100 Years of the Chicago Bears: The 2000s


The first season of a new millennium was not a good one for the Bears under coach Dick Jauron, as they went just 5-11 in the year 2000. But one positive note was the arrival of Brian Urlacher, who captured the NFL's defensive rookie of the year award. And then things got exciting in 2001.Nobody saw 13-3 coming from this team, but they won the NFC Central division and sent five players to the Pro Bowl. This was the year of the consecutive Mike Brown interception overtime walk-offs, the defensive tackle tandem of Ted Washington and Keith Traylor, and the jarring loss to the Eagles in their only playoff game.

2002 was memorable only because they played home games in Champaign while Soldier Field was being upgraded, and Lovie Smith was brought in to coach in 2004.  Smith would lead them to divisional title in 2005 with quarterbacks Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton before falling to the Panthers in the playoffs.  It set the stage for 2006, when they won another division crown and returned to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1985, a game they would lose to the Colts 29-17.

There were no more playoff appearances for them the remainder of the 2000s, but the era will be remembered for such things as the breakout of return man Devin Hester, the Nathan Vasher missed field goal touchdown return, and their improbable comeback win at Arizona led by Urlacher and Charles Tillman.