounge in Wrigleyville for Sunday's Bears-Packers game at noon (and the end of Game 4 of the WNBA Finals after.) Come join us!

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Strolling down memory lane

Look, I've been a Bears fan for almost 40 years now and 3/4ths of that time has been marked by the Packers absolutely dominating the beloved. The prime of my football-watching career started with the Bears holding a 23-game edge in the all-time series. They now trail by six heading into Sunday's game at Soldier Field.

The 10 years before my fandom really started? I was too young to appreciate the rivalry. The Packers of my childhood were nothing more to me than a pair of free throws on the schedule, no different than Detroit or Tampa Bay. Lawrence Taylor and Joe Montana were my foils. Charles Martin's villainy didn't register as much as it should have. Young Packers fans today must wonder what the big deal over the Bears is about. That was me with Green Bay just over 30 years ago.

The Don Majkowski instant replay game is the first time I can really remember disliking the Packers and it was too late by the time the sight of green and gold really made my blood boil. Green Bay was on its way to 30 years of uninterrupted Hall of Fame quarterback play (which has thankfully produced only two Super Bowl titles). The McCaskeys, meanwhile, were dragging us into a generation-spanning period of mismanagement that still tests our loyalties.

Which brings us to Sunday's game.

If Justin Fields can somehow engineer an upset over Aaron Rodgers, it'd be a sign that maybe the field is starting to flip. And if it did happen, it'd probably immediately take a top spot in memories of the rivalry.

Not that it has much competition: Here are my personal five favorite Bears victories from Favre-Rodgers era — a group of achievements that remain as noticeable as a fresh brat on a pile of old tailgate wieners.

5. Cade McNown's best game as a Bear

Bears 27, Packers 24 (Oct. 1, 2000)
Cade McNown! I told you it was slim pickings. This was actually my first-ever trip to Lambeau and I drove up expecting a loss. The Bears were 0-4 and it was already apparent in his second season that McNown was a bust. Yet somehow he connected with Marcus Robinson on touchdown passes of 68 and 58 yards in between being sacked five times.  His QB rating of 123.5 was the highest of his career and the Bears held off a late charge from Brett Favre to send me home with a surprise win. There's nothing like a Bears victory at Lambeau.

4. The shutout in the 2006 season opener

Bears 26, Packers 0 (Sept. 10, 2006)
We wanted confirmation that the 2005 division title was the building block to something more and Rex Grossman piqued our interests early with a 49-yard touchdown pass to Bernard Berrian. The defense was on point, too, forcing three turnovers and recording the only shutout for either team in the series over the last 30 years. It feels like I'm missing one other thing ... Oh yes, a young rookie wearing No. 23  took back a punt 84 yards for a touchdown — the first of 20 such trips over his soon-to-be Hall of Fame career.

3. Clinching the 2018 NFC North title

Bears 24, Packers 17 (Dec. 16, 2018)
Had the Bears actually finished off the first-half mauling in the 2018 season opener it might've been at the top of this list. We'll instead have to settle for this Week 15 win, which at the time seemed like a changing of the guard. (We were, uh, wrong.) Soldier Field rocked all day long as Mitch Trubisky got his lone win against the Packers, outplaying Aaron Rodgers with a performance of 20-of-29 for 235 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Cody Parkey also made all four of his kicks, Eddie Jackson ended Rodgers' streak of 402 straight passes without an interception and Jimmy Graham was wasting some other team's money. All was right with the world.

2. Spoiling Favre's special night

Bears 17, Packers 13 (Nov. 26, 2015)
This was a sloppy game from both sides and nothing to really write home about. Except for the fact that it was Favre's homecoming at Lambeau and the Bears were able to play spoiler. A small bit of payback for Favre ruining Dick Butkus' and Gale Sayers' number retirement during the monsoon on Halloween Night, 1994.

1. The Bryan Robinson 'Walter Payton' game

Bears 14, Packers 13 (Nov. 7, 1999)
My favorite Bears memory, period? It might be. Bears fans were still reeling from the death of Sweetness six days earlier when Robinson came out of nowhere to block Ryan Longwell's field goal attempt. It's hard to explain just how big this win was to anyone not old enough to experience it. But between the grief over losing Payton and the victory snapping a 10-game losing streak to Favre and the Packers, it was the most emotional regular-season win in Bears history.  

News and results

Bears: Damien Williams placed on the COVID list

Remember when the Bears signed Williams this offseason as insurance against last year's depth disaster at running back? Yeah, about that. The Packers and fantasy owners who stashed Khalil Herbert are the only people this news benefits.

Sox: Tony La Russa to return in 2022

Not sure if this qualifies as a headline or if it was considered a given, but here you have it from an ESPN report. Tim Anderson said nice things about his skipper in an exit interview on Thursday. "I definitely want him in," the shortstop said. "I think he did a great job with the way he managed and just being open."

Bulls: No Zion for Pelicans at home opener

The ongoing foot issues with the New Orleans star will keep him off the floor at the United Center next Friday. The Bulls season opens in Detroit two nights earlier.

Saturday's college games

Rutgers (-2) at Northwestern (11 am, BTN): How poorly is the Wildcats' season going? Rutgers — yes, Rutgers! — is favored on the road in Evanston on Saturday.

Bowling Green at Northern Illinois (2:30, ESPN+): The Huskies have the 17th-best rushing offense in the nation at 224.5 yard per game.

Illinois and Notre Dame on BYE

1. Diana Taurasi was fined $2,500 for inappropriate contact with a referee during Game 2. NY Daily News

2. Gabriel Landeskog got a two-game suspension for his hit on Kirby Dach Wednesay night. SportsNet

3. Justin Fields didn't like a reporter comparing the Bears to Michigan in the OSU-Michigan rivalry. BearsWire

4. At least one Northwestern student wants a free ticket to the game against Purdue at Wrigley next month. Inside NU

5. The Art Institute lions are sporting Sky jerseys. NBC Chicago

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