What I think I remember from the past 11 Bears season openers

It's time for another season of Chicago Bears football! 4th Phase!

Just landed in Chicago after uneventful train ride from New Orleans… no new friendships, no 16-hour train romance, no collision with 18-wheeler… Metra leaves for Wilmette at 10:35, and with the Bears season opener a few hours away, jerseys can be seen wandering the streets and station: Payton, Cutler, Urlacher, Briggs, Hester, Singletary, Mike Brown, Matthew Stafford, Forte, Peppers, Plank, Tommie Harris, Jason Hanson…

And so, it’s time to play…

What I think I remember from the last 11 Bears season openers

2009… Sunday night game against Green Bay (on the road?)… Bears lose, weird score (16-12?)

Adewale Ogunleye (2 sacks) was terrific for the Bears in the 2009 season opener

SIGNIFICANT DEBUTS: JAY FREAKIN’ CUTLER!… The Speedy Johnny Knox

BEARS FIRST POINTS: Danieal Manning tackles Aaron Rodgers for safety

MEMORABLE PLAYS: The Manning safety… Cutler to Knox for 68 yards down right sideline… Cutler to Hester for seemingly game-winning TD… Johnny Jolly’s paw-snatch interception

HOW IT WENT DOWN: Bears take late lead on Cutler to Hester TD, and blow lead on game-winning Rodgers TD pass (Greg Jennings?)… Cutler throws four picks (game-ending pick?) en route to league-high 26 interceptions… Urlacher goes down in second quarter with season ending wrist injury… Bears win next three before dropping eight of ten to finish an uninspiring 7-9 for the 368th time in franchise history

2008… Sunday night game at Indianapolis… Bears win big (29-13?)

The rookie Matt Forte led the Bears to an opening week win against Indy in 2008.

SIGNIFICANT DEBUTS: Matt Forte… Devin Hester as starting wideout… Kyle Orton as starting QB from preseason battle, not preseason injury

BEARS FIRST POINTS: Forte touchdown?

MEMORABLE PLAYS: Big Matt Forte TD run (54 yards?)… game-capping TD fumble return from Lance Briggs off Peanut Tillman strip

HOW IT WENT DOWN: Bears “avenge” Super Bowl XLI loss with stirring victory at Colts’ new Lucas Oil Stadium… Orton starts 15 of 16 games and approaches 3000 yards passing… Bears finish 9-7, miss playoffs after season ending loss to Houston

2007… at San Diego… Bears lose 14-3

Adam Archuleta, Bears disaster

SIGNIFICANT DEBUTS: Adam “Frightened Eyes” Archuleta

BEARS FIRST POINTS: Robbie Gould field goal

MEMORABLE PLAYS: None

HOW IT WENT DOWN: Bears lose Mike Brown and Dusty Dvoracek to season-ending injuries… 3-0 lead in 4th quarter knocked away by Tomlinson to Gates TD… Chargers other TD from Tomlinson too?… first offensive touchdown comes in Week 2 on tackle eligible pass to backup offensive lineman John St. Clair… defending NFC champs play tough road game at fellow SB contender Chargers, but “SB XLII Preview” is for naught as Bears stumble to 7-9 finish…

2006… at Green Bay… Bears post shutout, 26-0

Bernard Berrian and the Bears offense was flying high in 2006

SIGNIFICANT DEBUTS: The Amazing Devin Hester… Danieal Manning

BEARS FIRST POINTS: Grossman to Berrian deep TD (49 yards?) (5th offensive play?)

MEMORABLE PLAYS: First Rex to Berrian bomb of 2006 season… first Hester touchdown on 4th quarter punt return (84 yards?)… D. Manning INT

HOW IT WENT DOWN: Bears pounce on hapless Packers for tone-setting win en route to 7-0 start, 13-3 season, and first SB appearance in 21 years… Brett Favre opens season sad and embarrassed

2005… at Washington… Bears lose loser-fest 9-7

35 games after the 2005 season opener, Cedric Benson fumbled in the Super Bowl

SIGNIFICANT DEBUTS: rookies Kyle Orton, Cedric Benson (turned out to be not so significant), and Chris Harris… offensive linemen Fred Miller and Roberto Garza… Muhsin Muhammad

BEARS FIRST POINTS: Thomas Jones rushing TD

MEMORABLE PLAYS: Lance Briggs knocks Redskins QB Patrick Ramsay out of game with monstrous clothesline

HOW IT WENT DOWN: Orton plays well enough for Bears to win, but three straight false start penalties from veterans Tait, Miller, and Kreutz leads to loss… Bears whip Detroit 38-6 in Week 2 before dropping consecutive Ohio battles to Bengals and Browns… after 1-3 start, Bears win eight straight to finish 11-5 and capture division title

2004… against Detroit (at home? Pretty sure)… Bears lose (20-16?)

Rex (seen here vs. Detroit in 2008) was up and down in the 2004 season opener

SIGNIFICANT DEBUTS: Lovie Smith… Thomas Jones… Adewale Ogunleye… Rex Grossman as starting quarterback… offensive linemen Ruben Brown and John Tait… rookies Tommie Harris, Tank Johnson, Nathan Vasher… did Berrian play in this one?

BEARS FIRST POINTS: don’t remember

MEMORABLE PLAYS: I think this was the game where Detroit blocked a field goal at the end of the half and returned it 245 yards for a touchdown (Tracy Scroggins maybe involved?)…

HOW IT WENT DOWN: Rex throws pick in endzone on Bears final play… Bears beat Green Bay in Week 2, lose close one in Minnesota in Week 3 as Grossman goes down with season-ending elbow injury on diving touchdown, thus setting off The Great Chicago Bears Quarterback Debacle of 2004, starting with Jonathan Quinn

2003… against San Francisco (at home?)… Bears get whipped 49-7

Kordell Stewart, (center), seen here leading a professional football team

SIGNIFICANT DEBUTS: Desmond Clark… rookies Briggs and Tillman… Kordell Stewart

BEARS FIRST POINTS: Dez Clark TD pass from Kordell Stewart (pretty sure)

MEMORABLE PLAYS: Something demoralizing by the 49ers

HOW IT WENT DOWN: Bears thoroughly embarrassed in Week 1 thrashing… yuck… season ends not as horribly as it started and features the classic Peanut Tillman-Randy Moss pick

2002… “home” against Minnesota, in Champaign… Bears win close one (27-23?)

"Having accomplished all of my professional football goals in four seasons, I did not see the need for a lengthy NFL career..."

SIGNIFICANT DEBUTS: Alex Brown

BEARS FIRST POINTS: don’t remember

MEMORABLE PLAYS: Mike Brown game-changing pick… Miller to Terrell game-winning TD… Culpepper to Moss TD (probably)

HOW IT WENT DOWN: Mike Brown picks off horrific Daunte Culpepper pass that would have iced the game for Vikings, leading to game-winning TD pass, Jim Miller to David Terrell… defending NFC Central champs squeak out Week 2 win over Falcons in similar fashion: David Terrell game-winner, huge blunder for opposition (missed game-winning field goal for Falcons kicker)… season falls apart in Week 3 as Bears blow 20-0 lead to Saints, the first of (eight?) straight losses, a gajillion injuries, and 4-12 finish

2001… against Baltimore (on road, pretty sure)… Bears lose relatively close one (17-9 I think)

Run Keith! Run!

SIGNIFICANT DEBUTS: THE WALL – Ted Washington and Keith Traylor… rookie Anthony Thomas

BEARS FIRST POINTS: don’t remember

MEMORABLE PLAYS: Something James Allen did?

HOW IT WENT DOWN: Bears play pretty good ball against defending Super Bowl champs… 9/11 knocks out Week 2 game against Jags… Bears return with win over Vikings, demote Matthews/Allen for Miller/Thomas, ride run-stuffing point-nullifying defense to shocking 13 win season and division championship

2000… against Minnesota (on road, pretty sure)… Bears blow big lead, lose 30-27

Cade McNown, seen here throwing a football

SIGNIFICANT DEBUTS: Brian Urlacher/Mike Brown

BEARS FIRST POINTS: don’t remember

MEMORABLE PLAYS: none that mattered

HOW IT WENT DOWN: All I remember about this one is Vikings’ second-year QB Daunte Culpepper in his first NFL start DESTROYING the Bears in second half, after Bears build big lead (20-7?)… Cade McNown was also actually pretty good

1999… home against Kansas City… Bears win with 14 points (14-3? 14-7?)

Professional what?

SIGNIFICANT DEBUTS: Dick Jauron… Cade McNown… the return of Shane Matthews

BEARS FIRST POINTS: don’t remember, though it might have been Curtis Enis’ TD run which he followed up with a flip into the endzone

MEMORABLE PLAYS: The Enis TD

HOW IT WENT DOWN: Bears win at Soldier Field on September 12th as the Silverstein brothers celebrate Mike’s birthday from the north endzone… rookie Cade McNown and coach Dick Jauron launch the unsuccessful “play Cade a few series every game” plan… 1999 goes down as a memorable Bears season, with the passing of Walter Payton, the Bryan Robinson blocked field goal against Green Bay the following week, The Marcus Robinson Season, and The Jim Miller Games (422 yards and a loss to Minnesota, 357 yards and a win vs. San Diego)… Bears start 3-2 and finish a surprisingly disappointing 6-10 after consecutive four win seasons…

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