1937 NFL Championship Game

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1937 NFL Championship Game
1 2 3 4 Total
Washington Redskins 7 0 7 14 28
Chicago Bears 7 7 7 0 21
Date December 12, 1937
Stadium Wrigley Field
City Chicago
Attendance
Timeline
Previous game Next game
1936 1938

The 1937 National Football League Championship game was the fifth annual championship game and was held December 12, 1937, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The attendance was 15,870. The game featured the Western Division champions Chicago Bears (9–1–1) and the Eastern Division champions Washington Redskins (8–3).

Background[edit]

The Redskins moved to Washington before the 1937 season from Boston by owner George Preston Marshall. The Boston Redskins had won the Eastern Division title the previous season, but had poor attendance, prompting the team to move south.[1] The Redskins drafted rookie quarterback Sammy Baugh from TCU before the 1937 season. Baugh had led the league in passing with a then-record 81 pass completions, and Redskins halfback Cliff Battles led the NFL in rushing with 874 yards.

The Bears were coming off a nine-win season under head coach George Halas. The 1937 season was the last for Bears great Bronko Nagurski (other than a brief, one-year return to the Bears in 1943).

Baugh stated that the field conditions were, in his words "the worst field I ever saw. The field had been torn up the previous week, and it froze solid with jagged clods sticking up. I've never seen so many people get cut up in a football game"[1]

Game summary[edit]

The Redskins scored first when Baugh led the team down to the Chicago 7-yard line, where he slipped the ball to Battles on a reverse for the game's first touchdown.[1]

The Bears came back, however, as halfback Jack Manders scored the next fourteen points for the Bears: a touchdown run, a touchdown pass reception, and two extra points. Chicago led 14–7 at halftime.[1]

Baugh took over in the second half, mixing short and long passes, shredding the Bears defense. (Baugh would finish the game 18-for-33 passing, for 335 yards; he had led the league in 1937 with an average of 102.5 yards passing per game.[2]) Even using five defensive linemen (most teams used six at the time) and a sixth defensive back, the Bears could not stop the Redskins passing attack.[1]

In the fourth quarter, the score was tied 21–21, before Baugh threw a 35-yard touchdown strike to Redskins wingback Ed Justice to take the lead for good, 28–21.

The First Fifty Years, a 1969 book that chronicles the first half-century of the NFL, listed the game as the second of "Ten [Games] That Mattered."[1] "In his rookie year," the book concludes, "Sammy Baugh had beaten pro football's best with a style of play 15 years before its time. And in his first year in prestigious Washington, George Preston Marshall ran up a championship flag. Pro football was getting its base."


Scoring summary[edit]

[1]

  • First Quarter
    • WAS – Battles 7 yard run (Smith kick) 7–0 WAS
    • CHI – Manders 10 yard run (Manders kick) 7–7 TIE
  • Second Quarter
    • CHI – Manders 37 pass from Masterson (Manders kick) 14–7 CHI
  • Third Quarter
    • WAS – Millner 55 yard pass from Baugh (Smith kick) 14–14 TIE
    • CHI – Manske 4 pass from Masterson (Manders kick) 21–14 CHI
  • Fourth Quarter
    • WAS – Millner 78 yard pass from Baugh (Smith kick) 21–21 TIE
    • WAS – Justice 35 yard pass from Baugh (Smith kick) 28–21 WAS

References[edit]