10 of the most memorable games in the Packers-Bears rivalry

JR Radcliffe
Packers News
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2011: Green Bay Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji returns an interception for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago.

The Packers and Bears franchises have been going head-to-head since 1921, starting with a 20-0 win by the Chicago Staleys over the Packers. There have been plenty of crazy moments in the years since.

These are some of the most memorable Packers-Bears battles – mostly memorable from Green Bay's point of view, anyway.

Jan. 23, 2011 – Green Bay 21, Chicago 14

The stakes don't get much bigger than the NFC championship game. Played at Soldier Field, the rivals met with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, and the biggest play of the game also stands as one of the 10 biggest plays in Packers history. In the fourth quarter, Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie threw an interception right into the arms of defensive lineman B.J. Raji, who returned it 17 yards for a touchdown and gave the Packers the decisive points. 

Dec. 29, 2013 – Green Bay 33, Chicago 28

The final game of the regular season was a winner-take-all battle at Soldier Field for the NFC North title and a playoff spot. Aaron Rodgers had fractured his collarbone earlier in the season against the Bears, but the Packers were able to claw their way into this position behind backup quarterback Matt Flynn despite five straight weeks without a win. Rodgers came back for the finale and tossed an unforgettable 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb with 38 seconds to go on fourth-and-8. Joe Buck’s call – “Floats it … COBB!” – was cemented into history and the Packers prevailed for a playoff berth.

Nov. 5, 1989 – Green Bay 14, Chicago 13

1989: Packers quarterback Don Majkowski (7) celebrates the instant-replay call confirming his game-winning touchdown pass to Sterling Sharpe against the Bears at Lambeau Field on Nov. 5, 1989. The Packers won, 14-13. Also celebrating are Perry Kemp (81),  Herman Fontenot (27) and Johnny Holland (50).

It's the Instant Replay Game. With under a minute to go, Don Majkowski found Sterling Sharpe for what looked like the winning touchdown on fourth-and-long, although a penalty flag ruled Majik was beyond the line of scrimmage when he threw the ball. The Packers were dejected as the Bears celebrated on the sideline. Both teams were prepared for a victory-formation snap on the field, but officials conferred and went back to look at the tape on instant replay, then decided it was a legal pass after all. Bears fans will tell you otherwise to this day.

Sept. 7, 1980 – Green Bay 12, Chicago 6 (OT)

1980: Packers kicker Chester Marcol runs for a touchdown after picking up the football on a blocked field goal against the Bears.

It's the Chester Marcol Game. The Packers' kicker converted on two field goals, but his most memorable attempt of the game was blocked. The ball deflected off the helmet of Alan Page and back to Marcol, who picked it up and ran 25 yards in overtime for the winning points.

Sept. 9, 2018 – Green Bay 24, Chicago 23

The Packers overcame a 20-0 deficit after halftime, with Aaron Rodgers returning from what looked like a surefire long-term injury to bring the Packers back from the dead on "Sunday Night Football." The dramatic night at Lambeau in the 2018 season opener was topped off by Rodgers' 75-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb with 2:13 to go. He finished with 286 yards passing and three scores in just over one half.

Oct. 31, 1994 – Green Bay 33, Chicago 6

This game on a windy, rainy Halloween night may not have been the most competitive game in the rivalry, but it certainly typified it. Playing in 36-mph winds and adorned in mud on "Monday Night Football," the Packers found their running game and won behind three rushing scores from Edgar Bennett.

Sept. 13, 2009 – Green Bay 21, Chicago 15

Yet another season opener and another thriller on "Sunday Night Football," and the Packers prevailed when Greg Jennings caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers with 1:11 to go, mere moments after Robbie Gould's field goal put the Bears up, 15-13. Jay Cutler's first pass after the ensuing kickoff was intercepted by Al Harris to seal the game.

Dec. 18, 2016 – Green Bay 30, Chicago 27

Mason Crosby hit the game-winning field goal with 3 seconds to go, but the big play was a 60-yard reception by Jordy Nelson on third-and-11 that set up the winner after Chicago had rallied from a 17-point deficit to tie the game with 1:23 to go. The Packers badly needed the win to secure the North, and they would advance all the way to the NFC championship game.

Nov. 12, 1995 – Green Bay 35, Chicago 28

Aaron Rodgers isn't the only quarterback to dazzle despite an injury in this rivalry. Brett Favre battled through a bad ankle injury to toss five touchdown passes and rack up 336 yards, and a LeRoy Butler interception in the end zone with less than 2 minutes to play helped thwart a game-tying attempt from the Bears. It was the start of a hot streak for the Packers to close the season, with six wins in seven games to claim the NFC Central title. 

Nov. 12, 1961 – Green Bay 31, Chicago 28

In a meeting between two of the greatest coaches in NFL history – Vince Lombardi and George Halas – the Packers held off hard-charging Chicago, which almost came all the way back from a 31-7 deficit behind three touchdowns from Mike Ditka. The Packers went on to win the NFL championship. 

Bonus: Nov. 7, 1999 – Chicago 14, Green Bay 13

Sure, the Bears won this one, but looking back, it was pretty magical. Bears lineman Bryan Robinson got his hand on a field-goal attempt, deflecting a Ryan Longwell chip shot from 28 yards and helping the Bears hold on in the final seconds. It was the first Bears game after the death of franchise staple Walter Payton, and Robinson said afterward that Payton lifted him up high enough to block the kick.

JR Radcliffe can be reached at (262) 361-9141 or jradcliffe@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JRRadcliffe.

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