Greatness came to the Chicago Bears yesterday in the frigidity of Wrigley Field where the team of destiny gave the New York Giants all the best of the breaks and a thoro whipping to win the championship of the National Football league. The score was 14 to 10.
Before 45,801 mittened blanketed, and shivering spectators crowded into the north side ball park, the Bears brought the title back to Chicago for the first time in 17 years by rallying twice, then throttling New York's desperate last second challenge.
An estimated 50,000,000 other spectators viewed the game on television across the country, and an additional 26,000 followed the action comfortably in three Chicago indoor arenas where professional football conducted its first experience with closed circuit theater-TV.
Both Bear touchdowns were set up by interceptions and came on quarterback sneaks by Bill Wade, a gallant and steady performer this day. The Bears intercepted five passes, including two long ones into the end zones.
By their triumph, the Bears climaxed the career of one of football's greatest coaches, 68-year-old George Halas, the venerable pro pioneer who is virtually everybody's candidate for coach of the century. They also qualified to represent the National league next August in the College All-Star game, the Chicago Tribune Charities, Inc.'s annual midsummer gridiron spectacle which they helped inaugurate in 1934.
But there were moments of anguish for the 45,701 in Wrigley field and the millions before television sets before the Bears reached the throne room. Roger Leclerc missed two field goals, one from the 28-yard line in the third period and another from the 34 in the fourth. There were moments in the next 5 minutes when Bear partisans wished the Chicagoans had those six points, for Y.A. Tittle was still in the game, piloting the greatest offensive unit in football.
Start from 20
With 5 minutes to go, the Giants started from their 20 where the ball had been placed after Leclerc's second unsuccessful kick. One, two, three and on up to 10 plays were strung together as the Giants moved, apparently irresistibly, down the field. But on the 11th, Bennie McRae intercepted a Tittle pass in the end zone and the tension slackened.
The Bears made a first down in two plays and appeared to have a second. Make this and possibly one more and they were champions. But Ronnie Bull missed by inches on a third down smash, even tho he gained 3 yards. The Giants were still alive.
One minute and 38 seconds remained when Bobby Green fielded a high snap from center and got a punt away to the Giants' 16 yard line. For the Giants, victory was a minute and a half and 84 yards away. Tittle, in his long career, had gone that far, and more, in less time. A pass to Aaron Thomas, an end with magnet fingers, netted 10 yards. One minute and 24 seconds left. Another Thomas pass picked up 8 yards. A pass to Fullback Joe Morrison got 12. Fifty-six seconds to go! Time for at least four plays, any of which might be the celebrated Tittle bomb.
Tittle missed Veteran Hugh McElhenny with a pass. The crowd drew a deep breath. Thirty-nine seconds to go.
Frank Gifford took Tittle's pass on a down-and-out pattern on the sideline at the Bears' 40. It looked good to college fans among the screaming throng. But in professional football you must come down with both feet in bounds. Gifford had only one in when he landed. Incomplete. Twenty seconds left.
Tittle to Gifford, down-and-in, for 15 yards and a first down on the Bears' 39. Then it came that long anticipated, dreaded bomb. Tittle had plenty of time. He let Del Shofner go down, then in from the right side. But when the ball left his hand, it went into a high lob. It had no authority and no direction. Shofner could not have gotten there in a taxi. But Richie Petitbon could. And he did. Richie intercepted in the end zone and pandemonium broke loose.
Tittle Throws Helmet
Tittle, the epitome of defection and despair, jerked his helmet off his bald head and flung it to the ground. Three times he picked it up and smashed it into the turf; then he slumped off to the sidelines with tears streaming down his seamy face. Three times in three years now he had gotten the Giants into the playoff, and three times he was unable to get themout.
Bear reserves and coaches rushed from their bench. Most of the spectators were too limp and too relieved to move, but some broke thru police lines. Ushers and officers charged in to restore order. Two seconds remained; time enough for one play. They would have to play it out. There could be a fumble, you know, and a Giant recovery and race for victory by the recoverer. Anyway that's the rule.
When they finally cleared off playing room, Wade took the snap and stuck his nose into the ground, clutching the ball, and the championship, to his bosom as time ran out.
bears 14, giants 10