The Greatest Games in Chicago Bears History: The 1988 "Fog Bowl"
The Greatest Games in Chicago Bears History: The 1988 “Fog Bowl”-- Chicago Bears vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 12/31/88
(Not only did Eagles QB Randall Cunningham, left, have to deal with a fierce Bears defense, his job was made a lot tougher on Dec. 31, 1988 when a dense fog invaded Soldier Field. Courtesy of ESPN.com and U.S. Presswire)
(Players and officials struggled to see through the fog. The view from the stands and press box was even worse. Courtesy of ESPN.com and U.S. Presswire)
1988 was a year of great change for the Bears. Players such as Walter Payton and Gary Fencik were lost to retirement. Wilbur Marshall and Willie Gault left as free agents to sign with the Washington Redskins and Los Angeles Raiders, respectively. A “new” running back by the name of Neal Anderson burst onto the scene and led the Bears in rushing for the second straight year in a string of seven consecutive seasons of pulling the trick. Lastly, Jim McMahon was on his last legs in Chicago before being traded to San Diego following the season because of his antics and his continually deteriorating play. Still, despite these factors, the Bears finished the season 12-4-0 and won its fifth consecutive division title. They did so with a lackluster offense and with the typically-potent defense fans had come to expect under the watchful eye of head coach Mike Ditka.
As the Bears ended the season as NFC Central Division champions, they would get to host the Divisional Playoff versus the NFC East Division-winning Philadelphia Eagles. The game would be played on New Years Eve 1988 at Soldier Field. Further adding intrigue to the game was the rekindling of an old feud between Mike Ditka and former Bears’ defensive coordinator and then-Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan, who was the architect of the famed “46” defense that led the Bears to the Super Bowl in 1985. Every one of the 68,000+ fans in attendance expected a competitive game between two teams with gifted defenses. What they did not expect was Mother Nature placing her watermark on what has to be one of the most interesting and widely-remembered football games in the history of the NFL.
The day began filled with sunshine and featured temperatures that reached approximately 38 degrees by kickoff. Late in the second quarter, Kevin Butler kicked a 46-yard field goal to give the Bears a 17-6 lead. Then, the great cloak of Mother Nature descended upon Soldier Field. Said former Bears quarterback Mike Tomczak, “I thought the parking lot was on fire.” Meanwhile, Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham said to himself, “Hey, that’s weird. These clouds are dropping down on us. What’s going on here?”
Bears Hall of Fame middle linebacker Mike Singletary, who played in the game, stated, “It looked like a football game when they’re introducing the players. This fog was just being artificially pumped in. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen.
Although fog is relatively rare in Chicago, it is not unheard of, said Tom Skilling, the longtime meteorologist for WGN TV Chicago. “It was daytime warming that caused this cool, dense air out over the 32-degree waters of the lake to start moving inland -- that’s what brought the fog bank in,” Skilling explained. “There’s fog and then there’s fog. The Fog Bowl was fog. I mean, this was pea soup, London fog, zero visibility.”
On the field, it was difficult to see beyond a radius of 10 to 15 yards. The view from the press box was completely obscured. CBS Sports announcers Verne Lundquist and analyst Terry Bradshaw took this handicap in stride. Amidst the chaos, the pair managed to do an excellent job, as was demonstrated by the following comments:
Lundquist: “Cunningham will throw…or run. Sacked for the fourth time. Wait a minute…”
Bradshaw: “He got rid of the ball, Verne.”
Lundquist: “Must have. He completed it to somebody. And we’re not trying to make light of this, but it is actually impossible for us to see the field.”
CBS eventually sent two sideline cameras that had been dedicated to the pregame show, “The NFL Today,” to give viewers a better sense of the action. Jim Riebandt, Soldier Field’s public address announcer, couldn’t see the field or the scoreboard. When he apologized and asked the crowd to “bear with me,” they booed. “A Bears crowd is a tough crowd,” said Riebandt.
After the fog appeared, referee Jim Tunney approached both head coaches and they agree to play on. “This was a doubleheader on Saturday, and the next day, Jan. 1, was another doubleheader of the NFL,” reasoned Tunney. “And on Monday, all the colleges were playing bowl games. So if you stop the game at the second quarter, when would you play it -- Tuesday?”
Mike Tomczak’s 64 yard touchdown pass to Dennis McKinnon proved to be the difference in the game. However, he would throw three interceptions before suffering a separated shoulder in the third quarter. The Eagles kicked a field goal before halftime, but could not take advantage of Randall Cunningham’s 400+ passing yards to win. (The majority of the passing yards were distributed between fullback Keith Byars [9 catches for 103 yards] and tight end Keith Jackson [7 catches for 142 yards].)
Said Cunningham, “When that fog rolled in, you might as well close your eyes and close up the shop. That was it. We could probably have had the whole team on the field and people wouldn‘t have known. Maybe that‘s what we should have done.”
As Tomczak said, “We were the better team that day. They know they got beat on the scoreboard. That’s the only thing that matters.”
“It was the best game that a player could ever play,” said Singletary, “because you could do horribly and tell the coach you were doing great and come off the sideline and he would never know. And, of course, you didn’t have the film to show it. It was like a supernatural experience.”
Said Skilling: “That will forever go down as one of the most major weather events in Chicago. It didn’t kill anyone. There were no injuries, no property damage, but none of us will ever forget the Fog Bowl.”
|Quarter ||Team ||Scoring Description ||Philadelphia Eagles Score ||Chicago Bears Score |
|1st || Bears ||Dennis McKinnon 64 yard pass from Mike Tomczak (Kevin Butler kick) || 0 ||7 |
| ||Eagles || Luis Zendejas 42 yard field goal ||3 ||7 |
|2nd ||Eagles ||Luis Zendejas 29 yard field goal ||6 ||7 |
| ||Bears ||Neal Anderson 4 yard rush (Kevin Butler kick) ||6 ||14 |
| ||Bears ||Kevin Butler 46 yard field goal ||6 ||17 |
| ||Eagles ||Luis Zendejas 30 yard field goal ||9 ||17 |
|3rd ||Eagles ||Luis Zendejas yard field goal ||12 ||17 |
|4th ||Bears ||Kevin Butler 27 yard field goal ||12 ||20 |
Last edited by Dagan81; 11-22-2012 at 08:17 AM.
High Fives / Like - 2 BEAR DOWN!, 0 Dislikes
I remember that game very well. I was working in Princeton N.J. and boy did I ever get shit from all my friends who were Eagle fans. They all thought the game should have been called due to the fog. I simply told them that BOTH teams had to deal with it and that shut them up enough for at least a while. I did win a lot of beer from them as well. Drank good for a couple of weeks.
You know, I was in the first grade when that game was played. I didn't start watching football for another year, and even then, it was Tennessee Volunteer football in the college ranks. I didn't really start growing interested in the Bears until the late 1990s when I first started reading about their history. Then came the 2001 and 2005 seasons and I was like, "Damn, they don't suck anymore! It's safe to watch!" Sadly, neither team would experience a prolonged period of success other than the 2005 team was followed up with the 2006 Super Bowl squad. I only wish I could have been old enough and lived closer to Chicago to have watched the great Bear teams of the 1980s and early 1990s. That would have been sweet. They really haven't come close to duplicating that kind of success since then on an ongoing basis, mainly because of poor management by the front office and owners.
Originally Posted by omc1969
I do remember the first real memory I have of someone liking the Bears. In the fifth grade, a kid in my class took a trip to Chicago and saw a Bears game at Soldier Field. I don't remember what game it was, but I do remember him bring back posters from The Chicago Tribune and bumper stickers propping up the Bears. Also, I do remember when Mike Ditka lost his job. I remember that most of my friends thought he was a joke and a clown because of some of his antics he displayed while coaching and in press conferences. That being said, the more I read about his time with the team as head coach, the more respect I have for Ditka because of the front office bullshit he had to deal with.
Amen to that brother. Mikey M. all but dismantled the SB team due to his being cheap and arrogant. Ditka was the bright spot but even he couldn't overcome the ineptness of the front office.
Originally Posted by Dagan81
Why did Mike Singletary only play 12 seasons in the league? You have guys like Urlacher who has put in 13 years and will probably play at least two to three more depending on his health, and Ray Lewis, who has played 16 years. Hell, even Doug Buffone played for 14 seasons in a far more primitive era as far as medical treatment is concerned. I'm not questioning Singletary's toughness. I just wonder if he got injured in 1992 or something.
Originally Posted by omc1969