As the Bears and the NFL celebrate their 100th season in 2019, fans will have the unique opportunity to vote for the greatest moment in franchise history.
They’ll choose from one of four moments that will be featured on ChicagoBears.com this week. The four moments are listed below in chronological order.
The winning moment will be announced during the regular season. It will then compete in a bracket tournament against the greatest moments from every NFL team, with the top moment in league history set to be revealed at NFL Honors the night before Super Bowl LIV in Miami.
Bears rout Redskins 73-0 to win 1940 NFL championship
Dec. 8, 1940
The Bears thrashed the Redskins 73-0 in the 1940 NFL Championship Game at Griffith Stadium in Washington in what remains the most lopsided regular season or postseason game in league history.
The Bears scored 11 touchdowns and intercepted eight passes—three of which they returned for scores. They kicked so many extra points into the stands that officials asked coach George Halas to run scrimmage plays for the conversions after his team’s final two TDs because they were down to their last football.
The Bears set the tone on the second play from scrimmage when Bill Osmanski—sprung by a George Wilson block that wiped out two Washington defenders—dashed 68 yards for a touchdown. The Bears led 21-0 after the first quarter, 28-0 at halftime and 54-0 following the third period.
The 73-0 victory came exactly three weeks after the Bears had lost to the Redskins 7-3 at Griffith Stadium late in the regular season. After the Bears had complained that Washington should have been assessed a pass interference penalty in the end zone on the game’s final play, Redskins owner George Preston Marshall called the Bears crybabies, quitters and frontrunners.
Leading up to the championship contest, Halas showed his players newspaper clippings of Marshall’s comments and told them in the locker room before the game: “Gentleman, this is what George Preston Marshall thinks of you. Well, I think you’re a great football team. Now, go out there and prove it!”
Payton avoids half of Chiefs defense on spectacular run
Nov. 11, 1977
On one of the most iconic runs of his illustrious career, Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton demonstrated his power and perseverance in breaking six tackles on an 18-yard run against the Kansas City Chiefs at Soldier Field.
On a sweep to the right, Payton spun away from one tackle, eluded three others and bowled over two defenders before being dragged down from behind at the Kansas City 4-yard line. The Chiefs led 17-0 at the time, but Payton rushed for three second-half TDs to help rally the Bears to a 28-27 victory.
The game-winning touchdown came on Avellini’s 37-yard pass to Greg Latta with :03 remaining. The victory over the Chiefs was the first of six straight to close the season as the Bears turned a 3-5 start into a 9-5 finish to earn their first playoff berth since winning the NFL championship in 1963.
Payton had many longer runs than his 18-yarder against the Chiefs, but none better displayed his strength and determination. Sweetness spent his entire 13-year NFL career with the Bears from 1975-87, missing only one game and retiring as the league’s all-time leading rusher with 16,726 yards. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993 in his first year of eligibility.
Payton was voted to nine Pro Bowls, set 27 Bears records and had his No. 34 retired. He also threw eight touchdown passes and led the NFL in kickoff returns as a rookie in 1975 with a 31.7-yard average.
Bears hammer Patriots in Super Bowl XX to cap magical 1985 season
Jan. 26, 1986
The famed 1985 Bears captivated the nation with a collection of characters who dominated opponents and brought fun back to pro football. That was never more evident than in their 46-10 destruction of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX at the Louisiana Superdome.
The relentless Bears defense battered the overmatched AFC champions, yielding just seven yards rushing, registering seven sacks and scoring on an interception return and a safety.
After the Patriots took an early 3-0 lead, the Bears responded by scoring 44 unanswered points to set a record that has since been broken for the most lopsided victory in Super Bowl history.
The Patriots gained positive yards on just one of their first 15 plays. Tony Eason was yanked in favor of veteran Steve Grogan after going 0 of 6 with three sacks. In the first half, New England had one first down, minus-five yards rushing and minus-14 yards passing.
Jim McMahon passed for 256 yards and rushed for two touchdowns, while Richard Dent was named the game’s MVP after recording 1.5 sacks.
The Super Bowl victory capped one of the most dominant seasons in NFL history. The Bears went 15-1 and became the first team in league annals to record back-to-back shutouts in the playoffs, blanking the New York Giants 21-0 in the divisional round and the Los Angeles Rams 24-0 in the NFC Championship Game, both at Soldier Field.
Hester returns opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI for touchdown
Feb. 4, 2007
Devin Hester capped a record-breaking rookie season by becoming the first player in NFL history to return the opening kickoff of a Super Bowl for a touchdown. The second-round draft pick from Miami dashed 92 yards to give the Bears an early 7-0 lead in an eventual 29-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Hester enjoyed a magical rookie season, setting an NFL record with five kick return touchdowns during the regular season. He returned a punt 84 yards for a touchdown in a 26-0 win over the Packers in his first NFL game; lifted the Bears to a stunning 24-23 comeback victory over the Cardinals with a late 83-yard punt return TD; and set a single-game franchise record with 225 kickoff return yards in a win over the Rams, including TDs of 94 and 96 yards.
Hester’s performance in 2006 helped the Bears win the NFC North with a 13-3 record and win their first NFC championship since 1985.
Hester is considered by many to be the greatest return specialist in NFL history. In eight seasons with the Bears, he became the league’s all-time leader with 18 kick return touchdowns and 13 punt return TDs, was voted to three Pro Bowls, won 13 special teams player of the week awards and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 2000s.