CHICAGO – Thanks to the rotation of the National Football League schedule, teams can often go a few years without facing each other on the gridiron. That means when two squads make the Super Bowl, there is no guarantee that your favorite team will have faced them on the field that particular year.
But the 2018 Bears have that unique distinction this year as they watch the Patriots face the Rams on Sunday in Atlanta, for they faced each team during the regular season before each made their run to the championship.
On October 21st, the Bears faced the defending AFC Champions at Soldier Field for the first time since the 2010 season in a competitive match-up on a sunny day in Chicago.
The Bears were done in by two special teams errors – a Cordarrelle Patterson 95-yard kickoff return touchdown in the first half and a blocked punt for a score by Kyle Van Noy that helped the Patriots build as much as a 14-point advantage. Mitchell Trubisky rallied the Bears late in the game, getting the lead down to seven on a touchdown pass to Trey Burton. On the final play of the game, he threw towards the endzone to Kevin White, who made the catch on the one-yard line but couldn’t get it into the end zone as time expired.
The December 9th Sunday night game against the eventual NFC champion Rams went much better and could be considered the team’s best victory of the 2018 season.
While the offense was sluggish most of the night in the return of Mitchell Trubisky from a shoulder injury, they did dazzle the crowd with their “Santa’s Sleigh” play which featured a number of defenders and a touchdown catch by Bradley Sowell. Yet the defense was the story of the game, holding the high-powered Rams to just two field goals and 214 yards of total offense, picking off Jared Goff twice in a 15-6 win that improved the Bears to 9-4 on the season.
While it might seem more common, this marks a rare moment in Bears’ history where the has faced both participants in the Super Bowl in the same season. It’s only the fifth time it’s happened in the 53 times which the game has been held, though it wasn’t possible for the Bears to face both opponents till the NFL-AFL merger after Super Bowl IV, and it hasn’t happened since the 1991 season, when the Redskins and Bills advanced to the championship.
Here are the other four times it has happened:
1971 -October 31st – Bears beat the Cowboys 23-19 in Chicago
November 29th – Bears lose to the Dolphins 34-3 in Miami
1976 – October 10th – Bears lose to Vikings 28-27 in Minneapolis
October 31st – Bears beat the Vikings – 14-13 in Chicago
November 7th – Bears lose to the Raiders 28-27 in Oakland
1987 – November 16th – Bears lose to the Broncos 31-29 in Denver
January 10th – Bears lose to the Redskins 21-17 in Divisional Playoff in Chicago
1991 – September 29th – Bears lose to the Bills 35-20 in Orchard Park
October 6th – Bears lose to the Redskins 20-7 in Chicago
In 2018, they are one of five teams in the NFL this year that faced both participants in Super Bowl LIII, including the Chiefs, Lions, Packers, and Vikings.
Detroit beat the Patriots 24-10 on September 23rd at Ford Field, then lost at home to Rams 30-16 on December 2nd. Kansas City lost to Patriots 43-40 on October 14th at Gillette Stadium and in AFC Championship 37-31 on January 20th at Arrowhead Stadium, while the Rams beat them 54-51 on November 19th in one of the memorable games of 2018.
Los Angeles beat Green Bay 29-27 at the Coliseum on October 28th, then New England defeated the Packers 31-17 on November 4th in Foxborough. The Rams beat the Vikings 38-31 on September 27th at home and the Patriots did the same against Minnesota, knocking them off 24-10 on December 2nd.