CHICAGO – In case you haven’t heard, it’s going to be a little chilly for the Bears’ game against the Bills on Saturday afternoon.
The forecast high temperature is expected to be a little below ten degrees with 30-to-35-mile-per-hour gusts pushing the wind chill below zero.
It’s not unusual for a Bears’ home game to be cold, but this kind of extreme weather is a little rare.
So let’s take a look at some of those games from the past where the players and fans were put to the test by “Bear Weather.”
The coldest game at Soldier Field
That occurred on December 22, 2008 against the Packers on Monday Night Football, when the kickoff temperature was at 2 degrees with a wind chill of -13, according to the team’s records.
It was a big game for the Bears who hoped to stay in playoff contention with a victory, and the contest went back and forth in front of a capacity crowd that still showed up in the cold.
Tied in the final seconds of regulation, Green Bay had the chance to win the game with a field goal, but Alex Brown blocked Mason Crosby’s kick to force overtime. There it was Robbie Gould booted a 38-yard kick through the uprights for a 20-17 win.
The second-coldest game at Soldier Field was also against the Packers on December 18, 1983 when the kickoff temperature was 3 degrees, with the Bears prevailing 23-21 in front of 35,807 fans.
“Bear Weather” for “Da Coach”
The last time the Bears played a game at Soldier Field where the high temperature at kickoff was under 10 degrees was a special day in Bears’ history.
Mike Ditka, who had a celebrated career with the team as a Hall of Fame tight end and Super Bowl-winning head coach, had his No. 89 retired at halftime of the game against the Cowboys on December 9, 2013.
The Bears did him proud that night as they defeated Dallas, a team that Ditka also played and coached for, 45-28 thanks to four throwing and one rushing touchdown from backup quarterback Josh McCown.
A chilly finale for “Sweetness”
There was hope that this cold day wouldn’t be the last in the career of the greatest player in the history of the Chicago Bears.
On January 9, 1988, the Vikings upset the top-seeded 49ers in the NFC Divisional round, meaning that a win over Washington by the Bears on January 10 would bring the NFC Championship to Soldier Field. That would be a big deal since Payton had already announced that he’d retire following that season.
But on a 4-degree day, the third coldest Bears’ game at Soldier Field, that wouldn’t happen, as the career of “Sweetness” came to an end.
For a second-straight year, Washington knocked off the Bears in the divisional round, winning a tight 21-17 contest on a sunny but brutally cold afternoon. Payton rushed for 85 yards and had three pass receptions, but it wasn’t enough to keep his career going for another week.
When it was over, the Hall of Fame running back sat on the bench with his head in his hands with the realization that his playing career had come to a close.
The cold didn’t help against this warm-weather team
There are some people who would say that “Bear Weather” doesn’t really matter when it comes to wins and losses – and some point to January 8, 1989 as the reason for that philosophy.
While the temperature was around 17 degrees according to the CBS broadcast of the game, the 30-to-35 mile-per-hour wind gusts pushed the wind chill toward minus 30 for the NFC Championship game against the 49ers.
But the warm weather team looks quite comfortable in the conditions as they bashed the Bears 28-3. Joe Montana overcame the wind to throw for 288 yards and three touchdowns, including a 61-yarder to Jerry Rice in the first quarter that set the tone for the game.
This was the second-straight extreme weather game for the Bears, who beat the Eagles in the famous “Fog Bowl” the week before.
It would be the last NFC Championship game the Bears would play for 18 years.
A chilly Wrigley Field championship
Before 1971, the Bears played their home games at Wrigley Field, which saw a few chilly days as well.
The most memorable was the last NFL Championship that was played at the “Friendly Confines” on December 29, 1963 against the New York Giants.
Per ProFootballReference.com, the temperature that day was a frigid 4 degrees with a wind chill of minus 11, but the Bears’ fans in attendance would be rewarded for sitting through the conditions.
The team captured the NFL championship in a 14-10 win over the Giants as two Bill Wade quarterback sneak touchdowns proved the difference on a day the defenses dictated the play.
The Bears forced six turnovers on the day and intercepted Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle five times. Richie Petitbon’s pick in the end zone with ten seconds to go in the game finally sealed the championship victory.
It was the sixth and final NFL title for head coach and team founder George Halas and the first for the team since 1946.