The 2002 Chicago Bears season was their 83rd regular season completed in the National Football League. Though the team had hopes of returning to the playoffs after an unexpected 13–3 season the previous year, the club posted a dismal 4–12 record and missed the postseason. The Bears had trouble on both sides of the ball, finishing 27th in the league in points scored and 23rd in points allowed.
Because Soldier Field was being rebuilt, the Bears were forced to play all of their home games at Memorial Stadium on the campus of the University of Illinois. The Bears never seemed to get used to their new home field, and injuries piled up as the season went on for both offense and defense. Starting QB Jim Miller was injured throughout the year, leaving the team no choice but to use backup Chris Chandler and rookie third-string QB Henry Burris for both spot relief and as starters. 2001 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Anthony Thomas suffered a broken right index finger in Week 15 against the Green Bay Packers. These injuries and the league's 23rd worst turnover differential contributed to the team's franchise record-tying eight-game losing streak and their poor record.
|2002 Chicago Bears season|
|Head coach||Dick Jauron|
|General manager||Jerry Angelo|
|Owner||The McCaskey Family|
|Home field||Memorial Stadium|
|Division place||3rd NFC North|
|Playoff finish||did not qualify|
|Pro Bowlers||Marty Booker|
|QB Chris Chandler (Falcons)||QB Shane Matthews (Redskins)|
|DB Damon Moore (Eagles)||RB James Allen (Texans)|
|LB Mike Caldwell (Eagles)||WR D'Wayne Bates (Vikings)|
|DT Christian Peter (Colts)||T Blake Brockermeyer (Broncos)|
|CB Walt Harris (Colts)|
|FS Tony Parrish (49ers)|
|——||17||Danny Wuerffel||Quarterback||Houston Texans|
|1||29||Marc Colombo||Offensive Tackle||Boston College|
|3||93||Terrence Metcalf||Guard||Ole Miss|
|4||104||Alex Brown||Defensive End||Florida|
|5||140||Bobby Gray||Safety||Louisiana Tech|
|6||199||Adrian Peterson||Running Back||Georgia Southern|
|6||203||Jamin Elliott||Wide Receiver||Delaware|
|6||210||Bryan Fletcher||Tight End||UCLA|
|Travis Coleman||Defensive back||Hampton|
|Eric Joyce||Defensive back||Tennessee State|
|Eric McCoo||Running back||Penn State|
|Edell Shepherd||Wide Receiver||San Jose State|
2002 marked the first Bears Training Camp at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois, after practicing at University of Wisconsin–Platteville from 1984 to 2001. Other candidates in the selection process included universities like Eastern Illinois in Charleston, Illinois State in Normal, Millikin in Decatur, Northern Illinois in DeKalb, Southern Illinois Carbondale and Edwardsville, and Urbana–Champaign; smaller schools like Knox College in Galesburg, Monmouth College in Monmouth, and Rockford College in Rockford; and the Chanute Air Force Base near Rantoul, where the Illinois Fighting Illini held their offseason camps.
The list was eventually narrowed to Eastern Illinois, Millikin, Northern Illinois, and Olivet Nazarene. On July 17, 2001, the Bears announced Olivet Nazarene as the new Training Camp site on a two-year deal.
|2002 Chicago Bears final roster|
|Week||Opponent||Date||Kickoff Time (ET)||Stadium||Results||Record||Attendance||NFL Game summary|
|1||Denver Broncos||Saturday August 10||8:00 PM||Memorial Stadium||L 3 – 27||0–1||N/A||Summary|
|2||St. Louis Rams||Friday August 16||7:00 PM||Edward Jones Dome||W 19 – 17||1–1||65,311||Summary|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||Friday August 23||7:00 PM||Memorial Stadium||L 16 – 24||1–2||52,143||Summary|
|4||Miami Dolphins||Thursday August 29||7:00 PM||Pro Player Stadium||L 22 – 24||1–3||57,113||Summary|
|Week||Opponent||Date||Kickoff Time (CT)||Network||Stadium||Results||Record||Attendance||NFL Game summary|
|1||Minnesota Vikings||Sunday September 8||12:00 PM||FOX||Memorial Stadium||W 27 – 23||1–0||52,168||Summary|
|2||Atlanta Falcons||Sunday September 15||12:00 PM||FOX||Georgia Dome||W 14 – 13||2–0||68,081||Summary|
|3||New Orleans Saints||Sunday September 22||12:00 PM||FOX||Memorial Stadium||L 23 – 29||2–1||63,216||Summary|
|4||Buffalo Bills||Sunday September 29||12:00 PM||FOX||Ralph Wilson Stadium||L 27 – 33||2–2||72,780||Summary|
|5||Green Bay Packers||Monday October 7||8:00 PM||ABC||Memorial Stadium||L 21 – 34||2–3||63,226||Summary|
|7||Detroit Lions||Sunday October 20||12:00 PM||FOX||Ford Field||L 20 – 23||2–4||60,421||Summary|
|8||Minnesota Vikings||Sunday October 27||12:00 PM||FOX||Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome||L 7 – 25||2–5||64,122||Summary|
|9||Philadelphia Eagles||Sunday November 3||12:00 PM||FOX||Memorial Stadium||L 13 – 19||2–6||54,049||Summary|
|10||New England Patriots||Sunday November 10||3:15 PM||CBS||Memorial Stadium||L 30 – 33||2–7||63,105||Summary|
|11||St. Louis Rams||Monday November 18||8:00 PM||ABC||Edward Jones Dome||L 16 – 21||2–8||66,250||Summary|
|12||Detroit Lions||Sunday November 24||12:00 PM||FOX||Memorial Stadium||W 20 – 17||3–8||62,375||Summary|
|13||Green Bay Packers||Sunday December 1||12:00 PM||FOX||Lambeau Field||L 20 – 30||3–9||64,196||Summary|
|14||Miami Dolphins||Monday December 9||8:00 PM||ABC||Pro Player Stadium||L 9 – 27||3–10||73,609||Summary|
|15||New York Jets||Sunday December 15||12:00 PM||CBS||Memorial Stadium||W 20 – 13||4–10||62,226||Summary|
|16||Carolina Panthers||Sunday December 22||12:00 PM||FOX||Ericsson Stadium||L 14 – 24||4–11||72,602||Summary|
|17||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Sunday December 29||7:30 PM||ESPN||Memorial Stadium||L 0 – 15||4–12||55,832||Summary|
The Bears started off the year in their temporary home of Memorial Stadium against the divisional opponent Minnesota Vikings. The Bears got off to a slow start, outgained 272–118 yards and outscored 20–10 by the Vikings at the half. Heat exhaustion took its toll on the secondary, with temperatures creeping as high as 118 degrees. At one point during the second quarter, none of the defensive backs on the field had been starters on the team during the previous season. Veteran Daunte Culpepper closed out the half with a 33 yd TD strike to Randy Moss in the final minute.
The Bears regrouped after the half, and their defense in particular rose to the occasion. The defense held the Vikings to 92 total yards and one field goal in the second half. Wearing down the Minnesota defense, the Bears' rushing attack accumulated 71 yards in the second half alone. With 28 seconds left in the game, Jim Miller threw a 9 yd go-ahead TD pass to David Terrell.
After the game, Miller downplayed the inconsistency between the Bears' play in the first and second halves, stating, "I think that's just our style. We run the same stuff, wear you out."  Safety Mike Brown, who intercepted Culpepper for 16 yards, agreed with Miller during a postgame interview, stating, "The thing about this team is that we fight for 60 minutes no matter what the score is." 
With the win, the Bears started off their season 1–0.
For the second week in a row, the Bears played a close game that was decided in the game's final minute, and, once again, they came out on the winning end. The Atlanta Falcons were a team on the upswing. Falcons QB Michael Vick had just begun his first full season as a starter, playing his first home game of the year at the Georgia Dome after a 37–34 loss at Lambeau Field.
Vick finished the day with one touchdown and no interceptions, but Bears Pro Bowl LB Brian Urlacher pressured him all game, sacking Vick twice and forcing a fumble. Both offenses struggled to move down the field. and with four minutes left in the game, a Bears challenge reversed a big play by Falcons receiver Willie Jackson. Following a 3 and out by the Bears, the Falcons had an opportunity to win the game with 56 seconds left, but kicker Jay Feely missed a 45-yard field goal, leaving the Bears undefeated with a record of 2–0.
Though the Bears had narrowly won their first two games, the team remained optimistic. Dez White, who dropped a TD pass during the game, stated, "Neither game has been pretty, but we'll take it." ESPN analyst Eric Allen echoed QB Jim Miller's comments from the previous week, stating, "It's their style of play – a hard-nosed style that suits the black-and-blue division..."
With the win, the Bears improved to 2–0 on the season.
Hoping to continue their unbeaten streak at home, the Bears faced off against fellow undefeated team New Orleans in week 3. Against a prolific offense led by quarterback Aaron Brooks, the Bears surged to a 20–0 lead early in the second quarter after turnovers and missed opportunities by the Saints. Thanks to a pair of fumble recoveries by rookie Bryan Knight and solid offensive play, the Bears scored on four straight first-half possessions.
Unfortunately for the Bears, the Saints regained momentum exiting the half after a pair of quick scores, facilitated by returner Leon Johnson losing a kickoff in the sun on the kickoff immediately following a 16 yd TD pass from Brooks. The football bounced directly off of his helmet and was subsequently recovered by the Saints, who went on to score less than a minute later. After the game, New Orleans coach Jim Haslett echoed his team's confidence, "We came in at halftime down 20–14 and the guys knew we were going to win the game." 
Down 8 in the final minute, the Bears drove all the way to the Saints 18-yard line when QB Jim Miller threw an interception to cornerback Sammy Knight with two seconds remaining to seal victory for the Saints. Chicago had won its previous 12 games decided by a touchdown or less, and Miller hoped for better play down the stretch, stating, "It shouldn't have come down to the way it did."
With the loss, the Bears fell to 2–1 on the season.
In Week 4, the Bears matched up against a team equally as familiar with close games as they were in the Buffalo Bills. Every single game the Bears had played had come down to a TD or less. The Bears had been fortunate enough to avoid overtime up to that point, but the Bills had needed overtime to decide a game two times already.
With the exception of a fumble return TD at the end of the first quarter, the Bears defense had trouble stopping the Bills offense, powered by new veteran QB Drew Bledsoe. Likewise, the Bills defense kept the Bears offense from scoring until the last minute of the first half, narrowing their deficit to only three points. Neither team could gain a significant edge in the second half, and with QB Jim Miller's TD pass to John Davis to tie the game up at the end of the 4th quarter, the game was sent into overtime.
The Bears won the coin toss and went 3 and out to start the overtime period, leaving the door open for the Bills. Bledsoe won the game with a TD to Travis Henry, setting an NFL record with his fourth career overtime TD pass., leaving both teams with identical records of 2–2. The Bears, once undefeated, now had a two-game losing streak to equal its winning streak earlier in the season.
With the loss, the Bears fell to 2–2 on the season.
On the national stage of Monday Night Football for the first time since 1997, the Bears hoped to put their season back on track with a win over the rival Green Bay Packers at home in their last game before their bye week. Debuting an all-navy blue alternate uniform, the Bears failed to draw inspiration from the change in uniforms and stumbled out of the gate early, giving up an 85 yd TD pass from Brett Favre to Donald Driver and another 19 yd TD pass to Tyrone Davis in the first quarter alone. Favre needed 262 passing yards to reach 40,000 career passing yards. Though the Bears would have preferred to avoid that dubious honor, Favre reached the number by halftime, torching the secondary for 287 yards.
Favre slowed down in the second half, but the damage was done. A dislocated left ankle injury to starting Left Guard Rex Tucker and four turnovers by the Bears offense, including a 72-yard fumble recovery TD by Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, kept the Bears from staying in the game, even with Jim Miller's 3 TD passes. Miller himself was responsible for all four turnovers.
Favre improved to 17–4 against the Bears in his career with this game, which was also his ninth straight road victory against the team. CB R.W. McQuarters was impressed by the veteran's play, stating after the game, "He gets rid of the ball so quick, it's hard to get any kind of good read on him." 
With the loss, the Bears dropped to 2–3 on the season.
The Bears arrived at Ford Field for their week 6 matchup against the Detroit Lions with a significant change to its starting lineup. Backup QB Chris Chandler started for the Bears in place of injured starter Jim Miller. Chris Chandler extended a post-merger NFL record by starting at QB for his seventh team.
Neither team scored in the first quarter, but the Lions led 14–3 with a minute remaining in the half on a pair of TDs by seasoned RB James Stewart. The Bears battled back, scoring 17 straight points to take the lead early in the third quarter. Both teams struggled to put up points late in the game, but rookie Lions QB Joey Harrington drove the Lions down the field late in both the third and fourth quarters.
With 2:21 left in the game, Detroit started a drive from their own 22-yard line. The Lions received favorable calls from the officials twice during the drive, but a penalty against the Lions helped them the most. With five seconds left in the game, Joey Harrington was sacked by Bears DB Larry Whigham, seemingly ending the game. However, the referees had called a false start on the Lions, negating the previous play. Lions kicker Jason Hanson then hit a 24 yd FG with two seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
The Lions won the overtime coin toss and elected to receive. Chicago's kickoff went out of bounds, giving the Lions favorable field position and possession. Detroit ran the ball seven straight times to set up the game-winning 48 yd FG from the Chicago 30 by Hanson.
Though it was only week 6, the Bears had now lost more times in 2002 than in all of 2001 during the regular season. Bears linebacker Rosevelt Colvin said after the game, "These are the games we were winning last year. Now, we're losing them." 
With the loss, the Bears fell to 2–4 on the season.
Week 8 against the Minnesota Vikings at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome proved to be the lowpoint of the Bears' season. Chris Chandler started in place of Jim Miller for the second straight week but was ineffective against the Minnesota pass defense, then ranked 31st in the league. He was intercepted once and sacked six times.
Minnesota held onto the ball for 41 minutes, more than doubling the Bears' time of possession. The Bears had lost Ted Washington, R.W. McQuarters, and Warrick Holdman to injuries, and the depleted defensive unit gave up 148 rushing yards and 216 passing yards. Running back Anthony Thomas could only gain 18 yards on the ground and was tackled in the Bears end zone for a safety midway through the third quarter.
The Bears could not score until the fourth quarter, and head coach Dick Jauron offered no excuses. During a postgame interview, he said, "That certainly wasn't pretty in any area. It's frustrating, no doubt. There's nobody who's happy right now."
With the loss, the Bears fell to 2–5 on the season.
The Bears returned home to face the team that had eliminated them from the playoffs the previous year, the Philadelphia Eagles. Both teams had gone in opposite directions since then. The Bears, losers of five straight games, were all but relegated to battling for draft position, and the Eagles eventually earned the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs.
The Bears frustrated the Eagles defense in the first half. Though neither team scored in the first quarter, Paul Edinger kicked a field goal midway through the second quarter to give the Bears the lead. Eagles QB Donovan McNabb replied with a 5 yd TD run with 4:42 remaining in the half, but returning QB Jim Miller led scoring drives twice more before halftime, capped off with a 6 yd Anthony Thomas run and a 53 yd Edinger FG, respectively.
Penalties haunted the Bears in the second half. During the game, officials called 12 penalties on Chicago for 121 yards, 9 on defense. The offense could only muster 53 yards after halftime, 32 of which came on the final drive, where Miller overthrew Marcus Robinson on a 4th down end zone pass. David Akers kicked four field goals for the Eagles in the second half, overcoming the Eagles' first half deficit and earning the win.
With the loss, the Bears fell to 2–6 on the season.
During week 10, the Bears hosted the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. New England came into the game with a 4–4 record but still had postseason hopes. The Bears were hoping to end a six-game losing streak in front of their home crowd.
Chris Chandler started the game for the Bears, but after trading field goals twice with New England, he suffered a sprained neck and did not return after the half. The Bears and Patriots entered halftime tied 6–6.
The third quarter saw a flurry of scoring from the Bears. Injured but playing QB Jim Miller started the run with an 11 yd TD pass to Stanley Pritchett. Two minutes later, Marty Booker threw a 44 yd TD pass to Marcus Robinson on a trick play. It was the Bears' longest TD pass of the season to that point. Anthony Thomas converted for 2 points on a run, giving the Bears a comfortable 27–6 lead.
New England had a scoring run of their own to close the game. Following a TD pass from QB Tom Brady to running back Kevin Faulk, Adam Vinatieri kicked two FGs for the Patriots, narrowing the deficit to 27–19. Paul Edinger responded with a 32 yd FG of his own to extend the Bears' lead.
Brady hit Faulk with another TD pass for 36 yd with 2:46, but the Bears could not close the game out, giving New England one more drive to score. On that drive, two challenges ended favorably for New England, wiping out a Bryan Robinson game ending interception and upholding a last minute game-winning TD pass from Brady to receiver David Patten.
With the loss, the Bears fell to 2–7 on the season.
After hosting the Super Bowl XXXVI champions in Week 10, the Bears faced that game's runner-up St. Louis Rams on the road. Both teams had suffered losing streaks during the season, but while the Bears were still in the midst of theirs, the Rams had bounced back and won four consecutive games, mostly due to the play of breakout backup QB Marc Bulger, who was taking over for injured defending NFL MVP Kurt Warner.
St. Louis scored first on a 1 yd TD run by Ernie Conwell early in the first quarter. Paul Edinger kicked field goals of 37 and 48 yards in the second quarter. Kurt Warner returned for the Rams temporarily in the second quarter after Bulger was removed from the game with a finger injury. Once X-Rays came back negative, Bulger returned to the game, throwing a 22-yard TD pass to Lamar Gordon, who was playing in place of the injured Marshall Faulk. St. Louis took a 14–6 lead to the half.
In the second half, the Bears kept the game close with a TD run by Anthony Thomas and a Paul Edinger FG, but the Rams' passing game was too much for the Bears' decimated defense to handle, even with the little thread their running game posed. The Rams' defense sacked Bears QB Chris Chandler seven times, and, though they never turned the ball over, they were outgained 327–117 in total yardage.
"We just have to make plays", Chicago wide receiver Marcus Robinson said. "Bottom line, we didn't do that tonight and that's why we lost."
With the loss, Chicago dropped to 2–8 on the season and tied a franchise-worst 8-game losing streak.
Before their Week 12 game against the Detroit Lions at home, Week 11 marked a milestone of futility for the Bears. After losing eight straight games, the Bears had now tied their all-time worst losing streak. In their first game against the Lions during Week 7, the Lions came back under QB Joey Harrington to force overtime and win the game.
Chris Chandler started the game in place of injured QB Jim Miller again, throwing a 3-yard TD pass to Marcus Robinson in the second quarter. Detroit entered halftime trailing, but they took the lead after the half once again, scoring 17 unanswered points with a 22-yard FG from Jason Hanson, a 1-yard TD pass from Joey Harrington to Germane Crowell, and a 23-yard TD run from James Stewart.
The Lions did not score again. Jim Miller came off the bench in the second half and threw a 22-yard TD strike to Dez White to cut the lead to 17-14 with 2:39 to go. After forcing a punt, the Bears faced a 4th and 20 at the 45 yard line with 1:01 to go. In probably the best play of the game (though forgotten due to the upcoming coin toss blunder by the Lions), Miller dropped back and fell down, but got back up (since he was never touched, the play was still live) and completed a 33 yard pass to Dez White. This set up a 22-yard FG by Paul Edinger with no time left in regulation to force overtime.
The Lions won the coin toss in overtime, but they elected to kick the ball to the Bears because of the 17 mph winds on the field, hoping they would have the opportunity to use the advantage they gained by picking their end zone. Unfortunately for the Lions, the Bears drove down the field. With the Bears driving at the Lions' 35 yard line, the Lions made another strategic blunder. The Bears faced a 3rd and 8 and failed to convert, but the Lions accepted a holding penalty on the play, giving the Bears 3rd and 18 rather than have Paul Edinger attempt a 52 yard field goal against the wind. Miller completed a pass to Marty Booker for 15 yards, then on 4th and 3 converted the first down on a pass to Dez White, setting up a 40-yard field goal by Edinger which gave the Bears the win.
Detroit Coach Marty Mornhinweg defended his decision after the game, saying to reporters, "Knowing the outcome of this game, I wouldn't do it again, but in a similar situation, I would." Paul Edinger vocalized his belief that Detroit had made a mistake, saying, "You always want to take the ball. It's sudden death."
With the win, Chicago improved to 3–8 on the season and snapped their losing streak.
Coming off their first win in 8 weeks, the Bears traveled to Lambeau Field to take on their hated rival, the Green Bay Packers for the second time that year. After starting 9–1, the Packers had lost two straight, and needed a win to clinch the division, allowing the Bears to potentially play the role of spoiler.
The Bears scored early in the first quarter off of a fake FG pitch from holder/punter Brad Maynard to Dustin Lyman. Green Bay could only respond with two FGs before the half. Jim Miller threw another TD pass to Dustin Lyman for 8 yards. Chicago entered the second half with a 14–6 lead.
Chicago missed a big opportunity on the last play of the half. Packers QB Brett Favre threw a hail mary pass at the end of the half that was intercepted by Bears CB Damon Moore. Moore fumbled the ball to Packers lineman Mike Wahle, who subsequently fumbled it again to the Bears' Roosevelt Williams. Packers rookie receiver Javon Walker chased Williams down and tackled him short of the end zone to end the half. Bears CB R.W. McQuarters had a chance to make the block but attempted to position himself for a lateral instead, allowing Walker to make the tackle.
On Green Bay's first drive of the third quarter, Favre threw a 6-yard TD pass to tight end Bubba Franks to narrow the Chicago lead to 14–13. They took the lead later that quarter on a Ryan Longwell 27-yard FG. In the fourth quarter, Green Bay extended its lead with another Favre TD pass, this time to William Henderson, and a 2-yard Tony Fisher TD run.
Chicago's offense sputtered for most of the game after the first two TD passes. Anthony Thomas left the game with a broken right index finger and did not return for the rest of the season. Third string QB Henry Burris threw a 45-yard TD pass to Marcus Robinson with 10 seconds left in the game, but it had little impact on the final outcome.
With the loss, the Bears fell to 3–9 on the season.
Coming off their loss to Green Bay, the Bears traveled to Miami to take on the Miami Dolphins, led by running back Ricky Williams, who rushed for 228 yards the week before against the Bills. Chicago's depth chart at QB was almost depleted, with both Jim Miller and Chris Chandler nursing injuries. The Bears were featured on Monday Night Football for the second time in 2002, hoping to improve on their last performance on MNF against the Packers.
Nothing in the first half went well for the Bears. Jim Miller's sore arm prevented him from making any long passes, and he finished the game 3–12 with 9 yards and an interception. Miami shut them down on both sides of the ball, outgaining the Bears 293–37. Ricky Williams rushed for 119 yards in the first half alone for his eight 100 yard game of the season. Miami QB Jay Fiedler passed to Jed Weaver for the first TD of the game, and Ricky Williams ran 15 yards for another TD to put the Dolphins up 14–3 at the half.
Ricky Williams continued his rushing assault in the second half, breaking out a 63-yard TD run to put the Dolphins up 21–3 in the third quarter. Olindo Mare tacked on two FGs in the fourth quarter to put the Dolphins up 27–3. Ricky Williams finished the game with 216 yards to become one of four running backs with consecutive 200-yard rushing games.
The Bears sent Chandler out at QB in the second half with little success. Miami intercepted the QB twice, and Chicago failed to get into the end zone until third-string QB Henry Burris passed to Marty Booker for a 6-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter.
With the loss, the Bears fell to 3–10 on the season.
Heading into Week 15's game against the New York Jets, the Bears decided to shut Jim Miller down for the year with his knee injury, leaving Chris Chandler and Henry Burris as the only QBs on the Bears' depth chart. New York, led by top-rated QB Chad Pennington, was still mathematically alive in the playoff hunt and needed to win as many games as possible to maximize their chances. The Bears, long eliminated from contention, could only hope to spoil the Jets' chances.
The Bears shut out the Jets in the first half and scored on an FG from Paul Edinger and a run from sixth-round pick Adrian Peterson in the second quarter. Both sides had trouble moving the ball down the field, but neither side turned the ball over at all.
At the beginning of the second half, the Jets' Chad Morton returned the kickoff 97 yards for a TD, but a holding penalty erased it. Regardless, Curtis Martin broke off a 35-yard run to set up New York's only TD of the game, a 5-yard pass to Wayne Chrebet. Chicago was left without its two starting CBs after Jerry Azumah left the game after suffering a head injury on a pass, and R.W. McQuarters was inactive because of a hip injury.
Chandler was efficient for the Bears, completing 22 of his 27 passes. Leon Johnson scored the Bears' second TD of the game from 2 yards out midway through the third quarter. The Jets scored two field goals to narrow their deficit to 17–13. Chicago also added a 48-yard field goal from Paul Edinger in the fourth quarter, leaving one final chance for the Jets to score. Pennington drove the Jets from the Jets 24 all the way to the Bears 14, but with 1:10 to play, Wayne Chrebet fumbled a 22-yard pass, which was recovered by Roosevelt Williams, sealing the Bears victory.
With the win, the Bears improved to 4–10 on the season.
After their win in Week 15, the Bears traveled to Charlotte to face the Carolina Panthers, who were also mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Though the Bears had snapped their overall losing streak, they had still lost 6 straight on the road and hoped to snap that streak as well. The Panthers, quarterbacked by Rodney Peete, were trying to give their fans a victory in the home finale.
The game started very well for Chicago. QB Chris Chandler threw a season-high 76-yard pass to Dez White for a TD. He finished 7–8 on the day with 1 TD and 1 fumble. Unfortunately, he was knocked out of the game and the season with a concussion by Carolina's Brentson Buckner.
Carolina scored all three of their touchdowns in the second quarter as well. Dee Brown ran for TDs of 2 and 1 yards, respectively. Following a fumble by Chicago QB Henry Burris, Rodney Peete passed to Muhsin Muhammad for a 3-yard TD pass.
Neither team moved the ball well in the second half, only able to muster an FG apiece. Chicago finished the day with four turnovers and only 106 yards of offense after the 76-yard TD pass by Chandler 47 seconds into the game. Bears offensive coordinator John Shoop felt that they lost their momentum when Chandler went down, saying, "I think when Chris got injured, we started reeling a little bit and we just couldn't recover as a team." 
With the loss, the Bears fell to 4–11 on the season.
The Bears returned to Memorial Stadium one last time to host the eventual Super Bowl XXXVII champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday Night Football. The Buccaneers were notoriously poor in the cold weather, having lost 21 straight games when the temperature dropped below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. With the gametime temperature at 38 °F and Bucs QB Brad Johnson out with a back contusion, many fans thought the Bears, even with their 4–11 record, had a good chance of winning the game. With Green Bay's loss that night, Tampa Bay needed to win to secure a first-round bye in the playoffs. 
The Buccaneers offense was not prolific. Bucs backup QB Rob Johnson was sacked five times during the game by the Bears defense, but he did not turn the ball over and managed the game well enough for kicker Martin Gramatica to kick five field goals, none more than 33 yards. The Bucs established their ground game against the Bears, rushing for 161 yards with their halfback-fullback tandem, Michael Pittman and Mike Alstott.
The Bears fared worse. Former third string rookie QB Henry Burris found himself at a loss against the league's #1 defense. The Bucs intercepted him four times over the course of the game, and the Bears were shut out in their final game at Memorial Stadium.
With the loss, the Bears finished the season with a record of 4–12.
|(3) Green Bay Packers||12||4||0||.750||5–1||9–3||398||328||L1|
|Week One: Minnesota Vikings vs. Chicago Bears — Game information|
Scoring Summary: First quarter
||Week Two: Chicago Bears vs. Atlanta Falcons — Game information |
||Week Three: New Orleans Saints vs. Chicago Bears — Game information |
||Week Four: Chicago Bears vs. Buffalo Bills — Game information |
||Week Five: Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears — Game information |
||Week Seven: Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions — Game information |
||Week Eight: Chicago Bears vs. Minnesota Vikings — Game information |
||Week Nine: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Chicago Bears — Game information |
|Week Ten: New England Patriots vs. Chicago Bears — Game information |
||Week Eleven: Chicago Bears vs. St. Louis Rams — Game information |
||Week Twelve: Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears — Game information |
||Week Thirteen: Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers — Game information |
||Week Fourteen: Chicago Bears vs. Miami Dolphins — Game information |
||Week Fifteen: New York Jets vs. Chicago Bears — Game information |
||Week Sixteen: Chicago Bears vs. Carolina Panthers — Game information |
||Week Seventeen: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Chicago Bears — Game information |
|Division championships (21)|
|Conference championships (4)|
|League championships (9)|
|Current league affiliations|
Championship seasons in bold