Greatest Games in Bears History

Bears-28 Vikings-7 Metropolitan Stadium The Bears came into Minneapolis in the second week of the 1963 season prepared to face an exciting young Vikings team. The Bears were coming off a hard-fought 10-3 opening day win over the Green Bay Packers, while the upstart Vikings were charged up after a big victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Norm Van Brocklin's Vikings were led by up-and-coming young players such as quarterbacks Fran Tarkenton and Ron VanderKelen, running backs Tommy Mason and Bill Brown and receiver Paul Flatley. The largest crowd to ever see a pro football game in Minnesota was on hand, ready to make life rough for George Halas' Bears.

The Vikings stormed out of the gate after the opening kickoff, gaining 28 yards on the ground in their first six plays from scrimmage. Then the Bears' stoic defense took over. Mason fumbled, defensive back Rosey Taylor recovered and returned the ball to Minnesota's 26-yard line. Bill Wade threw a 24-yard scoring pass to Ronnie Bull for the quick lead. Bears, 7-0.

On their next possession, Tarkenton was picked off by Bennie McRae. The game was basically over early in the second quarter. "We moved the ball, then we made every mistake possible," an angry Van Brocklin said after the game.

Nonetheless, "Papa Bear" was impressed. "Van Brocklin is a perfectionist," he said in the locker room. "He's a little too critical, I think. Those Vikings played a tough game. They're going to have a lot of fun up here. The Vikings can beat anybody, any Sunday."

The Bears, who went on that season to win the 1963 NFL championship, came up with two big plays on touchdown passes from Wade to Mike Ditka, who was perhaps motivated by Van Brocklin's pregame comments that questioned the Hall of Fame tight end's speed. Wade completed 23 of 32 passes for 250 yards, and defenders such as Bill George, Ed O'Bradovich and Davey Whitsell made the day a long one for the Vikings.

Ditka enjoyed a big afternoon after a quiet preseason. "You know, you need luck in football," he said. "On my first touchdown the pass split those defenders by an inch. On the second touchdown, it was very odd. We put that play in just for that game, and yet they reacted to it so quickly. But Bill (Wade) deserves the credit. He throws almost the perfect pass each time."

One bit of excitement remained when VanderKelen entered the game with a little more than two minutes remaining. The rookie from Wisconsin, the hero of the 1963 Rose Bowl, drove the Vikings down the field in an impressive game-ending drive -- until Hall of Famer Doug Atkins busted through and sacked VanderKelen for an 11-yard loss. Game over.

Bear Report Top Stories