Greatest Comeback: Bears vs. Cardinals, 2006
In a game that was controlled by the Cardinals, the Bears defense and special teams found a way to win.
A Monday Night football classic. This was a week six matchup with the Bears visiting the Cardinals in Phoenix, Arizona. The Bears walked into this one with a 5-0 record, and the Cardinals limped in with a 1-4 record. Looking at that on paper, the Bears should have walked all over the Cardinals in this game. Well, that was not the case on this night.
The first quarter was all Cardinals offense. They controlled the clock on offense and moved the Bears defense around the field. Matt Leinart capped the quarter off with two touchdown passes to make the score 14-0. In the second quarter, things started to go a bit better for the Bears. The defense started to slow the Cardinals offense, holding Arizona to only two field goals. Heading into halftime down 20-0 was not a good look for the Bears at all.
The game changed at halftime. It started in the locker room with Olin Kreutz leading the team in the breakdown, even saying “We will win this game.” The Bears finally got on the board thanks to a Robbie Gould field that made the score 20-3. With the third quarter winding down, the Cardinals opened that lead back up to 23-3 with a field goal of their own. Those would be the last points that they would put on the board the rest of the game. The Bears defense would force a fumble with Mike Brown scooping it up for a three-yard touchdown return, which made it a 23-10 game going into the final quarter.
The game seemed to be fading away from the Bears with little time left in such a big hole. Well, that changed with 5:11 left on the clock. Charles Tillman picked up a fumble that the defense created and walked in for a touchdown to make it a 23-17 game. Could they complete a major comeback in this game? You would think that Arizona would just run some clock down and give the dormant Bears offense the ball back. Rex Grossman ended the game with 144 yard and four interceptions. Thomas Jones only recorded 43 rushing yards on 11 carries.
At this rate, the Cardinals should have just run as much time as possible and plan for a defensive stop, just as they had done all game. The Cardinals special teams made one massive mistake: they kicked it right to Devin Hester. He took that punt back 83 yards for a touchdown, which made the score 24-23. Teams seemed to forget to never kick it to that man; I don’t know who would have thought that it a good idea at that point in the game.
It still wasn’t over, though. The Cardinals got the ball back and drove down the field to attempt a field goal with 52 seconds remaining on the clock. Neil Rackers was 2/2 at this point in the game, but he would miss this one just wide to send the Bears home with a 6-0 record. In a game that was controlled by the Cardinals, the Bears defense and special teams found a way to win. The Cardinals’ collapse resulted in an epic meltdown by Arizona head coach Dennis after that game.
The infamous “They are who we thought they were” moment filled headlines for days after. In the end, this game was a moment in time that made the Bears so special. They could win a game in any phase of football.
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