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Bears Matchup Flashback: Comeback in the Desert 2.0

The Bears and Cardinals have a deep history that's entangled with Chicago. Before the 92nd all-time meeting on Sunday, let's look back at their previous encounter.
Mitch Trubisky Bears Cardinals

Photo: Norm Hall/Getty Images

This Sunday, the Chicago Bears host the Arizona Cardinals at Soldier Field. Just 10 days earlier, the Bears ended their five-game losing streak against the Detroit Lions. Meanwhile, the Cardinals were busy resting up and getting healthier on their bye week.

Coming into this matchup, the Cardinals sport a 9-2 record and lead the NFC West. On the flip side, the Bears own a 4-7 record and find themselves just one game out of the final playoff spot in the NFC.


The Bears and the Cardinals share a weird and complicated history. Established in Chicago in 1898, the Cardinals were the original team of the Windy City. For nearly four decades, both the Bears and Cardinals co-existed in Chicago (1922-1959). However, in 1960, the Cardinals moved out of Chicago and went down I-55 to St. Louis. That stop lasted until 1988 when the franchise finally relocated to the Phoenix area. Since that time, they've been residents of Arizona.

Dating back to 1920, these two teams have squared off 91 times. Some of those matchups include the days of the Decatur Bears. Since their first battle 101 years ago, the Bears have dominated the Cardinals. They lead the series 57-28-6 while outscoring their counterpart 1,734 to 1,189.

Previous Matchup

The last time these two teams faced each other was just three years ago. Since then, both teams have gone in completely different directions. On September 23, 2018, the Bears took the field against the Cardinals down in Arizona. The Bears came into the matchup with a 1-1 record and the Cardinals were 0-2. It was a quarterback battle between Mitch Trubisky and Sam Bradford. Meanwhile, Matt Nagy and Steve Wilks patrolled the sidelines for their respective teams. Both head coaches were in their first years in that role.

First Half

As for the game, it got off to an ominous start for the Bears. The Cardinals stormed down the field on a five-play, 75-yard drive to take an early 7-0 lead. Ricky Seals-Jones hauled in a 35-yard catch from Bradford on a busted coverage. In response, the Bears marched 47 yards on 12 plays led by Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. However, the drive stalled and Cody Parkey missed a 46-yard field goal attempt.

Fortunately, the Bears' defense forced the Cardinals' offense to go three-and-out. But on the subsequent drive, Trubisky fumbled while attempting to scramble. That blunder gave the Cardinals a short field. Consequently, Arizona capitalized on the very first play. David Johnson hauled in a 21-yard pass for a touchdown to extend his team's lead to 14-0.

David Johnson Cardinals Bears

Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic

Then, both teams exchanged punts following short drives. This set up the Bears' first score of the game. After an 11-play, 71-yard drive aided by Cardinals penalties, Parkey connected on a 20-yard field goal. The Bears failed to capitalize with the ball inside the five-yard line. Nevertheless, Chicago cut the deficit to 14-3.

On the following drive, the Cardinals once again went three-and-out. However, another Trubisky turnover (interception) ended the momentum provided by the defense. Once more, the Bears' defense forced a three-and-out to get Arizona's offense off the field. The Bears ran one play and time expired in the first half.

At halftime, the Cardinals held a 14-3 lead over the Bears.

Second Half

The second half got off to a roaring start. The Bears' offense went three-and-out while losing a net of one yard. After their punt, Bradford threw an interception on the fourth play. Eddie Jackson perfectly timed the play and covered a lot of ground. Next, the Bears' offense marched 67 yards down the field on nine plays, which resulted in a one-yard Howard touchdown run. This score cut the Cardinals' lead to 14-10.

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Jordan Howard Bears Cardinals

Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic

On the following drive, Bradford was at it again. The veteran quarterback threw another interception, this time to Sherrick McManis.

Subsequently, the Bears moved 21 yards on seven plays and settled for a 41-yard field goal. Now, the Bears trailed by only one point with the score reading 14-13. Next, the Cardinals, specifically Bradford, committed a turnover on their third straight possession. This time, Khalil Mack forced a fumble to stop a potential scoring drive.

Khalil Mack Bears Cardinals

Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic

Back on offense, the Bears rumbled 59 yards on 13 plays and took the lead on a 43-yard field goal. Chicago led for the first time all game by the score of 16-14.

At that point, the Cardinals inserted rookie quarterback Josh Rosen into the game looking for a spark. However, that attempt went in vain as Bryce Callahan intercepted Rosen's pass on the eighth play of the drive. That pick marked the fourth straight drive with a turnover for the Cardinals.

  • Interception (Bradford)
  • Interception (Bradford)
  • Fumble (Bradford)
  • Interception (Rosen)

The Finish

The Bears' offense quickly went three-and-out and gave the ball back to the Cardinals for one last chance. On the second play of the drive, Eddie Jackson intercepted Rosen's pass and seemingly returned it for a touchdown. However, the referees called Khalil Mack offsides to nullify the scoring play. Jackson's interception would have made it five straight drives with a turnover by a Cardinals quarterback. Two plays later, McManis ended the game by sacking Rosen.

Once down 14-0, the Bears roared all the way back for a 16-14 win over the Cardinals.

Matt Nagy Steve Wilks Bears Cardinals

Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic


The victory propelled the Bears to 2-1. During the last 13 games, Chicago finished 10-3 for a season mark of 12-4. Even sweeter, the Bears clinched the NFC North at home against the Packers. They eventually secured the third seed in the NFC. As a result, the Bears hosted the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card game only to lose a 16-15 heartbreaker. No need to rehash the details; we all remember it vividly.

As for the Cardinals? They dropped to 0-3 following the loss. Arizona finished the season by going 3-10 for an overall record of 3-13. As a result, they fired Steve Wilks after one season and parted ways with Josh Rosen as well. In turn, the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury and drafted Kyler Murray. That pair now has a stacked roster surrounding them and a 9-2 record as they fight for the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

RELATED:The Comprehensive Guide to Bears vs. Cardinals