Sports

5 defining Urlacher performances

After playing his entire 13-year NFL career with the Bears, Brian Urlacher announced his retirement Wednesday. Boiling his career down to his five most memorable games is tricky, but here's what made our list.

 

Sept. 17, 2000: N.Y. Giants 14, Bears 7

URLACHER: 13 tackles, first career sack

A safety-turned-linebacker in college, Urlacher's Bears career began with him as a backup outside linebacker. That didn't last long. When starting middle linebacker Barry Minter got hurt in Week 2, Urlacher slid over to the middle in Week 3 and never relinquished the job.

QUOTABLE: "I remember the first [practice] they moved 'Lach to middle linebacker," Olin Kreutz told the Tribune years later. "His first play, I jumped out to try to block him. He ran by me like I wasn't even there."

 

Oct. 7, 2001: Bears 31, Atlanta 3

URLACHER: 5 tackles, sack, interception, forced fumble, fumble return for TD

Urlacher always played well against Michael Vick, but this was the only time Urlacher recorded a sack, interception, forced fumble and recovered fumble in the same game. The rookie Vick played the second half in place of the injured Chris Chandler. A fun day for Urlacher, not so much for Vick.

QUOTABLE: "We put in some new stuff [for the Falcsons]," Urlacher said. "It was designed to confuse Chandler, but on Vick it worked even better."

 

Oct. 16, 2005: Bears 28, Vikings 3

URLACHER: 9 tackles, 2 sacks

Urlacher won the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award in 2005, once again leading a top-ranked Bears D. Perhaps his best game was against Minnesota in October, when he dragged the 6-foot-4, 264-pound Daunte Culepper to the turf for two huge sacks.

QUOTABLE: "[Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera] turned us loose today," Urlacher said. "He called a bunch of blitzes—they worked. We flew around and had a good time."

 

Oct. 16, 2006: Bears 24, Arizona 23

URLACHER: 19 tackles, 2 passes defended, forced fumble

The quintessential Urlacher game, and one of the greatest comebacks in Bears history. Urlacher's heroics – including 19 tackles – prompted a tirade from Cardinals coach Dennis Green so legendary that the Cardinals used it Wednesday as a farewell tweet:

@AZCardinals: "You were who we thought you were. Congrats. RT @BUrlacher54: It was an honor to play my entire career for the @ChicagoBears."

QUOTABLE: "First of all, they weren't blocking me. So that was easy," Urlacher said after the game.

 

Nov. 4, 2012: Bears 51, Tennessee 20

URLACHER: 7 tackles, forced fumble, interception for TD

In his final NFL season, Urlacher was still a top talent at middle linebacker. He was slower, to be sure, but that didn't stop him from playing a marvelous game against the Titans: 7 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception returned 46 yards for a touchdown.

QUOTABLE: "He said [before the game], 'It would be nice to get a touchdown,'" teammate Charles Tillman said. "I said, 'Hey, call it, man. The tongue has the power of life and death. Call it, say it, speak it, believe it.' He did and he got in the end zone."

Jack M Silverstein is a RedEye special contributor. @readjack

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