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Flashback: Eagles fly into fog  
 
By Dave Richard
NFL.com

(Sept. 28, 2004) -- You probably didn't see when the Chicago Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles met in a postseason battle on New Year's Eve 1988. That's not to say you weren't old enough or not at home to watch it. You could have sat in the stands on that afternoon in Chicago and you still wouldn't have seen it.

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Soldier Field is literally within walking distance of Lake Michigan. On a clear day, you can see across the lake to Indiana from the stadium as well as a great view of Chicago's skyline. Almost the perfect setting, football fans expected to watch a playoff game under sunny skies.

But mother nature had different plans -- but not until the second quarter.

The Bears got started early as quarterback Mike Tomczak tossed a 64-yard pass to receiver Dennis McKinnon to give the Bears a 7-0 lead with just under 12 minutes to play. McKinnon was open due to some blown coverage by defensive back Roynell Young and finished the day with 108 yards receiving.

The Eagles roared right back. Led by a young, mobile, strong-armed Randall Cunningham (whom current Eagles passer/runner Donovan McNabb still draws comparison to), Philly drove to the Bears 26-yard line and then stalled. A Luis Zendejas field-goal attempt was wide left from 43 yards.

But the Eagles got the ball right back thanks to a Seth Joyner interception. This time, the Eagles put up three points, but not before being penalized twice. On both plays, Philadelphia was in the end zone when the flags were thrown.

This was the view from the sidelines during the 'Fog Bowl.' 
This was the view from the sidelines during the 'Fog Bowl.'  
The Bears' Kevin Butler came up short on a 51-yard field goal on the ensuing drive, opening the door for Philadelphia to put together a drive of its own. That one also stalled, but Zendejas was good from 29 yards, cutting the Bears' lead to one early in the second quarter.

Two possessions later, the Bears capped off a 44-yard drive with a Neal Anderson 4-yard touchdown run, making it 14-6.

The game had a much different "look" to it after that.

With the Bears up 17-6 midway through the second quarter, courtesy of a 46-yard field goal by Butler, a thick, grey fog steamrolled into Soldier Field and practically ended up sitting on the field for the rest of the game.

"I thought it was snow," Eagles wide receiver Gregg Garrity told the Chicago Tribune. "I don't think a blizzard would have been this bad. You couldn't see what was going on in the backfield. It was eerie."

"It looked like a regular game to me," Bears QB Jim McMahon told the Tribune. "Everything was a big fog."

Fans in the stands were dumbfounded -- they obviously paid good money to see a playoff game. They could have stayed home to not see a football game. On the other hand, those fans got a first-hand look at NFL history. The game went down in league annals as the "Fog Bowl."

"Today was more frustrating than any time as a player," then-CBS analyst Terry Bradshaw, who was doing his first NFL playoff telecast, told The Washington Post. "I could not do my job ... We looked at one another and said, 'Can you believe this? We worked so hard to get here and look at this.' "

The Eagles spent the rest of the afternoon driving on the Bears, but only coming up with field goals. Despite Cunningham's 407-yard passing effort, which was incredible since he couldn't see the offensive line in front of him once the fog came in, Zendejas was responsible for all 12 of the Eagles' points.

The National Weather Service eventually explained the situation: Cold air that was over the lake blew into a path of warm air on land, covering Chicago's lakefront. Local weathermen compared the fog as the equivalent of having clouds on the ground.

Despite the weather, there were two positives for the Bears. One, they won 20-12 and earned the right to play host the 49ers in the NFC championship game. The other, less film for coaches to study and nitpick.

"We were all relieved," center Jay Hilgenberg told the Tribune. "With the fog, there won't be any films for the coaches to grade."

 
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