By Don Pierson, Special to the Tribune
5:13 PM CST, December 25, 2013
Here's a look at the other Bears-Packers season finales:
2010: Packers 10-3. Jan. 2, 2011, Lambeau Field.
Locked in a 3-3 tie, Aaron Rodgers connected on a 1-yard scoring pass to Donald Lee with 2 minutes, 50 seconds to play to give the Packers the victory. Jay Cutler was intercepted twice as the Bears were kept out of the end zone after taking a 3-0 halftime lead.
The Bears had won the NFC North and if they had won the season finale, the Packers would have been knocked out of the playoffs altogether and that NFC title game never would have happened.
2006: Packers 26-7. Dec. 31, Soldier Field.
Meaningless. The 13-2 Bears had won the NFC North and secured home-field advantage on their way to the Super Bowl, so Brian Griese replaced Rex Grossman in the second half as Lovie Smith rested regulars and let Brett Favre get the Packers to 8-8.
2004: Packers 31-14. Jan. 2, 2005, Soldier Field.
While it meant nothing in the standings, this had the potential to change the course of Bears-Packers history. The Packers had clinched the NFC North and the Bears were 5-10. Brett Favre threw two touchdown passes as the Packers won at Soldier Field for the 11th consecutive time.
Meanwhile, Chad Hutchinson was quarterbacking the Bears and had one interception returned 43 yards for a touchdown. Hutchinson followed Craig Krenzel and Jonathan Quinn as replacements that season for injured Rex Grossman, the Bears' new quarterback of the future.
With a chance to upgrade at quarterback in the ensuing draft, the Bears failed to take the hint the Packers were providing and selected running back Cedric Benson. Later in the first round, with Favre still going strong, the Packers nevertheless solidified the position with their pick of Aaron Rodgers.
1998: Packers 16-13. Dec. 27, Soldier Field.
The Packers already had clinched a wild-card playoff spot and the Bears were mopping up at 4-11. Ryan Longwell's 18-yard field goal in the fourth quarter won it. Brett Favre threw only one touchdown pass and had two interceptions, same numbers as Bears' quarterback Steve Stenstrom, who was starting for injured Erik Kramer.
The Bears did get the quarterback hint this time and drafted Cade McNown, which might explain why they couldn't bring themselves to pull the trigger on Rodgers six years later.
1983: Bears 23-21. Dec. 18, Soldier Field.
The Packers had a chance to win the NFC North until the Lions clinched it in Detroit. The Bears kept the Packers from a winning season when Bob Thomas kicked a 22-yard field goal with 10 seconds left and both teams finished 8-8.
The game was a launching pad for the Bears' dominance of the '80s as second-year quarterback Jim McMahon opened the scoring with a 35-yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver Willie Gault. Walter Payton ran for 148 yards and Buddy Ryan's budding defense forced seven turnovers to devastate quarterback Lynn Dickey and the Packers.
1973: Packers 21-0. Dec. 16, Soldier Field.
The 4-7-2 Packers completed only three passes yet shut out the hapless 3-10 Bears when John Brockington ran for 142 yards and MacArthur Lane ran for 101, the first time two Packers running backs surpassed 100 yards in the same game.
It marked the end of the final season for middle linebacker Dick Butkus, out with injury. The Bears drafted Waymond Bryant as his successor. Moreover, Bears' President George "Mugs" Halas Jr. hired general manager Jim Finks from the Vikings before the next season, which would be coach Abe Gibron's last.
It was Gibron who once candidly assessed his team's prospects by confiding in linebacker Doug Buffone before a season: "Hey Dougie. We ain't got a chance."
1968: Packers 28-27. Dec. 15, Wrigley Field.
The 7-6 Bears already had defeated the 7-6 Vikings twice and only had to beat the 5-7-1 Packers to clinch the NFC Central Division title for coach Jim Dooley in his first season after succeeding George Halas.
The Bears got two big breaks because five-time world champion quarterback Bart Starr was injured and backup Zeke Bratkowski was knocked out early in the first quarter. But third-stringer Don Horn broke the Bears' hearts by completing 10 of 16 passes for 187 yards including a 67-yard touchdown to Jim Grabowski. Ray Nitschke intercepted a Jack Concannon pass at the Packers 35 with 1:07 left.
The Vikings won the division and the Bears stayed home.
1933: Bears 7-6. Dec. 10, Wrigley Field.
On their way to their third NFL title, the Bears made a second-quarter touchdown pass from Keith Molesworth to Gene Ronzani stand up after Joe Zeller blocked Roger Grove's extra point kick in the fourth quarter following an 88-yard punt return by Bob Monnett. Halas had hired Zeller from the Packers after noting he "seemed to have success in stopping (Bronko) Nagurski."
The Packers finished 5-7-1, the Bears 10-2-1.
1930: Bears 21-0. Dec. 7, Wrigley Field.
This was the pre-playoff era and the Packers already had clinched their second of three consecutive titles in the standings. The Bears, who finished in third place, intercepted six passes and end Luke Johnsos scored two touchdowns. The Bears ended a seven-game winning streak by the Packers in the series.
It was the season George Halas quit playing and first replaced himself as coach, hiring Ralph Jones from Lake Forest Academy. Jones instituted the modern T-formation with man-in-motion. Halas hired Bronko Nagurski, Jones put Grange in motion and Halas wrote in his autobiography: "We ended the 1930 season with nine wins, four losses, one tie. We were on our way to becoming the Monsters of the Midway."
1926: Bears 3, Packers 3. Dec. 19, Cubs Park.
Paddy Driscoll kicked the tying field goal for the Bears with five minutes left. Pid Purdy's 50-yard dropkick had given the Packers the lead. The Bears finished 12-1-3 in second place; the Packers 7-3-3 in fifth place.
Red Grange temporarily had left the Bears to join the rival New York Yankees in 1926, but Halas reported his team still finished the season with a profit — $989.96.
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