An unfortunate reality of football is that not every plays goes well for your team. Some plays simply “don’t work out” and others result in minor setbacks, but as any Chicago Bears fan knows some plays leave searing scars that burn in your memory to this day. In the spirit of SBNation’s 30 day challenge, today I get to talk to you about my worst personal Bears scar. Hooray.
While I wish I could get right down to the play, the unfortunate truth of being a Bears fan is that there are a lot of bad plays to sift through — in the last 5 years alone, the Bears have given us the Double Doink, the Marcus Cooper Endzone Fumble, the John Fox Touchdown-Touchback Challenge, the Lamar Houston ACelebrationL Tear, and enough others to make any fan’s head spin. With that in mind, I’m not going to start with my least favorite play, I’m going to start with my least favorite game and work up to it. Chances are, you’ll know where I’m going with this immediately.
My least favorite game happened on December 29th, 2013, on NFL Week 17. The Chicago Bears took on the Green Bay Packers in Soldier Field with the division on the line, a classic win-and-in rivalry game with stakes that couldn’tve been higher. The game started out perfectly as the Bears’ defense picked Aaron Rodgers off twice in the first half while their offense found their footing, and with 3:33 left in the second quarter the Bears led 7-3. Then, disaster struck.
#Bears fans, when's the last time you were this upset/embarrassed? pic.twitter.com/wc6Hrcoo3c— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) June 3, 2021
What could’ve been Rodgers’ 3rd turnover of the game quickly turned into 7 points the other way as Bears fans watched the ball lay there while screaming at their TV. What was once an always-pick-the-ball-up Lovie Smith defense failed to play through the whistle in a critical moment despite every opportunity to at least fall on the fumble. Jarrett Boykin, the Packers’ scorer, even stood still for 3 painful seconds before taking off for the endzone untouched. The Packers scored and took the lead on a play that could’ve blown the game open.
And yet, this is not my least favorite Bears play.
After entering halftime down 13-7, the Bears battled back in the second half off the backs of great running from Matt Forte and big-time throws from Jay Cutler. Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall found seams in the Packers’ defense and the Bears exploited them well — just 5 seconds into the 4th quarter, the Bears had amassed an 8 point lead off of crisp offensive execution.
How does a team have the audacity to lose this game? https://t.co/CxBuOHG3Xc pic.twitter.com/VwNwLJw6Wz— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) June 3, 2021
(I’ve re-watched this game plenty of times and that Jay-Marshall touchdown still gets me out of my seat to this day. What fun!)
Still, in classic Aaron Rodgers fashion, the Packers closed the gap to a single-point lead just minutes later and forced the Bears to answer. With a tenuous 27-28 game on their hands, the Bears’ offense found themselves in a 3rd & 17 predicament with 6:38 left in the game — what happened next was one of the more memorable offensive failings of my childhood.
The broadcast view of this play hits SO different than the All-22 view -- from the broadcast it looks like Jeffery flat-out drops it, but the endzone cam suggests the ball came in way too far inside.— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) June 5, 2021
Tough, tough play, the #Bears needed this one. Set up you-know-what. https://t.co/KgTiiK0rBy pic.twitter.com/KPYv1Nc9S5
At first glance, it looks like Alshon Jeffery drops a catchable pass that would’ve sealed the game. For years I carried this play with me as my ultimate “what if”, but about a year ago I took a look at Gamepass’ endzone view and totally changed my opinion — this ball is thrown well short, thus it’s way too far inside, and given Jeffery’s momentum (remember, he’s running a sideline fade at full speed) it would’ve taken herculean finger-strength to do anything more than knock this pass down. Unfortunately this means that Jay Cutler, in this critical Week 17 win-and-in moment, missed a makeable play downfield and gave Rodgers the chance to complete the comeback.
This also is not my least favorite Bears’ play.
The Packers re-took possession of the ball and slowly eked their way downfield, fighting through 3rd and 4th down conversions alike, and found themselves in trouble on a midfield 4th and 8 with just 46 seconds left to play. All the Bears had to do was deny 8 yards, or even simply hold the Packers outside of field goal range. Instead, the unthinkable happened.
I hate this play so much pic.twitter.com/9atB6aPbTZ— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) June 5, 2021
Chicago fans have lived and re-lived this moment too many times already, so for those who don’t know I’ll keep it brief: Chris Conte, #47, missed a man-coverage audible call and sat in zone while Randall Cobb blew past him for the easiest game-sealing touchdown you ever did see. In this single moment, which is absolutely my least favorite Bears play, Aaron Rodgers defined Bears fandom in a way I’m still struggling to un-learn to this day: Somehow, in some way, the Packers will find a way to beat the Bears in big moments. As a now-26 year old Bears fan, that’s yet to change. Hopefully Justin Fields can do something about that.
Now it’s your turn — what’s your least favorite Bears play? Do you have something that tops mine? What still burns you up to this day? Jot it down in the comments and find company in your misery.