Chicago Sun-Times

The top-10 Bears Hanukkah games of all-time

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A Bears game on Christmas is problematic even for Jewish Bears fans because there are usually aren't any televisions in Chinese Restaurants. Of course, this is only the second time the Bears have played on Christmas. They beat the Packers 24-17 at Lambeau Field in 2009. The Bears intercepted Brett Favre four times, including one that Lance Briggs returned 10 yards for a touchdown that gave the Bears a 24-7 lead in the third quarter. It was the beginning of a run of five victories in six games over Favre, who had tormented them for most of the previous decade.

And that glorious day was even sweeter for many of us because it not only was Christmas, but most of that game, which kicked off after 4 p.m. Central time, was played on first night of Hanukkah. It was the first time the Bears had beaten the Packers on Hanukkah since 1991. Not exactly 40 years in the desert, but it seemed like a generation to a lot of Bears fans.

In fact, while the Bears are 1-0 on Christmas, it is not as well known that they are 30-34-2 on Hanukkah. Three of their nine NFL titles were won on Hanukkah -- 1933, 1941 and 1943. The 1985 Super Bowl team is the only Bears team to win twice on the Festival of Lights, beating the Colts 17-10 and the Jets 19-6. In 1979, the Bears almost miraculously beat the St. Louis Cardinals 42-6 to edge the Redskins for the final NFC playoff spot. The following year they didn't make the playoffs, but still made it a great Hanukkah with a 61-7 rout of the Packers.

So in the spirit of two great traditions, here are the top 10 Bears games on Hanukkah:

1. 1941: Bears 37, Giants 9 -- It doesn't get much better than this: After beating the Packers in a playoff game just before the first night of Hanukkah, the Bears closed the holiday with a rout of the Giants for their second-consecutive NFL title.

2. 1943: Bears 41, Redskins 21 -- Luckman, the NFL Most Valuable Player, threw five touchdown passes to lead the Bears to their third NFL title in four years.

3. 1933: Bears 23, Giants 21 -- Bronko Nagurski threw a 14-yard pass to Bill Hewitt, who lateral led to end Bill Karr for a touchdown and Jack Manders kicked three field goals as the Bears, with George Halas back after a three-year absence as head coach, won the first NFL Championship Game.

4. 1979: Bears 42, Cardinals 6 -- On the day that team president George "Mugs" Halas died, the Bears needed not only a victory in their regular-season finale, but also needed a decisive victory to win a possible point-differential tie-breaker with the Redskins to make the playoffs. The Bears, who had scored 29 points in their previous three games, scored 42 to finish 10-6 and make the playoffs for the second time in three years.

5. 1980: Bears 61, Packers 7 -- Vince Evans threw three touchdown passes and Walter Payton scored three touchdowns as the biiggest rout in the history of the Bears-Packers rivalry eased the pain of one of the most gut-wrenching losses in the history of the Bears-Packers rivalry -- a 12-6 overtime loss when Packers' place-kicker Chester Marcol scored on a 25-yard run off a blocked field goal.

6. 2008: Bears 20, Packers 17 (OT) -- Alex Brown blocked a 38-yard field goal attempt by Mason Crosby with 18 seconds left and Robbie Gould boots a 38-yarder in OT as the Bears avenged a 37-3 loss at Green Bay earlier this season and kept their playoff hopes alive at 9-6. Needing only to beat the Houston Texans on the road in the final game of the season, the Bears lost 31-24.

7, 1977: Bears 21, Packers 10: Walter Payton rushed for 163 yards to move within 199 of breaking O.J. Simpson's all-time single-season record of 2,003 with one game to go and scored two touchdowns as the Bears not only completed a season sweep of the Packers (they had won 26-0 at Green Bay), but won their fifth consecutive game in an unlikely mad dash for their first playoff berth since 1963. The Bears beat the Giants 12-9 in overtime the following week to make the playoffs after they were 3-5 at midseason.

8. 1963: Bears 24, Lions 14 -- Bill Wade threw touchdowns of 51 yards to Johnny Morris and 22 yard to Mike Ditka and Dave Whitsell returned an interception 39 yards for a touchdown as the Bears completed an 11-1-2 regular season to set up the Bears for their first NFL Championship since 1946 when they beat the Giants 14-10 at Wrigley Field.

9. 2006: Bears 34, Buccaneers 31 (OT) -- Tight end Desmond Clark caught seven passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns as the Bears' offense bailed out a defense struggling with Tommie Harris and Mike Brown both out for the season to move to 12-2 en route to the Super Bowl.

10. 1964: Packers 17, Bears 3 -- The Bears made the most of a disappointing follow-up season to their 1963 championship by losing their final two games to set themselves up to draft Gale Sayers with the fourth pick in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on December 25, 2011 5:27 PM.

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