All-Time Record: The Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers all-time series is now led by the Packers with a 99-95-6 mark (Including playoffs where each team is 1-1). Yes, the Packers and Bears rivalry is that close.
Before 2017, the Packers last led the rivalry in 1933. Indeed, they’ve been steadily falling behind and then clawing their way back since The Great Depression. Green Bay currently holds a two-game winning streak over their rivals from the south.
These old foes are separated by just four wins, and, fittingly, have played more times than any other teams in NFL history. It is the oldest rivalry in professional football and despite the fact that the Bears have twice held a 24-game lead in the series (1960 and the latter being as recent as 1992). However the Packers have the lead now. Packers fans can thank Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers for leading the charge to take back control of the rivalry, against all odds.
We at packershistory.com truly believe that it is important to know your enemy — especially this one.
Separated by just 205 miles, the two teams are each others’ nearest geographical NFC North competitors, although they might as well be worlds away. Chicago is the Midwest’s bustling jewel; a city of nearly 10 million people known for it’s endless attractions and famed skyline. Green Bay, however, is a slow-paced town with humble, but unique attractions and proud blue-collar workers.
For all of their differences, they do share some similarities. Both cities reside on the coast of beautiful Lake Michigan and both cities have an unending passion for football…and brats and cheese and beer. This rivalry is a true border-war and is as culturally significant as a semi-annual sporting event can be in this country.
What’s specifically unique about this historic rivalry is that a definite respect remains despite the hatred. No matter the record, the games always mean so much to the fans on both sides. Even in a losing season, this game still matters.
The Bears dominated the early years of the rivalry as they became known as the “Monsters of the Midway.” But little Green Bay never backed down and eventually became known as “Titletown.” Decades later, the Packers started to even-out the rivalry’s all-time record thanks to quarterbacks Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.
Proximity, history, shared-success, competitive balance and polar opposite approaches to Midwestern living keep this rivalry alive and well. But the array of characters throughout the years on the playing field and the institutional hatred, and respect, among the players and fans help fan the flames as well.
“(Ray) Nitschke tried to kill me,” Ditka told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He tried to kill everybody. That’s the way he played. He was a great football player. You had to fight fire with fire. You had to try to kill him. Every once in awhile you would get a shot in and he’d really get mad. Man, he was tough. It’s just the way it was.”
Yes, the hatred/respect is real.
The Packers and the Bears are the NFL’s oldest rivals, dating back to 1921. And these foes are the only two teams in the NFL today to feature a single letter on their helmets. They both have since the 1960s.
The Packers have the most World Championships in NFL history (13). The Bears have the second-most with nine.
The Bears have the most Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees in NFL history (30). The Packers have the second-most with 26.
The Bears have the most wins all-time in NFL history (769). The Packers have the second-most with 756 (Green Bay has played 34 less regular season games). These numbers will be updated at the conclusion of the 2020 regular season.
Notice a trend here? Yeah, this rivalry is historic. You can’t even begin to talk about NFL history without starting right here. Both teams have been in their cities longer than any other teams in the league and some of the most mythical names in football history have experienced the rivalry.
Without franchise founders Halas (Bears) and Lambeau (Packers) there might not even be an NFL. Any team from the NFC that wins the Super Bowl earns the right to hoist both of their trophies as conference and league champions.
You can go back and forth trading the names of transcendent legends that wore the “G” or “C” in a way no other rivalry can. Lambeau and Halas. Nitschke and Butkus. Hutson and Luckman. Lombardi and Ditka. Starr and Sayers. Favre and Payton. Canadeo and Grange. Adderley and Nagurski. White and Singletary. Hornung and George. Rodgers and Urlacher. And you could keep going if you wanted.
No other rivalry can come close to those names, to that assemblage of immortal beings.
Specifically, the Nitschke versus Butkus dichotomy of the late-1960s was incredibly interesting. Both are each franchise’s top middle linebackers of all-time and they played in the same era. The 1960s is the decade when football became the country’s favorite sport; it was the beginning of modern-day football.
Nitschke and Butkus were equal and opposite forces anchoring each side of the game’s oldest rivalry during that transformative decade. Interestingly, both were from Chicago and had December birthdays. Nitschke was a hard-hitting symbol of fear that opponents hated, while Butkus was equally as feared, but more refined in his play. Butkus was First Team All-Pro five times, while Nitschke held the honor twice. Although Nitschke intercepted three more passes and won five more rings than Butkus.
Both personified football and the game’s ultimate rivalry. They were the black and blue of the black and blue division; they were the perfect link between professional football’s ruthless past and larger-than-life character driven future.
Getting back to the fans, both sides of this rivalry have eras they look back at with such fondness. In Illinois you’ll hear the phrase ’85 Bears and in Wisconsin you’ll hear talk about “Lombardi’s Packers.” However, the Packers do have a few more modern glory years to refer to.
The relatively unchanged jerseys of both franchises, dating back to the days before color television, adds to the mystique of the rivalry. We think it’s an underrated facet of the rivalry. This is especially true as more and more franchises keep rebranding in a transparent attempt to sell more jerseys. Many of the oldest grainy images of NFL football, on partially-salvaged tapes, depict either of these franchises playing on mud-laden fields in similar uniforms. Fields that hold too much history to adequately summarize, we should mention.
The two stadiums these franchises call home, Lambeau Field and Soldier Field, hold so much history. You can’t talk about this rivalry without these stadiums. As almost all other NFL teams build new stadiums, including domes with endless shiny amenities, these two franchises thankfully continue to hold tightly to their historic pasts. Domes be damned!
An observation I’ve made before, when writing for nflspinzone.com is:
“The Bears play in Soldier Field, the oldest stadium in the NFL, which opened in 1924. Although the Bears have only played there since 1971. The Packers play at Lambeau Field, a true mecca for all NFL fans, and have since 1957. These two stadiums are as historic as buildings get in professional football. They offer visions of the past from every remarkably intimate seat. Without these two teams, without this rivalry, without these stadiums, the NFL would lose its most vibrant connection to the past.”
And that connection to the past is the comforting reminder that not all things are forgotten. Some things remain, like this rivalry. Plus, Packers fans are quite proud of being called (and wearing) Cheeseheads.
Where did that come from? An insult from Chicago sports fans hurled at Wisconsinites over the years. Instead of getting offended, Wisconsin sports fans ran with it.
Of course, Wisconsinites did punch back with the invention of the insult “FIBs.” If you don’t know, look it up! Wisconsinites sure like to complain about the way the Illinois population drives and some are bothered about rich “FIBs” buying-up lakefront property in the Dairy State. Chicagoans probably complain about Wisconsin tourists walking too slowly on Michigan Ave’s sidewalk or attempting to stand on the elevator after exciting the Red Line from time to time, too, so we’ll call it even.
At least both sides can whole-heartedly agree on grilling quality meats and drinking beer on Sunday, right?
Now lets get back to the field of play. This rivalry has evolved so much over the years, so here’s a sampling of some of the biggest events.
Timeline of Major Rivalry Moments:
- First Game: November 27, 1921. The Bears (then called the Chicago Stanleys) defeated the Packers 20-0 at Cubs Park in Chicago.
- Ejection for Fighting: November 23, 1924. Bears’ Frank Hanny and Packers’ Tillie Voss threw punches and were both ejected; it was the first time in NFL history that players were suspended for fighting. The Bears won 3-0 at Cubs Park in Chicago. The anger and intensity within this rivalry has been around from the very beginning.
- First Packers Win: September 27, 1925. The Packers won 14-10 at City Stadium in Green Bay.
- First Game at Wrigley Field: November 21, 1926. The Bears won 19-13 in Chicago at one of the most famous venues in sport.
- Packers Atop The Rivalry: November 9, 1930. The Packers win their seventh consecutive game against the Bears, going ahead in the all-time series for the first time with a record of 8-7-3. They would overtake the series again in 1931 and 1932, but wouldn’t regain their lead in the series again until 2017.
- Bears Storm Back: December 11, 1932. The Bears begin a six game winning streak, taking a firm grip on the all-time series. That is, until one of the best players in league history arrived in the rivalry (see next bullet point).
- Don Hutson’s First Touchdown: September 22, 1935. Don Hutson caught his first career touchdown of his transcendent Hall of Fame career. His 83-yard touchdown was the lone score of the game. The Packers won 7-0.
- First Playoff Game: December 14, 1941. The Bears won 33-14 at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
- Lambeau’s Last Stand: November 6, 1949. In Curly Lambeau’s final game against Chicago as Green Bay’s head coach, the Bears spoil the party at Wrigley Field and won 24-3.
- First Game at Lambeau Field: September 29, 1957. The Packers won 21-17 in Green Bay; it was the first ever game at Lambeau Field, called “New” City Stadium at the time.
- Lombardi’s First Game as Head Coach: September 27, 1959. The Packers beat the Bears at City Stadium in Vince Lombardi’s first game as head coach and first game against the Bears.
- Largest Packers Victory: September 30, 1962. The Packers, coached by Vince Lombardi, shutout George Halas’ Bears 49-0. Green Bay would go on to win the NFL title that year, going 2-0 against the Bears. Side note: Halas spent the offseason obsessing over beating the Packers and his Bears responded by beating the Packers twice in 1963 on their way to an NFL title of their own.
- Enter Gales Sayers and Dick Butkus: The Bears drafted stellar rookies Sayers and Butkus in 1965. October 3, 1965. The Packers defeat the Bears 23-14 despite Sayers’ two touchdowns. October 31, 1965. The Bears get revenge and beat Green Bay 31-10 as Sayers scores once. Both rookies would be named First Team All-Pro.
- Bart Starr’s Farewell/Vince Lombardi’s Death: November 15, 1970. Starr wins his final start (and complete game played) against the Chicago Bears in a 20-19 victory on a game-winning rushing touchdown by the quarterback. This also happened to be the first Packers-Bears game at Lambeau Field following Vince Lombardi passing away. The Packers won 20-19.
- First Game at Solider Field: November 7, 1971. The Packers won 17-14 in Chicago. The Bears have played at Soldier Field ever since.
- Only Game in Milwaukee: November 10, 1974. The Packers won 20-3 at Milwaukee County Stadium in Milwaukee.
- Walter Payton’s Second Career Touchdown: November 9, 1975. Walter Payton scores his second career touchdown and first against the Packers in a 27-14 Bears victory. He’d go on to score 19 touchdowns against the Packers, the most of any opponent.
- First Overtime Game: September 7, 1980. The Packers won 12-6 at Lambeau Filed in Green Bay. In overtime, Packers kicker Chester Marcol had a field goal attempt blocked by the Bears’ Alan Page. However the ball deflected back to Marcol and he ran it in for a touchdown and the dramatic victory.
- Largest Bears Victory: December 7, 1980. The Bears beat the Packers 61-7 at Solider Field in Chicago. Then coach Bart Starr even ran across the field to confront Bears coach Neil Armstrong for continuing to blitz even in the game’s final minutes.
- Only Season Without Playing: In 1982, the strike-shortened season kept the Packers from playing the Bears for the first time since 1920.
- George Halas’ Death: During the 1983 season George Halas passed away. December 18, 1983: The first Packers-Bears game in Chicago following Halas’ death, the Bears defeated Green Bay 23-21 and kept the Packers out of the playoffs.
- The ’85 Bears: The 1985 Chicago Bears go 2-0 against the Packers during their 15-1 season en route to winning Super Bowl XX. The Fridge: October 21, 1985. Defensive lineman William Perry scored his first career touchdown, at the direction of head coach Mike Ditka. Perry was then named “The Fridge” as the Bears won 23-7 at Soldier Field in Chicago. Horse Manure: November 10, 1985. The Packers left horse manure in the Bears’ locker room at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. The strategy was ineffective; Chicago won the game 16-10.
- Charles Martin’s Hit List: November 23, 1986 Packers nose tackle Charles Martin displayed a “Hit List” of Bears players he wanted to knock out of the game (on a towel he played with). At least two full seconds after Bears quarterback Jim McMahon threw an interception during the game, Martin picked him up and illegally slammed him to the ground at Soldier Field in Chicago. This was a moment where the Packers truly crossed the line. McMahon would miss the rest of the season and the 14-2 Bears, heavily-favorited to repeat as Super Bowl Champions, would fail to make it back to the big game. The Packers lost the game 12-10.
- “Instant Replay Game”: November 5, 1989. The Packers defeated the Bears 14-13 on a last-second touchdown pass from Don Majkowski to Sterling Sharpe. The play was originally called a touchdown, but the referee claimed Majkowski passed the line of scrimmage. The refs went to video replay to determine if the touchdown was legal and came to the conclusion that is was. Bears head coach Mike Ditka ordered that an asterisk be placed next to the game result on all team publications.
- Favre’s Heroics: October 31, 1994. Packers quarterback Brett Favre played with a hurt hip, but led the Packers to a 33-6 blowout over the Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago in the rain; kicking off a 10-game winning streak for the Packers over the Bears. His Iron Man legend begins to grow.
- Favre’s Heroics Part II: November 12, 1995. Brett Favre played with a severely sprained ankle, in a game with a division lead on the line, and threw five touchdown passes in a 35-28 win at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Iron Man legends grows larger.
- Walter Payton’s Ghost: November 7, 1999. In the game following Walter Payton’s death, on a day when Brett Favre set an NFL record for consecutive starts for a quarterback, the Bears won after Bryan Robinson blocked a last-second field goal — who claimed Payton lifted him up.
- Game in Champaign, IL: October 7, 2002. The first and only time the Packers have ever played the Bears on the road not in the city of Chicago (during Soldier Field’s renovations). Packers won 34-21.
- Lovie Smith’s First Press Conference: 2004. In his first press conference as head coach of the Chicago Bears Smith said, “The number one goal is to beat Green Bay.” Winning a Super Bowl wasn’t the number one goal. That tells you everything you need to know about this rivalry.
- Coldest Game in Chicago: December 22, 2008. Appropriately the Packers were in Chicago for the coldest game in Bears history (2 degrees). Chicago won 20-17.
- Conference Championship Game: January 23, 2011. The Packers won 21-14 on the road at Soldier Field in Chicago, en route to winning Super Bowl XLV (just the second playoff game in rivalry’s history). Big Plays: Aaron Rodgers’ tackle of Brian Urlacher after throwing an interception; Aaron Rodgers’ running touchdown on a naked bootleg; B.J. Raji’s interception returned for a touchdown — which he then deemed himself “The Freezer” a nod to William Perry of the ’85 Bears.
- 4th and 8 Game: December 29, 2013. Aaron Rodgers came back from injury (sustained nearly two months earlier against the Bears) to lead the Packers to a dramatic 33-28 victory over the Bears, in Chicago at Soldier Field. The winner of that game was to be crowned NFC North Champions as well as playoff bound — with the Packers down by one point, Rodgers threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb with on fourth and 8 with just .38 seconds left on the clock. John Kuhn’s block on Julius Peppers on the play remains legendary.
- Rodgers’ First Half: November 9, 2014. Aaron Rodgers ties an NFL record by throwing for six touchdowns in the first half of a 55-14 victory over the Bears at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
- Bears Spoil Favre’s Party: November 26, 2015. Brett Favre came back to Green Bay to see his retired No. 4 unveiled at Lambeau Field. Bart Starr, despite battling numerous health concerns, made it back for the halftime ceremony. The Bears won the game 17-13.
- All-Time Series is Finally Tied-Up: December 18, 2016. The Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears to even-up the legendary rivalry. Mason Crosby kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired after Aaron Rodgers completed a 60-yard pass to Jordy Nelson on third and 11, with less than thirty seconds left in the game. The completion was Rodgers’ longest of the season.
- Packers Take Back the Lead in the All-Time Series: September 28, 2017. Aaron Rodgers thew four touchdown passes en route to a 35-14 win in front of the home crowd at Lambeau Field. When the final whistle blew, the Packers had their first lead in the rivalry since 1933 — a moment 84 years in the making.
- Largest Fourth Quarter Comeback in Packers History: September 9, 2018. To kickoff the Packers’ 2018 season in (the team’s 100th season) Aaron Rodgers came back from an injury in the second half (that he was carted off the field for in the first half) to lead the Packers back from a 20 point deficit and 17 point fourth quarter deficit. Khalil Mack dominated the first half, Rodgers dominated the second. Matt Nagy’s first game as Chicago’s head coach was a loss.
- Packers and Bears kick off the NFL’s 100th Season: September 5, 2019. The NFL’s centennial season was started in a matchup of the oldest rivalry in professional football (instead of letting the defending champion Patriots host the season opening game per usual). The NFL understood the importance of their 100th season and the importance of this rivalry on that history. The league choosing Packers/Bears to showcase their sport to kick off the 100th season shows you how important this rivalry truly is. The game was won 10-3 by the Packers in sloppy, or perhaps throwback, effort. New Packers coach Matt LaFleur won his first game as head coach, the first to win his debut against the Bears since Vince Lombardi.
- Packers and Bears’ 200th All-Time Regular Season Matchup: December 15, 2019. Green Bay beat Chicago 21-13. By the end of that day the Packers had clinched a playoff spot and the Bears had been eliminated from playoff contention.
Rest assured Packers (and Bears) fans. There are plenty more moments to be added to this list in the coming decades. That is the beauty of this rivalry; these franchises carry so much history that their match-ups will always be relevant.
Learn more about the NFL’s greatest rivalry on Page 2