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Watch all of Brian Urlacher’s 19 tackles in the 2006 comeback against the Cardinals

Brian Urlacher goes into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend. Where were you the night he racked up 19 tackles in the comeback for the ages against the Cardinals? Reminisce here, and watch clips of every play he made.

Monday Night Football broadcast via YouTube

There is something so magical about not going to the game.

That’s not to say that not going to the game is preferable to going to the game. Not at all. If you attend an all-timer, you are part of history. As a Bears fan, I’ve experienced that with both the ups (Mike Singletary’s final home game, a 30-6 spanking over the playoff-bound Steelers) and the downs (the 2001/2002 playoff loss to the Eagles).

But everything is heightened at the ol’ ballgame, and when you end up at a dud you remember it nonetheless. In 1993, for instance, my family attended a 6-0 win against the Falcons, with the Bears scoring only on a pair of Butthead field goals, and the game was so dull that when the final gun sounded, my father looked at me and said, “Oh wow, that was a shutout.” It hadn’t occurred to us.

Had we watched that game at home, we would not have changed the channel, of course, but we may have been more prone to flip through a magazine, engage in deeper conversation or participate in any other natural distraction.

So when you watch a game from home and you STILL feel like you were there? When a game’s intensity radiates into your living room until the very couch where you catch cat naps feels as cold and tremorous as the seats in section 214? When a game has you so gripped that your “Where were you when” response feels historic even though the answer is “the living room”?

Well my friend, that’s when you know you’ve witnessed greatness.

And that’s how I felt watching Brian Urlacher and the Bears deconstruct the Cardinals on that glorious Monday night in the fall of 2006.

“First of all, they weren’t blocking me,” Urlacher explained after the game. “So that was easy.”

Talk to any Bears fans who attended that game at University of Phoenix Stadium and you’ll see that they can still hear the way the cheering that night shifted from Cards to Bears. They all have stories about cocky Cardinals fans cowering by night’s end, and how good it felt to invade an opposing stadium as the league’s best team, get beaten down and rise up and conquer.

Talk to any member of the Bears who played that night and they’ll tell you about the locker room — how no one gave up hope at halftime and how, in the words of Peanut Tillman, the postgame celebration entered Mardi Gras levels.

I was at my parents’ condo. At that point in my fandom, I’d seen quite a few miraculous comebacks from the Bears, from other football teams, and just in sports, in general. The longer you spend as a sports fan, the older you get, the more “template” games you develop.

Bears fans of my generation (born in the early 1980s) were given two miraculous template games in 2001: the Mike Brown games. That’s when you know a game has truly become a template game, when all you need is a one-line descriptor and everyone knows what you mean.

For me though, another Bears comeback template game was in 1999, when Shane Matthews linked with Curtis Conway for two touchdowns in the final two minutes, flipping a 10-0 snooze loss into a 14-10 call-everyone-you-know win.

So I wasn’t exactly thinking all was lost when we went to the locker room against Arizona down 20-0. I just couldn’t figure out how we were going to win.

Our defense and special teams, that’s how.

And while we had amazing plays from Devin, Peanut, Mike Brown, Mark Anderson, Lance, Todd Johnson, Ayanbadejo, Boone and others, the night belonged to one man.

Number 54.

Brian Urlacher.

“Brian Urlacher has decided to take over this football,” announcer Joe Theismann said in the 4th quarter, with the Bears clawing back to 23-17. “He’s made two tackles here in the last three plays. He’s batted a ball down. He’s forced a fumble in the last five. He’s had 10 tackles and one forced fumble. He has really been all over.”

The Bears defense was so good — and the offense so inept — that when we forced Arizona to punt at the end of this drive, I was dismayed. This was trouble. We needed our third defensive score if we were going to win this game.

My father and I sat on the couch as Scott Player lined up to punt. My mother, a stone cold Bears fan, had stepped into the other room to take what was surely a life-changing phone call, as I can’t imagine her leaving for anything else. Player boomed it skyward, Devin Hester fielded it at the 17, and the world shook.

“OH MY GOD DEVIN DID IT WE’RE UP WE’RE UP!” I yelled, dashing toward the room where my mom was on the phone, and then remembering that maybe if she was, that I shouldn’t yell to much, and then sliding on the wood floor in my socks and reversing back toward the couch to high five my father, the two of us staring at each other and at the TV and at each other and cheering with every Bears fan in Phoenix and Chicago and anywhere else.

Urlacher was pumped too. On the sideline, the camera caught him grinning after Hester scored and saying to teammates, “We got it now.”

Crazily, the game had one more twist. Rookie quarterback and seemingly future-MVP Matt Leinart led the Cardinals back into field goal range. Urlacher did everything he could to singlehandedly halt them. Arizona ran eight plays that drive. Urlacher made tackles on four of them and broke up a pass on another. He was everywhere that drive. He was everywhere that night. I don’t know if that was the night his Hall of Fame bid was sealed, but it was certainly the night that his legend was settled.

When Neil Rackers hooked his 40-yard field goal wide to the left, our heads exploded. And “our” means everyone. Yours. Mine. My dad’s. Rackers’s. Denny Green’s. Edge James’s. Peanut’s. Devin’s. Chris Harris’s. Lovie’s.


“We just couldn’t quit — we wouldn’t quit. We won’t quit,” Urlacher said after the game.

They couldn’t. They wouldn’t. They damn sure didn’t. They were who we thought they were. And 12 years later we’re all still smiling.

Jack M Silverstein is Windy City Gridiron’s Bears historian, and author of “How The GOAT Was Built: 6 Life Lessons From the 1996 Chicago Bulls.” He is the proprietor of Chicago sports history Instagram “A Shot on Ehlo.” Say hey at @readjack.




BEARS FANS! Where were you when the Bears pulled off the comeback for the ages? Drop your story in the comments or tweet to me at @readjack. I will embed those tweets here as they come in.

Along with the videos above, click here to see every one of Urlacher’s 19 tackles, along with the three touchdowns. Bear Down!

Salute to Brian Urlacher. Even the Cardinals came around:




Here’s what Bears fans were doing that night: