|Butkus and the Bears captured the 1963 NFL Title, while Marshall and the Vikings|
got theirs in 1969, before losing to the Chiefs in Super Bowl IV.
|Payton carries against|
Minnesota in 1983
|Harbaugh and Ditka get into it in 1992|
|Although most Vikings-Bears meetings were fairly typical uniform-wise, in 2007 in the Metrodome, the Vikings went mono-purple, while the following year they|
went retro and the Bears went mono-white...
|...and in the second game in 2008 in Chicago, the Bears broke out the Orange Alts...|
|...and two years later in November 2010, the Bears went retro themselves, |
while the Vikings donned purple pants
The arrival of head coach Bud Grant from the CFL and the Purple People Eaters front four featuring Alan Page, Carl Eller, Jim Marshall and Gary Larsen turned the tide of the series. From 1969 through 1983 the Vikings record against Chicago was 22-6. This period included 10 Division Titles and many epic playoff contests with the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams. Unfortunately, all four Super Bowl appearances for the Vikings ended with disappointing losses.
In the midst of this Minnesota NFC Central domination, came a record setting performance from a remarkable player. In Week 10 of the 1977 season the 6-3 Vikings visited the 4-5 bears. Halfback Walter Payton was ill with the flu, but coach Jack Pardee knew his star back was Chicago's only chance against Minnesota's strong defensive front. Chicago's first play on the cold, damp, windy afternoon at Soldier Field was an end run where Payton charged ahead for 29 yards. The all rush drive ended in Minnesota territory on a failed fake field goal attempt, but Payton would fin the end zone in the second quarter on a one yard plunge, and a Bob Thomas field goal gave the Bears a 10-0 halftime lead. The weather conditions were so foul that Bears quarterback Bob Avellini attempted just one pass in the half, a six-yard completion to Payton, who had 26 carries for 144 yards - an impressive total for a full game! The first Bears possession of the third quarter resulted in a punt being blocked for a Viking touchdown, cutting the lead to 10-7. Both defenses clamped down and yards were at a premium. When the Bears received the ball at their own 20 yard line with 5:38 Payton had 201 yards on 36 carries. After picking up a first down, Payton gained 58 yards on his 38th carry, being tackled at the Vikings nine-yard line. Two rushes and a sack gave Chicago a fourth-and-goal and coach Pardee did not have confidence in a field goal attempt, even from short range. Payton rushed for six and was tackled at the two, giving him 275 yards, breaking O.J. Simpson's record of 273. The Bears defense held on for the victory, evening Chicago's record at 5-5. Both teams finished the season at 9-5. The Bears qualified for the post season for the first time since 1963 but lost to Dallas in the Wild Card Round. Minnesota won the Central Division, defeated the Rams in the Divisional round but lost to the Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game.
One of the series most unforgettable moments occurred in the fourth quarter of a game at the Metrodome in October 1992 with Chicago nursing what seemed like a comfortable 20-0 lead. Bears quarterback Jim Harbaugh had played well, leading four scoring drives, throwing for a touchdown and running for another. On a first down he called an audible, but telegraphed a pass that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Coach Mike Ditka was apoplectic, and met Harbaugh on the field, screaming, cursing and gesturing wildly. After the game, Ditka did not back down, and told the press, "I'll just say this...if it happens again, there will be changes made and they will be definite and they will be permanent. I'm not going to put 47 players' futures in the hands of one player who thinks he knows more than I do." The sudden change in momentum was palpable. The Chicago offense stagnated, gaining only two first down the rest of the way, while the Minnesota offense capitalized. Quarterback Rich Gannon was a perfect 7-7 in leading two touchdown drives to complete the improbable comeback. This was the beginning of the end for Coach Ditka in Chicago. The Bears struggled to a 5-11 record, their worst in a decade. The Vikings won the NFC Central title with an 11-5 mark but exited the playoffs in the Wild Card round with a loss at home to the Washington Redskins.
Special teams played a pivotal role for the Vikings in the 2008 Soldier Field meeting, but this time it was to the Bears benefit. Chicago scored twice on punt plays, but surprisingly neither involved return ace Hester. With the game tied 7-7 in the first quarter, Chris Kluwe bobbled the snap and had his punt blocked. Kluwe illegally kicked the ball a second time while it was on the ground right to defender Garret Wolfe who returned it 17 yards for a touchdown (second picture above). Midway through the second quarter with the score tied at 17, Viking returner Charles Gorman had the ball bounce off his leg inside his own 10 yard line, which Chicago's Zackary Bowman recovered in the end zone for the touchdown. The back-and-forth scoring continued through the half and third quarters, which included a 51-yard touchdown catch by Marty Booker. After a one-yard rush by Matt Forte opened the lead to 17 points, Minnesota attempted a comeback attempt. Gus Frerotte lead the Vikings to a field goal and touchdown to close the gap to 48-41, but with a chance to tie the game his final pass was intercepted and the Bears ran the clock out. The 41 points were the most Chicago has ever surrendered in a victory.
Last year, the 8-8 Bears swept the 3-13 Vikings, winning in October on Sunday Night Football at Soldier Field and again in Minnesota for the season finale in December. The 2012 Bears are 7-3 and are reeling having lost two straight primetime games with QB Jay Cutler being injured. Cutler should be back today, but the Vikings are revitalized this year behind QB Christian Ponder and at 6-4 are in the thick of the NFC Wild Card race. In just two weeks these two teams will meet again in the Metrodome, possibly with the Division title on the line, although the 7-3 Green Bay Packers also figure to have in say in that as well.