Thursday, June 26, 2014

1946 Chicago Bears: A Great Post War Year

1946 Bears

World War II ended in 1945.  Following the German surrender on  May 7, 1945, the Japaneese surrendered on August 15 with the surrender documents signed aboard the USS Missouri on September 2. Much work would be done to heal wounds and more conflicts would surface in what would come to be called the Cold War.  Yet, Americans were certainly anxious to return to what they opined as "normal." Certainly, the NFL was poised to give the fans some relief from the post war stress.

Papa Bear  returned from his military service and the Bears' coaching roster included George Halas, Luke Johnsos, "Hunk" Anderson, and Paddy Driscoll.  The Bears had revolutionized offensive formations in the NFL with the modified T Formation that stunned the nation in the 1940 Championship match between the Bears and the Washington Redskins.  The Bears had won three NFL Championships in the 1940s heading into the 1946 season.

In 1946, the Bears racked up an 8–2–1 record.  Sid Luckman had returned to the Bears full-time along with others coming back from military service.  For the season, the Bears scored 289 points and allowed 193 points from their opponents.  They beat the Packers and Lions twice and won single meetings with the Eagles and the Redskins.  They split with the Cardinals and tied the Rams in their first meeting and beat them their second.  The only team that beat the Bears without receiving retribution from the Monsters of the Midway was the New York Giants who won 14–0 on October 27.  It would be these Giants that the Bears would face in the post season. 

1946 Championship Game

The Bears battled the New York Giants in the Polo Grounds on December 15, 1946 for the NFL Championship.  After a Giants’ fumble was recovered by Ed Sprinkle of the Bears at the Giants’ 31-yard line, the Bears’ backs pounded the line on three straight runs that set up the defense for the pass.  Luckman’s tossed a 21-yard scoring pass to Ken Kavanaugh.  A few series later, Dante Magnani picked off a pass thrown by the Giants’ Frankie Filchock and ran it in 40 yards out for another Bears’ score.  The Bears led 14–0 when Filchock hit Frank Liebel on a 38-yard touchdown pass.  After the extra point, the Bears’ lead was cut to 14–7 as the first quarter came to a close.  The second quarter was plagued by a series of untimely penalties and mistakes that killed off scoring opportunities for both teams.  

In the third quarter, the Giants recovered a fumble on the Bears’ 20-yard line.  After moving the ball to the five yard line, Filchock struck again on a touchdown pass to fullback Steve Filipowicz.  After the extra point, the score was tied at 14–14.  When the Bears drove down field to the Giants 19-yard line, Luckman faked a handoff to the very dangerous George McAfee whom the Giants were keying on, and then the crafty quarterback bootlegged in the opposite direction for a score.  A Frank Maznicki field goal late in the game gave the Bears a 24–14 lead, which they held to the end. 

The Bears could look back at one of the most remarkable runs in sports history: four championships in 7 years.  

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