“The Chicago Bears scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns, ran for 196 yards and limited Drew Brees and a potent New Orleans Saints offense en route to a 39-14 win at Soldier Field, which clinched the team’s first NFC Championship since its Super Bowl run in 1985.”
That is how it might have read had we been around on Jan. 21, 2007 when the Bears beat the Saints in the NFC title game.
It was a one-sided romp, too, with the Bears jumping out to a 16-0 lead behind three Robbie Gould field goals, and a Thomas Jones rushing touchdown. Sure, Drew Brees threw for 354 yards and two touchdowns – but he also threw an interception, fumbled twice, and was sacked three times on a day that belonged to the Bears from start to finish.
Allow us (and yourself) to look back at that team fondly, here exactly 10 years later.
It was one of the best offensive teams in Bears history despite being quarterbacked by Rex Grossman, who had a good year, throwing for 3,193 yards and 23 touchdowns (and 20 unfortunate interceptions). Thomas Jones carried the load as a running back, as he rushed for 1,210 yards and six touchdowns. The 2006 Bears had no 1,000-yard receivers, but Muhsin Muhammad led the way with 863 yards and five touchdowns while tight end Desmond Clark added six receiving scores.
But make no mistake about it, the Bears defense – orchestrated by head coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Ron Rivera – was the heart and soul of the team. Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs led the way as a tackling tandem at linebacker. Rookie Mark Anderson racked up 12 sacks. Charles “Peanut” Tillman and Ricky Manning Jr. led the secondary with five interceptions each. This unit was loaded from front to back.
Even when the group was down early, the defense and special teams – led by kicker Robbie Gould and return specialist Devin Hester – were so good that the Bears were never out of it.
Remember the comeback against the Cardinals on Monday Night Football?
Unfortunately for the Bears, they have made just one playoff appearance since – losing the 2010 NFC title game to the Green Bay Packers after finishing the regular season with the conference’s best record.
So, if you’re not thrilled with the idea of watching the Packers in another NFC Championship game again tomorrow, you can re-live highlights from the 2006 NFC championship season instead: