The season started off with the club trying to rebound from a 5–11 season under now coach Lovie Smith. Smith, in his first year with the Bears, had been eager to lead his young team to a Super Bowl, but a preseason injury to starting quarterback Rex Grossman spelled disaster for the Bears.
The 2005 Bears began the season on a negative note, winning only one of their first four games. Despite their poor passing game, the Bears managed to win eight consecutive games, through perseverance on defense and a solid running game. The Bears eventually clinched a playoff berth on Christmas Day against the Green Bay Packers. However, in their first playoff game in almost four years, the Carolina Panthers upset the Bears, 29–21.
Rookie running backCedric Benson held out of training camp over a contract dispute until just before the final preseason game. His absence in camp meant that Thomas Jones would be the starting running back going into the regular season.
Despite all these setbacks, the Bears were still hopeful because franchise middle linebackerBrian Urlacher had made it through the preseason in good health, unlike the year before when he battled injuries all season, beginning with a pulled hamstring on the first day of training camp.
Game weather: 60°F (Sunny)
Q2 – MIN – 6:55 – Paul Edinger 23 yd FG (MIN 3–0)
Q2 – CHI – 0:37 – 3 yd TD pass from Kyle Orton to Desmond Clark (Robbie Gould kick) (CHI 7–3)
Q3 – CHI – 7:28 – 2 yd TD pass from Kyle Orton to Desmond Clark (Gould kick) (CHI 14–3)
Q4 – CHI – 13:03 – Thomas Jones 24 yd TD run (Gould kick) (CHI 21–3)
Q4 – CHI – 4:11 – Thomas Jones 1 yd TD run (Gould kick) (CHI 28–3)
Things were bad from the beginning for the Bears, who allowed a 58-yard Jake Delhomme TD pass to Steve Smith just 55 seconds into the game. CornerbackCharles Tillman slipped on the play, and it would only signify things to come the rest of the game for the vaunted Bears defense.
The Panthers would add 2 field goals to their total before the Bears would get their first points.
The Bears offense got off to a slow start, having their first 5 possessions end in punts. Their first score came midway through the second quarter, when running backAdrian Peterson scored a touchdown on a 1-yard run. The Bears had opted to go for it on 4th down to get the score, cutting the Carolina lead to 13–7. Before the half expired, the Panthers' John Kasay kicked a 37-yard field goal with 5 seconds left in the half, extending the lead to 16–7.
The Bears offense came out at halftime firing on all cylinders, mounting an 8-play, 68-yard drive to close to within 2 points of the Panther lead. It was a balanced drive that led to the score, with the Bears running and passing 5 times each, with Rex Grossman capping the drive with a 1-yard TD pass to Desmond Clark.
The spark provided by the offense would be short lived, as midway through the 3rd quarter, Delhomme went deep to Steve Smith again, this time for a 39-yard touchdown that put the Panthers up 23–14. Chris Thompson, a reserve defensive back for the Bears, fell down on the play to let Smith slip past him.
The Bears would manage to score one more time on a drive that started with 2:07 remaining in the 3rd quarter. Grossman would complete 3 of 4 passes on the drive, and running backThomas Jones almost scored on a 7-yard run. After a replay challenge by Carolina, however, the officials reversed the call to say that Jones had fumbled into the endzone, which would have resulted in a Carolina touchback. However, a major facemask penalty on Carolina defensive backMarlon McCree would give Chicago a first down at the Carolina 3. From there, fullbackJason McKie would rumble in for a touchdown, making the score 23–21 in favor of the Panthers.
The Panthers would extend their lead once more with a 1-yard Delhomme pass to tight endKris Mangum. Kasay would miss the extra point try though, making the Panther lead 29–21.
When the Bears offense would start moving the ball once more, disaster struck for the Bears, as on a 3rd-and-10 play from the Carolina 37-yard line, Grossman threw an ill-advised interception to Ken Lucas.