Fans at Soldier Field on Dec. 31, 1988, settled in to watch a divisional playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles in unexpected comfort.
There was bright sunshine, little wind and temperatures heading for the 40s.
Until, a sudden slap in the face.
“A fog that rolled in from the lake late in the first half left the spectators to stare into a gray shroud from which the players would emerge with maddening infrequency,” Tribune reporter Phil Hersh wrote at the time.
Few of the 65,534 spectators were able to see the final moments of the Bears’ 20-12 victory due to the thick haze.
The “Fog Bowl” — which marked the first time the Bears ever played on New Year’s Eve — is now one of the franchise’s most memorable games.
The Bears will play on Dec. 31 for the fourth time Sunday. They face the Atlanta Falcons at noon at Soldier Field.
Here’s a look back at the results for each of the team’s previous year-ending or year-beginning games.
How the Bears have fared: Record
How the Bears have fared: Opponents and results
How the Bears have fared: Points scored
How the Bears have fared: Memorable game moments
New Year’s Eve
Dec. 31, 1988: The “Fog Bowl” is not only the lone Bears win on New Year’s Eve, it also marked the first time in three seasons the Bears advanced past their first playoff game.
Mistakes by the Eagles — two touchdowns called back by penalties in the first 21 minutes and a dropped touchdown pass — allowed the Bears to preserve a lead before the fog rolled in. Still, the Bears weren’t perfect. Quarterback Mike Tomczak threw three passes for interceptions and was flattened by Reggie White late in the third quarter and forced out of the game due to injury.
Kicker Kevin Butler made a 46-yard field goal but missed one at 51 yards. Eagles coach and former Bears defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan refused to shake hands with Bears coach Mike Ditka.
New Year’s Day
Jan. 1, 1995: The Bears scored an improbable road victory — 35-18 — over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL wild-card game after losing twice to them during the regular season.
It was the Bears’ first playoff victory since Jan. 6, 1990, and first road playoff triumph since Dec. 30, 1984. Vikings quarterback Warren Moon, who wore a brace on his sprained left knee, finished with 292 yards on 29-of-52 passing, but threw two interceptions and was erratic much of the game. Bears end Trace Armstrong sacked Moon twice.
Other Bears defenders with big plays: Barry Minter had his first interception of the year, Mark Carrier broke up a probable touchdown pass to Qadry Ismail and Kevin Miniefield iced the game when he picked up Amp Lee’s fumble and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown.
Sources: Tribune reporting and archives; Pro Football Reference