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Birds and Bears, Games and Faces

By Ryan Shute, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

The 41st meeting between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chicago Bears will take place at Soldier Field in Chicago this Monday night at 8:30pm.

Through the first 40 meetings, Chicago holds the series lead with a record of 10-29-1. The Fog Bowl has been overdone so this will be its only mention. Here are some other notable matchups.

The revived Monsters of the Midway led by Brian Urlacher dominated the 2001 regular season with a 13-3 record, earning Chicago a playoff spot for the first time since 1994. In the NFC Divisional Round, Chicago was punched in the mouth by the fearless visiting Eagles team that came into Soldier Field and captured the win.

The Birds held the Bears to just 184 yards of total offense but the highlight of the game came when safety Damon Moore picked off Chicago quarterback Jim Miller in the 2nd quarter. During the interception return, Eagles defensive end Hugh Douglas delivered a vicious hit on Miller, driving him into the ground, knocking him out of the game and setting the tone. Final score: Eagles 33, Chicago 19.

The last Monday night game between the two clubs took place during Week 9 of the 2011 season. The Eagles were nursing a 24-20 lead to begin the fourth quarter until Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler delivered a five-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Earl Bennett. Bennett torched the Birds secondary for a total of 95 receiving yards to go along with his touchdown. A Robbie Gould field goal later in the game would cap the scoring and give the Bears a 30-24 victory.

In the most recent matchup, which came in Week 16 of the 2013 season, featured the two teams both really needing a win to improve their chances for a postseason bid. Chicago was an offensive juggernaut and came into the matchup having scored 406 points and would finish with 445 points at years end ranking 2nd in the NFL.

But it wasn’t the Chicago offense that was doing most of the scoring, it was the Eagles. The explosion was led by the rushing tandem of LeSean McCoy -- 133 yards, two touchdowns -- and Bryce Brown -- 115 yards and one touchdown -- along with the contributions of quarterback Nick Foles. Foles played a near perfect game, completing 21-of-25 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns. The Birds big win by the score of 54-11 got them one step closer to clinching the NFC East and marked the only game in NFL history to result in a 54-11 final score.

Over the years, there have been some personalities that have been part of both the Eagles and Bears. The names that come to mind that were also Birds are more notable as being members of the Bears. But not your ordinary members of Bears, members of the 1985 Bears.

Mike Ditka began his Hall of Fame tight end career with Chicago, achieving Pro Bowl status five times and All-Pro honors twice. The Bears thought he was finished after the 1966 season, in which he had career lows in receptions with 32 and receiving yards with 378. Ditka was shipped to Philadelphia and continued to decline, only playing in 20 games with 39 catches for 385 yards and four touchdowns in two seasons. Ditka did, however, have a revival squeezing out another four years with the hated Dallas Cowboys and helping them get a Super Bowl in 1971.

Ditka eventually entered the world of coaching and was the head coach of the Super Bowl Champion '85 Bears. But the man that gets most of the credit for the '85 Bears from a coaching aspect was the architect of the defense.

Buddy Ryan was an innovative defensive coordinator that introduced the 46 defense and was begged by the Bears players to the ownership to be retained on the coaching staff during the head coaching change from Neill Armstrong to Ditka. Ryan’s success as a defensive coordinator, especially in 1985 where the Bears only gave up 198 points and capped off their Super Bowl XX win by the score of 46-10 over the Patriots, led him to become the head coach of the Eagles in 1986.

Ryan’s defensive style, outspoken personality, and having a winning regular season record of 43-35-1 made him one of the most beloved head coaches in Philadelphia history despite his lack of playoff success. Unfortunately, the world recently lost Buddy this past June, but Buddy’s legacy will live on forever.

William "the Refrigerator" Perry spent parts of his final two NFL seasons in Eagle green, helping an Eagles rushing defense to finish just outside the top 10 as the 11th best rushing defense in the NFL. Of course, Perry is more known for his career as a Bear, where he accumulated 456 tackles and 28.5 sacks over nine seasons. Perry is also remembered for running the ball, as he scored a one-yard rushing touchdown in Super Bowl XX in addition to his regular season career numbers of eight rushes for five yards and two touchdowns.

Super Bowl XX MVP and Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent also finished his career with the Birds. Dent was called into Philadelphia in 1997 to help the pass rush and although he didn’t quite reach double-digit sack totals as he had many times in Chicago, he did contribute 4.5 sacks in 15 games as a part-time player.

Besides being what seemed like a real whacko who wore headbands with the commissioner’s name written on it, quarterback Jim McMahon was real sharp and was the perfect guy to lead the '85 Bears offense and was solid for the three years he was in Philadelphia. In the infamous 1991 season, in which the Eagles used a total of five different quarterbacks, McMahon started 11 games going 8-3 with 2,239 passing yards and 12 touchdowns. The Eagles would miss the playoffs along with the San Francisco 49ers despite both clubs finishing 10-6.

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