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Wild swings and championship rings: the complete history of the Bears-Packers rivalry

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The Bears and Packers have been battling since 1921, when the Chicago Staleys beat the Green Bay Packers 20-0 at Cubs Park. WCG historian Jack M Silverstein looks back at the stars, highlights and power swings in the greatest rivalry in sports.

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Bears V Packers

AUTHOR’S NOTE, Oct. 15, 2021: The original version of this story was published Sep. 28, 2017, before the first Bears-Packers game of that season. It has been updated to include the 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons. Bear Down!

Justin Fields, your table is ready.

And you’ve got your work cut out for you.

Let me explain.

With three minutes remaining in their first battle of the season with the defending champs, victory seemed secure for the Green Bay Packers.

The day was Sept. 24, 1933, and the Packers led the defending champion Chicago Bears 7-0 when Bears star and future Hall of Famer Bill Hewitt struck with one of the most magnificent sequences to close a game in franchise history.

First, he took a handoff on an end-around, slowed down, and heaved a touchdown pass 46 yards to Luke Johnsos. The Bears converted the extra point and tied the game at 7.

Green Bay then drove to the Chicago 30, and after their advancement was stuffed three times, they set up for the go-ahead field goal with less than a minute to go.

That’s when Hewitt struck again.

As reported by the Chicago Daily Tribune:

Once again Hewitt flashed in front left end and this time the ball bounced laterally from Bill’s chest. Hewitt followed its bounding course, picked it up in front of a teammate who watched to protect him from any opponent, and finished his sprint behind the goal line.

With less than a minute remaining, the Packers got the ball back, “but their long pass, the final play of the game, was batted down.” The Bears won the game, 14-7. The Tribune wrote about the majesty of Hewitt. It wrote about the implications the win might have for the NFL’s Western division race.

It also made mention of the impact the game had on the all-time series:

The Bears’ victory this afternoon was the 11th in the series in 27 games. The Packers have won 12 times and four have ended in ties.

However, one of those Packers wins was a 1924 preseason game, so the Bears win actually tied the all-time series 11-11-4. We beat the Packers twice more that season, meaning the field goal attempt that Hewitt blocked ended Green Bay’s brief run as the series’ all-time leader in wins.

For 84 seasons, from 1933 to 2016, the Bears led the series, sometimes by as much as 24 games, sometimes only by one. In 2016, Green Bay swept both games to tie the series at 94-94-6, while its sweep in 2017 gave them a two-game lead.

The second of those two losses launched the newest era in the rivalry, when Mitch Trubisky started his first game of the series. The Packers made short work of the Trubisky era, winning seven of eight games. Our only win was the thrilling division clinching victory in 2018, capped off by Leonard Floyd’s rag doll sack on Aaron Rodgers.

I truly thought that signified our disposal of Rodgers once and for all. It was but a mere blip. We now trail the series by six games, the largest lead Green Bay has ever held in the rivalry.

The Bears need much more than a Bill Hewitt blocked field goal and touchdown and Leonard Floyd toss-sack to retake the lead. Our hope, and our dreams, are with Justin Fields, who makes his first start in the series on Sunday.

In the meantime, let’s take a look back at how momentum has swung in the greatest rivalry in sports.

1921-1927: The dawn of the rivalry

  • Dominant team: Bears, 7-1-2
  • All-time series: Bears, 7-1-2
  • Streak: Bears win the first three games of the series
  • Biggest win: 21-0 Bears, Nov. 22, 1925
  • Championship count in the era: Bears 1 (1921), Packers 0
  • Championship count overall: Bears 1, Packers 0

The first game of the series didn’t even technically include the Bears. The Chicago Staleys, as they were known in 1921, beat the Packers 20-0 at Cubs Park to launch the historic series. The Staleys were 6-1, coming off a 7-6 loss to the Buffalo All-Americans in what would be their only loss of the season.

Three men scored for the Bears: Pete Stinchomb scored in the 2nd quarter on a 45-yard run, Pard Pearce ran in what seems from the reporting to have been a QB sneak, and head coach, two-way star and NFL founder George Halas caught a 10-yard touchdown from Chic Harley.

The Tribune’s headline that day, buried toward the bottom of an inside page, read: “Staleys Whale Green Bay Packers for 20 to 0 Victory.”

The Staleys became the Bears in 1922, which was one of only two seasons since 1921 in which the two teams did not play — the other was the strike-shortened season of 1982. The Bears opened the series with three straight wins, lost 14-10 in 1925, and then traded off wins and ties through the end of the 1927 season.

In that game, Paddy Driscoll threw for two touchdown passes. In a 19-13 win the year before, Driscoll converted two field goals and scored a touchdown on a 24-yard fumble return.

1928-1932: Lambeau’s revenge

  • Dominant team: Packers, 10-2-2
  • All-time series: Packers, 11-9-4
  • Streak: Packers win 7 straight, and hold Bears scoreless for 5 straight games
  • Biggest win: 25-0 Packers, Dec. 8, 1929
  • Championship count in the era: Packers 3 (1929, 1930, 1931), Bears 0
  • Championship count overall: Packers 3, Bears 1

Until the 1980s, the longest stretch of dominance in the series was Green Bay’s seven-game winning streak from Oct. 21, 1928 to Nov. 9, 1930. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Packers and coach Curly Lambeau became the NFL’s dominant team, winning three straight championships and gaining control of the rivalry’s lead.

The stars for these Packers? Back Verne Lewellen, an All Pro from 1926 to 1929, and left end (and future U.S. congressman) Lavvie Dilweg, an All Pro from 1927 to 1931.

The final game of this run was Oct. 16, 1932, with the 3-0-1 Packers traveling to Wrigley Field to face the undefeated (ha) 0-0-3 Bears. The Packers won 2-0, with the game’s only points coming in the 2nd quarter when end Tom Nash blocked a Chicago punt. The ball bounced out of the back of the endzone for a safety.

The headline in the Chicago Daily Tribune read “Packers Whip Bears, 2-0,” with reporter Wilfrid Smith writing:

The 60 minute battle was one of the old fashioned brawls for which the Packers and the Bears are famous.

See that? The NFL was 12 years old and already Bears vs. Packers was “old fashioned.” I love it.

The two teams met again in the last regular season game of the year, with Green Bay 10-2-1, the Bears 5-1-6, and a shot at the NFL championship — determined by winning percentage — on the line.

1932-1934: Bronko, Beattie, and Red

  • Dominant team: Bears, 6-0
  • All-time series: Bears, 15-11-4
  • Streak: Bears win six straight games from the Snow Game in 1932 through the middle of their undefeated (until the end) 1934
  • Biggest win: 24-10 Bears, Sep. 23, 1934
  • Championship count in the era: Bears 2 (1932, 1933), Packers 0
  • Championship count overall: TIED, 3-3

The great snow game of 1932 was also a great upset for the host Bears. The Packers were the three-time defending champs and had lost to the Bears only twice since 1927. The two teams played to a scoreless tie in September, and the Packers knocked off the Bears 2-0 a month later.

When they arrived at Wrigley Field, they were 10-2-1 and in the hunt for their fourth straight NFL championship. When they left, they were 9-0 losers who’d played their last game of the season, as the victorious Bears beat the Portsmouth Spartans (later the Detroit Lions) a week later to claim the 1932 title.

This 2013 story from Josh Katzowitz tells much of the tale. The Daily Tribune did too the day after the game:

Snow fell throughout the afternoon, but the crowd of 5,000 was as impervious to the cold and snow as were the players, many of whom did not wear head guards or stockings.

The Bears were led during their six-game winning streak by three rushers:

  • Fullback Bronko Nagurski was All Pro in 1932, 1933, and 1934
  • Red Grange, in his second stint with the team after his time as the founder of the American Football League and the New York Yankees football club, was no longer a great talent but still a star
  • As a rookie in 1934, Beattie Feathers led the NFL in rushing and made the All Pro team. His 1,004 yards rushing set a Bears rookie rushing record that would stand until Rashaan Salaam broke it in 1995.

In the 1934 championship game, the 13-0 Bears lost their shot for a perfect season, losing 30-13 to the Giants.

1935-1939: Two more Packers titles

  • Dominant team: Packers, 6-3
  • All-time series: Bears, 18-17-4
  • Streak: Packers win two in a row twice, in a fairly even stretch
  • Biggest win: 30-3 Bears, Sep. 20, 1936
  • Championship count in the era: Packers 2 (1936, 1939), Bears 0
  • Championship count overall: Packers 5, Bears 3

This was a tight era, with no team winning more than two consecutive games. But the Packers won six of nine, and also nabbed league titles in 1936 and 1939.

However, the ‘39 season was a big one for Chicago. Coach George Halas had seen a star single-wing tailback at Columbia University and grew convinced that this player could lead the Bears attack. He signed him to a contract, and debuted him in 1939. The player helped lead the Bears to a 30-27 win over the Packers on Nov. 5, 1939.

His name?

Sid Luckman

1940-1950: The decade of Sid

  • Dominant team: Bears, 17-5-1
  • All-time series: Bears, 36-22-5
  • Streak: Bears win five straight from 1947 to 1949
  • Biggest win: 33-14 Bears in the 1941 NFL playoffs
  • Championship count in the era: Bears 4 (1940, 1941, 1943, 1946), Packers 1 (1944)
  • Championship count overall: Bears 7, Packers 6

For the Bears, the 1940s were what modern fans think the 1980s should have been. Led by All Pro quarterback (and punter) Sid Luckman, the Bears won four championships in the 1940s, including the biggest win in NFL history: 73-0 over Washington for the 1940 championship.

But not even a 73-point victory was bigger than what happened one year later.

For the first time in their history and the only time until the 2010 season, the Bears and Packers met in the playoffs. The 10-1 Bears hosted the 10-1 Packers, whipping their guests 33-14 to win the Western Division championship.

From the Daily Tribune:

Next Sunday, on this same field, the New York Giants, eastern champions, will come out to form the opposition for the Bears in their 19th game of the season, including exhibitions. It will be for the title, but to all intents and purposes the 1941 National league crown was settled yesterday.

In all, Luckman went 18-6-1 against the Packers. He also led the Bears revolutionary t-formation offense, and landed in the Hall of Fame in 1965.

1951-1960: The Bears still rock

  • Dominant team: Bears, 14-4-1
  • All-time series: Bears, 50-26-6
  • Streak: Bears win four straight from 1950 to 1952, and run off a pair of three-game streaks in the mid- and late-1950s
  • Biggest win: 52-31 Bears, Nov. 6 (my birthday!), 1955 (Back to the Future!)
  • Championship count in the era: None
  • Championship count overall: Bears 7, Packers 6

The 1950s is one of the rare decades where neither the Bears nor the Packers won a championship. But the Bears played for one, losing in 1956 to the Giants in one of the biggest beatdowns in title game history, 47-7. Forty points would be the 2nd largest defeat in Super Bowl history.

So that was bad.

But while the Bears “slogged” through the 1950s with four 8-4 finishes plus the 1950 divisional loss to the Rams and the 1956 championship loss, the Packers were downright bad. After Curly Lambeau’s final season of 1949, the Packers employed primarily two coaches: Gene Ronzani and Lisle Blackbourn.

The low point for the Packers was 1958. Former Bears great Ray “Scooter” McLean coached the Packers to a 1-10-1 record. Something had to change. It did. (More on that in a moment.)

The high point for the Bears in the series came Sept. 25, 1960, when we went into New City and came out with a 17-14 win. This gave us a 50-26-6 all-time series lead, one of two times that we’ve led the series by 24 games, tops for either side.

1960-1967: The legend of Lombardi

  • Dominant team: Packers, 12-3
  • All-time series: Bears, 53-38-6
  • Streak: The Packers started this run with five straight wins (starting with the 2nd game of 1960) and ended it with four straight
  • Biggest win: 49-0 Packers, Sept. 30, 1962, in a season that ESPN’s Kevin Seifert dubbed the “best ever” for Green Bay
  • Championship count in the era: Packers 5 (1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967), Bears 1 (1963)
  • Championship count overall: Packers 11, Bears 8

One of my favorite aspects of this rivalry is that at its peak, the better team didn’t just own the other.

It owned the league.

Like the Bears of the 1940s, the Packers of the 1960s ruled the NFL. Everything started Jan. 28, 1959, when the moribund Packers — coming off that 1-10-1 record, still the worst in franchise history — hired 45-year-old Giants offensive coordinator Vince Lombardi.

“My word will be final,” Lombardi said upon his hiring, as reported by the Milwaukee Journal’s Chuck Johnson. “I’ve never been connected with a losing team and I hope to instill a winning spirit in the Packers in a lot less than five years.”

After one year, the Packers were 7-5. After two, they were 8-4, losing the NFL championship game 17-13 to the Eagles, who scored the winning touchdown with just over five minutes remaining.

That was the first and only postseason loss the Packers suffered under Lombardi. When Lombardi’s tenure ended in 1967, the Bears still held a 15-game lead in the all-time series, but the Best Team mantle had slipped away in one irrevocable way: Green Bay’s five championships gave them the all-time lead in that category, one they haven’t relinquished since.

Like the 1940s, though, the rivalry’s “lesser” team in the 1960s won a championship. That was the 1963 Bears, who swept Green Bay that season with victories of 10-3 and 26-7, finishing the regular season 11-1-2 and beating the Giants 14-10 for the NFL championship. So by no means were the 1960s a lost decade for our beloved Bears.

But the Bears had not stopped Green Bay’s dominance — merely set it back a season. In Sports Illustrated’s 1964 pro football preview issue, in an article called “Some Bad News for the Bears,” the magazine was already spelling doom for the defending champions, in a manner Bears fans would come to recognize.

The article opened:

The Chicago Bears had the best defense in pro football in 1963. They did not have much else, but, as things turned out, the best defense brought them the NFL championship. There were a few innovations in that defense — at least in execution — which puzzled the other teams long enough to enable the Bears, with perhaps the most pedestrian offense in championship history, to go all the way.

The 1964 Bear offense will not shake the football world. Billy Wade still directs it with the gambling instinct of your maiden aunt Sophronia at the Wednesday Afternoon Bridge Club. Unless Coach George Halas revamps the plan of attack to include at least the threat of an occasional long pass, the rest of the West will tighten up its pass coverage and cut off the short passes.

In its summation of the team’s chances in 1964, the author wrote:

The Bear defense, more familiar now to the rest of the league, cannot hope to do as well as it did last year. The weak offense is no stronger. Other western teams have improved, and what was good enough for first in 1963 should suffice for fourth in 1964.

The Packers, meanwhile, were described thusly:

If the Packers want it badly enough, the championship is theirs, for this is an almost flawless team, with all the weapons of attack any pro club ever had and a seasoned, smart defense.

Neither the Bears nor the Packers won the 1964 title — that belonged to the Cleveland Browns (in the city’s final championship until the Cavaliers two years ago). The Bears were strong in 1965, winning nine games against five losses. The Packers were stronger. They went 10-3-1 (with one loss to the Bears), and defeated the Baltimore Colts 13-10 in overtime for the NFL championship.

The Packers won two more NFL championships under Lombardi, in 1966 and 1967, defeating the Dallas Cowboys in both games. Unlike in past seasons, however, the week after those games included another game: the NFL-AFL Championship Game, later known as “The Super Bowl.”

The Packers won both of those two, giving them a 2-0 edge in the rivalry in Super Bowl championships.

1968-1974: Jim Dooley and Abe Gibron

  • Dominant team: Packers, 10-4
  • All-time series: Bears, 57-48-6
  • Streak: The Packers had a pair of four-game winning streaks, as the Bears bungled through arguably the lowest stretch in franchise history
  • Biggest win: 21-0 Packers, Dec. 16, 1973
  • Championship count in the era: None
  • Championship count overall: Packers 11, Bears 8

Oooooooh boy.

When the Bears limped to a 3-13 record in 2016, historians had to frame it as “the worst record in Bears history in a 16-game season.”

That’s because the worst season in Bears history was 1969, when we finished 1-13.

Our lone win in 1969 was against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which forced us into a coin flip with the Steelers for the number one draft pick, which we lost, which left the Steelers with Terry Bradshaw and the Bears with a pick we traded to... the Packers.

Coach Jim Dooley oversaw that nightmare season, his second with the team, and when his tenure came to a close with consecutive 6-8 seasons ending in 1971, the team hired Abe Gibron to replace him.

I wasn’t around for Gibron, but I’ll just say this about Gibron: whenever I started complaining in the 1990s about Dave Wannstedt, or later about Dick Jauron, or ESPECIALLY about Marc Trestman — or hell, even now about John Fox — some Bears fan at least 10 years older than me would pop out of somewhere and declare, “YEAH, BUT YOU WEREN’T HERE FOR ABE GIBRON.”

Even the name itself connotes the Bizarro Bears — “Abe Gibron” sounds like a Chicago Bears coach, with those unforgiving ‘b’s’ sandwiching that hard ‘g’ and the opening and closing vowel sounds that can be so deliciously spit in Chicagoese.

Yet of course I say “Bizarro Bears” because Gibron’s time in Chicago was the opposite of what we Bears fans like to think about when we think about our Bears. The team went 11-20-1 under Gibron, though they did manage to squeeze out two wins against the Packers.

1975-1980: The legend of Sweetness

  • Dominant team: Bears, 9-3
  • All-time series: Bears, 66-51-6
  • Streak: The Bears won four straight, sweeping Green Bay in 1976 and 1977
  • Biggest win: How about the biggest margin of victory in the rivalry’s history? Bears 61, Packers 7, Dec. 7, 1980
  • Championship count in the era: None
  • Championship count overall: Packers 11, Bears 8

We got Walter!

In 1975, the Bears drafted Walter Payton fourth overall, a man who would become one of the few who can tussle for the claim as The Greatest Player in NFL History. If there is one thing that Bears fans can cling to as a counter to Green Bay’s seemingly ever-growing lead in championships, it’s that they lack any such definitive, transcendent superstar on the level of Payton.

This era of the rivalry ended in 1980, with the biggest beatdown of the series: Bears 61, Packers 7. Neither team went to the playoffs, so this game was the final hammer blow for bragging rights. Payton ran for 130 yards and three touchdowns, while Bears quarterback Vince Evans threw for 316 and three scores on a sizzling 18 of 22 passes.

The Tribune’s headline was a drag for sure — “Joy missing after Bears humiliate dazed Packers” — but as the years have gone on, I never hear any Bears fan talk about what a bummer it was to miss the playoffs in 1980.

I hear them talk about grinding those Packers punks into the turf for a score they’ll never forget.

1981: Packers sweep

  • Dominant team: Packers, 2-0
  • All-time series: Bears, 66-53-6
  • Streak: The Packers swept 1981
  • Biggest win: N/A. They won one game by seven points and the other by four. So I guess the seven-point win.
  • Championship count in the era: None
  • Championship count overall: Packers 11, Bears 8

I’m putting 1981 by itself. Why? Because 1980 was the end of a run by the Bears, but we have to put the Ditka era as its own, and that started in 1982.

However, because of the strike season in 1982, the Bears and Packers didn’t play that season — the 2nd and final missed season of the rivalry, after 1922.

So this is just going to sit here on its own.

1983-1992: DIIIIIITKAAAAAAA!

  • Dominant team: Bears, 15-4
  • All-time series: Bears, 81-57-6
  • Streak: The Bears won eight straight from 1985 to 1988, the biggest run of the series at that time
  • Biggest win: By points, the biggest win was what I am calling the final of this stretch — the 30-10 Bears win for the first of the teams’ two games in 1992.
  • Championship count in the era: Bears 1 (1985), Packers 0
  • Championship count overall: Packers 11, Bears 9

Man, Bears fans — we know what this is about. The Bears under Ditka only won one championship, but they were in contention for several others. More importantly, we beat Green Bay’s ass.

After letting our lead in the all-time series scoot all the way down to nine in 1973 and 1975, our Payton/Hampton/Singletary/Ditka era pushed it all the way back out to 24, tying our series win-differential record from 1960.

The Bears were so good during this run that Green Bay couldn’t break our eight-game winning streak until they got bailed out in 1989 in the infamous “Instant Replay Game.” Those SOBs!

(Okay, okay fine — Majkowski was behind the line. THAT’S ENOUGH ABOUT THAT.)

The Bears sideline awaits the awful news: touchdown Packers.

The Bears had a bad 1989, but rebounded in 1990 with another division championship and a Wild Card in 1991, plus a 20-point butt-whupping of Green Bay in 1992. The Packers had a young quarterback that day, making his fourth ever NFL start, some guy who probably did nothing ever again. Right?

Aaaaaaand... that brings us to the end of Bears dominance. It’s (mostly) all downhill from here.

1992-2003: Brett F****** Favre

  • Dominant team: Packers, 20-3
  • All-time series: Bears, 84-77-6
  • Streak: The biggest run in the series — 10 straight wins, as the Packers swept the season series every year from 1994 to 1998
  • Biggest win: The entire 1994 season, in which the Packers swept us with scores of 33-6 and 40-3
  • Championship count in the era: Packers 1 (1996), Bears 0
  • Championship count overall: Packers 12, Bears 9

This was just awful.

Starting in his 2nd start against us in 1992 and ending with the 2003 season, Brett Favre went 20-3 against the Bears. Our three wins were all kind of fluky.

In 1993, we won 30-17 by scoring three defensive touchdowns. In 1999, we won 14-13 on a blocked field goal (shades of Bill Hewitt!) in the famed Walter Payton Game. (More on this game here.)

And in 2000, we beat the Packers by three points for our first win of the season after an 0-4 start.

Other than that, Favre deconstructed our team and our collective will to watch. This was also the era where announcers figured out that the most demoralizing graphic to show during the Bears-Packers game was one of two similar, overlapping stats, so of course they showed them every damn time we played:

  • Bears starting quarterbacks since Jim McMahon
  • Bears starting quarterbacks since Brett Favre took over as Packers starting quarterback

In 2001, the Bears went 13-3, but two of the three losses were to Green Bay. Those losses told me that we weren’t going to contend for a championship, because no real 13-3 Bears team gets swept by the Packers.

To my dismay, I was right. But well before that, the series was so out of hand that in 1997, Packers rookie Bill Schroeder was asked about participating in the rivalry for the first time ever.

“The way we’ve been beating them, I don’t know if it’s much of a rivalry any more,” Schroeder said.

To his credit, Packers coach Mike Holmgren defended our honor, saying, “I suspect any of our young guys, Bill Schroeder included, the first time anyone hits them in the mouth, they’ll realize they’re in a big rivalry now.”

But the damage was done. A backup Packer — a ROOKIE, no less — felt confident enough to dismiss the validity of the entire rivalry.

I’m not gonna lie: that one hurt.

2004-2008: Lovie restores our pride

  • Dominant team: Bears, 7-3
  • All-time series: Bears, 91-80-6
  • Streak: The Bears won three straight games, sweeping the series in 2005 and romping in the 2006 season opener 26-0
  • Biggest win: That 26-0 win in 2006
  • Championship count in the era: None
  • Championship count overall: Packers 12, Bears 9

Bill Schroeder wasn’t the only guy to realize the rivalry had lost some luster, nor the only one to know why.

“We haven’t held up our end of the deal,” new Bears coach Lovie Smith said the week leading up to his first game against the Packers. “We’re saying it's a rivalry game, but both teams have to win for that to happen, and it’s our job to make it that way.”

Lovie famously came to Chicago stating that the team’s top goal was to beat the Packers, and he got right to work when the 0-1 Bears rolled into Soldier Field on Sept. 19, 2004 and beat the Packers 21-10.

Green Bay beat us in the season finale, but our resurgence under Lovie in 2005 included two monster wins, followed by the 26-0 spanking to open the 2006 Super Bowl season.

In 2007, the Packers had their version of the 2001 Bears: they went 13-3, but two of their three losses were to us. I was at the 2nd one, a freezing affair the Bears won 35-7, capped off by Brian Urlacher’s 85-yard touchdown on an interception of Favre, who for the third straight season was playing allegedly his final game at Soldier Field.

Not surprisingly, the 2007 Packers didn’t win a championship either.

The final win of this era was the 2nd game of 2008, the coldest game of the rivalry. Once again, a blocked field goal proved crucial, as Alex Brown blocked Mason Crosby’s would-be winner to send the game to overtime and keep our playoffs hopes alive.

In 2012, I interviewed former Bears Jason McKie and Nathan Vasher about the rivalry. They both still get pumped thinking about that era of dominance. Vasher’s favorite memory speaks to the madness of the fans:

Vasher: I remember playing here in Chicago when we had a streaker during the Green Bay game.

Jack: What year was that?

Vasher: I don't know. But one of the fans jumped out here at Soldier Field …

Jack: But wait, '05, '06, '07 and '08, it was freezing at Soldier Field for all those games.

Vasher: [Laughs.] Yeah! So it's just for the fans, because we know how important it is for them. And then driving up to Lambeau, you see this big beautiful stadium right in the middle of this small neighborhood. And you got 60-year-old ladies giving you the finger. That's it in a nutshell right there.

2009-2016: Rodgers vs. Cutler, and the end of the lead

  • Dominant team: Packers, 14-3
  • All-time series: TIED, 94-94-6
  • Streak: The Packers won six straight, from the 2010 finale that got them into the playoffs to the 2nd game of 2012 that more or less locked up the division championship
  • Biggest win: The 2010 NFC championship — Packers 21, Bears 14
  • Championship count in the era: Packers 1 (2010), Bears 0
  • Championship count overall: Packers 13, Bears 9

On the eve of the 2010 NFC championship, fans needed only to listen to Lovie Smith talk to know how the rivalry had changed in his time.

“You just look at our history and it does have a respectful tone, but it can be nasty also,” Smith said the Monday before the game. “It's going to be a physical game. We don’t like each other. Believe me, there is not a whole lot of love for us coming up north.”

That was the last time that we had any real claim to the rivalry’s dominant team. We were clinging to the claim of dominance based on our series lead, and based on the hope that the Jay Cutler Era — then in its 2nd season — would overwhelm the Aaron Rodgers Era, then in its 3rd season.

And indeed, the Bears gave Rodgers arguably his worst playoff game ever, holding him to his playoff career-low 55.4 QB rating on zero touchdowns and two interceptions.

But while this was a forgettable game for Rodgers, it goes down as arguably the definitive game of Cutler’s career. He left with an injury — and yes, a REAL injury — and did not return.

In 2017, Bleacher Report ran a feature on Cutler, interviewing ex-teammates about him. Five former Bears spoke. Here’s what three of them said about that game:

D.J. Moore: This is the last game of the year. If you don’t win, you’re going into the offseason. So I think a lot of people were upset with him. I know I personally was. Like, man, could you try? And then it made it worse when Hanie is out there and he’s not giving him pointers. Once you see somebody like that not fighting for you, it frustrates you.

Rashied Davis: It’s hard to question whether a guy is injured or not…. But I will say there’s a difference between physical toughness and mental toughness. Mental toughness really kicks in when the game is on the line. When it’s not just physical pressure you’re taking. It’s pressure to win a game, it’s pressure to perform. I’m not 100 percent sure he has that part of the game. … That’s my question about Jay: Is he as mentally tough as you would need to be the leader of your team?

D.J. Moore: Moments like that make really, really good quarterbacks. In a game like that, to beat your rival and beat a really good quarterback like Aaron Rodgers to take Chicago to the Super Bowl, in especially a city like Chicago—it’s all football—it could’ve changed who he was and how a lot of people looked at him.

Corey Wootton: He’s not a vocal guy like a Drew Brees or Tom Brady. But for a guy that’s getting paid that much—a franchise quarterback—people want that guy to be a vocal leader. That’s just something he wasn’t.

Meanwhile, here’s what Lance Briggs had to say about Cutler’s persona:

In the league, in that circle, we create the story of who we are. When people mention specific names, it’s “Ray Lewis: oh, he’s intense.” This is his character. This is what people say about him. … And when we talk about Jay, we say, “Jay, it looks like he doesn’t care.” That persona is something that he built. That’s the one he’s most comfortable with.

Let’s let Olin Kreutz have a word here too, from my interview with him in 2017. Kreutz also suffered an injury that game, tearing the Lisfranc ligament in his right foot at the start of the 2nd half. His take:

Two totally different situations. I wasn’t 100% healthy but I could do my job. But when you’re a quarterback and your plant leg is gone, your leg shakes when you try to plant or step on it hard.

As for the rivalry’s record, the Packers had a chance to tie in the 2nd game of 2015. You remember that day. It was Thanksgiving. The Packers were retiring Favre’s jersey. Cutler hadn’t won a game in the series since 2010. A perfect day for Green Bay to tie the season series, right?

HAHAHAHAHAHA.

Cutler and the Bears pulled out a 17-13 win, leading to one of WCG’s favorite GIFs.

We led by two games. We were hanging on. We lost the first game in 2016. We had another chance to keep our lead.

Nope.

The Packers beat us 30-27 to close 2016 (with Matt Barkley nearly pulling out the surprise win) and tie the series. Although Jay did not play in either Packers game in 2016, this was the official end to his era. His final record as a Bear against Green Bay was 2-11, including the loss in the playoffs.

In the words of Rob Gordon, who needs a drink?

2017-2020: Money Mitch and Matt falter where others also faltered

  • Dominant team: Packers, 7-1
  • All-time series: Packers, 101-95-6
  • Streak: The Packers hold a four-game winning streak entering 2021, which gives them a six-game series lead and counting, their largest of the rivalry. (Ours is 24, held in 1960 and 1992.)
  • Biggest win: The Packers beat us in the season opener in both 2018 (a game we led 20-0 at halftime) and 2019. The 2019 loss was worse, because we had legitimate Super Bowl aspirations and instead lost 10-3.
  • Championship count in the era: Packers 1 (2010), Bears 0
  • Championship count overall: Packers 13, Bears 9

When I wrote this in 2019, I said I was excited for the Mitch/Nagy era because of this:

Brett Favre vs. Bears, pre-Lovie: 20-4

Aaron Rodgers vs. Bears, pre-Nagy: 16-3

Brett Favre vs. Bears, Lovie Era: 2-6

Aaron Rodgers vs. Bears, Nagy Era: ???

Brett Favre, Lovie’s first year: turned 35

Aaron Rodgers, Nagy’s first year: turns 35

I added the following horrific paragraph:

What we need now is to officially break the Rodgers spell. We’re not quite there. We were almost there in our season opener last year, but then Rodgers — CARTED OFF THE FIELD IN THE 1ST HALF — overcame injury to lead the Pack back from a 20-0 deficit, committing all manner of heinous grievances against our person, namely a 75-yard catch-and-chase touchdown to Randall Cobb to give Green Bay its final 24-23 lead.

Instead, we lost seven of eight to the Packers during the Trubisky era, including one game where Rodgers didn’t even play and we lost to Brett Hundley!

The back-to-back hammer blow of 2019 and 2020 brought us to down six games in the rivalry, leading to me taking a deeply sobering look at the rivalry and bitterly acknowledging that over the past 25 years, we are more Lions than Packers.

The details are horrific.

Since 1995, here is how we stack up compared to the Packers and Lions (Packers-Bears-Lions):

  • Championships: 2-0-0
  • Super Bowls: 3-1-0
  • NFC conference championship games: 8-2-0
  • Division championships: 14-5-0
  • Postseason appearances: 19-6-6
  • Losing seasons: 4-14-18
  • 10-loss seasons: 2-10-15
  • Last-place finishes in the NFC North: 1-10-11
  • Bears record vs. Green Bay: 13-40
  • Lions record vs. Green Bay: 15-37

All this despite having the most players in that time named 1st team All Pro (16, compared to 11 for the Packers and 8 for Detroit) and the most combined seasons of 1st team All Pro selections (21, compared to 18 for Green Bay and 15 for Detroit).

To put our six game deficit in context, on Oct. 25, 1992, we beat the Packers and new quarterback Brett Favre 30-10 to take a 24-game lead in the series: 81-57-6.

We’re now down six games.

That’s a 30-game swing in three decades. Since that first game in 1992, the Packers have won 41 of 55 games against us, including the 2010 NFC championship. They have won two Super Bowls in that time (we have none), three NFC titles (we have one), 12 division titles (we have five) and have appeared in six NFC championship games to our two.

Listen, I love Bears history. But man, I sure do wish we had something to talk about that wasn’t history.

Speaking of which...

2021-present: Justin Fields rides to the rescue (we hope)

  • Dominant team: ???
  • All-time series: ???
  • Streak: ???
  • Biggest win: ???
  • Championship count in the era: ???
  • Championship count overall: ???

The above question marks represent a clean slate. Justin Fields is the new chapter in Bears history, and has his first start in the series on Sunday. We have not swept the season series since 2007, and we need three straight sweeps just to get back to even with the Packers.

In other words, we have a long road ahead. Onward and upward, Bears fans. Be like Bill Hewitt and don’t look back.

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Jack M Silverstein is Chicago’s sports historian, Bears historian at Windy City Gridiron, and author of the forthcoming “6 Rings: The Bulls, The City, and the Dynasty that Changed the Game.” His newsletter, “A Shot on Ehlo,” brings readers inside the making of the book, with original interviews, research and essays. Sign up now, and say hey at @readjack.

This article was made possible by the invaluable resources of Pro Football Reference, BearsHistory.com, PackersHistory.net, and Newspapers.com.