Timeline: Lovie Smith’s tenure with the Bears
BY MARK POTASH Sun-Times December 31, 2012 11:08AM
NEW BEARS COACH LOVIE SMITH
Updated: January 7, 2013 3:54PM
Jan. 15, 2004 — Lovie Smith, defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams, is hired as the Bears’ head coach. He replaced Dick Jauron, who was fired after a 7-9 season in 2003 — his fourth without a playoff berth in five seasons.
Sept. 19, 2004 — After losing Smith’s debut to the Lions 20-16 at Soldier Field, the Bears intercept Brett Favre twice in a 21-10 victory over the Packers at Lambeau Field. Favre had beaten the Bears 18 of 20 times coming into that game.
Jan. 2, 2005 — Favre and Craig Nall combine for three touchdown passes in a 31-14 victory over the Bears at Soldier Field as the Bears finish Smith’s first season at 5-11. They lost six of their last seven games. Brian Urlacher missed seven games due to injuries — the Bears lost all seven games.
Dec. 4, 2005 — Nathan Vasher returns an interception of Favre 45 yards for a touchdown to clinch a 19-7 victory over the Packers at Soldier Field for the Bears’ sixth consecutive win to move to 9-3. The Bears would finish 11-5 to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
Jan. 15, 2006 — After resting several regulars in a 34-10 loss to the Vikings in the regular-season finale, the Bears lose to the Carolina Panthers 29-21 at Soldier Field in an NFC divisional playoff game. The Bears had beaten the Panthers 13-3 at Soldier Field in the regular season.
Oct. 16, 2006 — Mike Brown and Charles Tillman score on fumble returns and Devin Hester returns a punt 83 yards for a touchdown with 2:58 left as the Bears rally from a 23-3 deficit in the final minute of th third quarter to beat the Arizona Cardinals 24-23 and improve to 5-0.
Oct. 29, 2006 — Rex Grossman throws three touchdown passes in the first half as the Bears take a 41-0 halftime lead and rout the San Francisco 49ers 41-10 to move to 6-0. They have outscored opponents 221-69.
January, 2007 — With the No. 1 seed in the NFC after a 13-3 regular season, the Bears beat the Seattle Seahawks 27-24 in overtime at Soldier Field and the New Orleans Saints 39-14 at Soldier Field in the NFC Championship Game to reach the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1985 season.
Feb. 4, 2007 — Devin Hester returns the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI for a touchdown, but Rex Grossman is intercepted in the fourth quarter and Kelvin Hayden returns it for a touchdown to all but seal the Bears’ 29-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI.
December, 2007 — After being elminated from the playoffs at 5-9, the Bears beat the Packers 35-7 and the Saints 33-25 at Soldier Field to finish the 2007 season 7-9.
Dec. 28, 2008 — Needing a victory to stay alive in the playoff hunt, the Bears lose to the Houston Texans 31-24 in Houston to finish the season 9-7 and fail to make the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
Sept. 13, 2009 — Brian Urlacher suffers a season-ending dislocated wrist in the first half of the season opener against the Packers at Lambeau Field. The Bears lose 21-15 and finish 7-9 to miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
Jan. 2, 2011 — With a chance to eliminate the Packers from the playoffs, the Bears lose to the Packers 10-3 at Lambeau Field, but finish the 2010 regular season 11-5, with the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
Jan. 23, 2011 — After beating the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks 35-24 at Soldier Field in a divisional playoff game, the Bears lose to the Packers 21-14 in the NFC Championship Game. Jay Cutler was injured and missed the second half, but third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie nearly rallies the Bears to a tie in the final minutes.
Nov. 20, 2011 — Jay Cutler leads the Bears to their fifth consecutive victory, 31-20 over the Chargers at Soldier Field. But he suffers a broken thumb trying to make a tackle on an interception and is out for the season.
Jan. 1, 2012 — After five consecutive losses without Cutler — including the first four with Caleb Hanie at quarterback — Josh McCown leads the Bears to a 17-13 victory over the Vikings at the Metrodome to conclude an 8-8 season. It’s the fourth time in the last five years the Bears have failed to make the playoffs.
Nov. 4, 2012 — Brian Urlacher returns an interception 46 yards for a touchdown — the Bears’ seventh defensive touchdown of the season — as the Bears rout the Tennessee Titans 51-20 to improve to 7-1 at the halfway point of the 2012 season.
Dec. 16, 2012 — With Urlacher out with a hamstring injury, the Bears lose for the fifth time in six games, 21-13 to the Packers at Soldier Field.
Dec. 30, 2012 — The Bears beat the Detroit Lions 26-24 at Ford Field to finish 10-6. But the Vikings beat the Packers 37-34 at the Metrodome to eliminate the Bears from the playoff picture.
Dec. 31, 2012 — After failing to make the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons, Lovie Smith is fired as the Bears head coach with a regular-season record of 81-63 (.563).