Sunday’s Packers-Bears matchup at Lambeau Field marks the 200th meeting in the NFL’s most-played rivalry.
From Lambeau and Lombardi to Halas and Ditka, from Favre and Rodgers to Luckman and McMahon, from Payton and Sayers to Starr and Hornung, from the Titletown era to the ’85 Bears, the rivalry has endured for almost a century.
The series is ridiculously close, as Green Bay holds a 97-94-6 edge in regular-season games, though the teams have met only twice in the postseason, splitting them. A mere 33 points separates the teams over the 199 games, with the Packers holding a miniscule 3,444-3,411 advantage in scoring.
The teams have met 11 times on Monday night, seven times on Sunday night, six times on Thursday night, once on Thanksgiving, and twice on Christmas.
Picking a top 10 in this kind of a series could be anyone’s guess. There have been a plethora of significant games, and plenty of singular moments.
With all of that in mind, here are 10 of the most memorable matchups for Packers-Bears, in chronological order.
1. Staleys 20, Packers 0 in Chicago, Nov. 27, 1921 – In the first-ever meeting, the Bears weren’t known as the Bears but as the Staleys, a holdover from the franchise’s inaugural season in Decatur. Playing the first of 50 seasons at Wrigley Field, Chicago notched the shutout in front of a crowd of 7,000, and would go 7-1-2 in the teams’ first ten meetings through 1927.
2. Bears 33, Packers 14 in Chicago, Dec. 14, 1941 – The first playoff matchup between the two decided the Western Division title after both finished at 10-1, each providing the only loss to the other. In 16-degree temperatures at Wrigley a week after Pearl Harbor, Chicago jumped to a 30-7 halftime lead and ran for 277 yards on the afternoon.
3. Packers 21, Bears 17 in Green Bay, Sept. 29, 1957 – In the inaugural game at City Stadium (renamed Lambeau Field in 1965), the Packers scored with 8:21 remaining for the upset. Chicago was coming off a 9-2-1 season, while Green Bay, mired in a decade-long slump, went on to finish 3-9.
4. Packers 9, Bears 6 in Green Bay, Sept. 27, 1959 – Packer star Jim Taylor scored from five yards out midway through the fourth quarter for the game-winning score, the only touchdown for either team in Vince Lombardi’s first game as Green Bay head coach. Lombardi went 13-5 over the Bears in his nine seasons, one of many big runs in the series from either team.
5. Packers 12, Bears 6 in OT in Green Bay, Sept. 7, 1980 – In the first of only two overtime meetings between the teams, Polish-born Green Bay kicker Chester Marcol tried a field goal in the extra period, had it blocked, then picked up the loose ball and ran it in for the game-winning touchdown.
6. Bears 23, Packers 7 in Chicago, Oct. 21, 1985 – In the midst of the Bears’ 1985 title run, coach Mike Ditka infamously used mammoth William “Refrigerator” Perry as a running back to score in a goal-line offense. The Monday Night game reflected the animosity between Ditka and Green Bay head coach Forrest Gregg, a lineman in the Lombardi era.
7. Packers 14, Bears 13 in Green Bay, Nov. 5, 1989 – Trailing 13-7 with 32 seconds to go, Green Bay quarterback Don Majkowski hit Sterling Sharpe with a 14-yard touchdown pass, but referees called Majkowski for being over the line of scrimmage. Instant replay, however, reversed the call, handing the win to the Packers and infuriating Ditka.
8. Bears 14, Packers 13 in Green Bay, Nov. 7, 1999 – In the Bears’ first game after the untimely death of Walter Payton six days before, Chicago blocked a 28-yard field goal as time expired for the victory at Lambeau Field.
9. Packers 21, Bears 14 in Chicago, Jan. 23, 2011 – In the NFC title game at Soldier Field, the Green Bay defense knocked two Chicago quarterbacks out of the game, and the Packers held off a fourth-quarter Bears rally. Green Bay went on to win its league-high 13th championship two weeks later in Super Bowl XLV.
10. Packers 33, Bears 28 in Chicago, Dec. 28, 2013 — With the NFC North title on the line in the season finale, visiting Green Bay rallied with 13 unanswered fourth-quarter points. Aaron Rodgers found Randall Cobb on a 48-yard scoring pass on fourth down with 46 seconds remaining for the win.
Tom Emery is a freelance writer and historical researcher from Carlinville, Ill. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.