One More for Papa Bear (12-29-1963)

This had been one surprising season for the Chicago Bears.

The smart guys had said nobody could top Vince Lombardi’s Packers.  The smart guys had said the Bears had no offense.  The smart guys had said Bears’ head coach George Halas was out of touch with modern football.

12-29--1963 Bears.jpg

Yet the Bears had beaten the Packers twice.  The team’s granite defense had made up for any lack of offense.  The Bears had finished on top of the Western Conference at 11-1-2, and were now set to meet the New York Giants for the NFL championship.

And the smart guys said the Bears didn’t have a chance.

Seven years before, the Bears had faced the Giants in the title game.  New York had clobbered Chicago 47-7.  And now the Giants had the best quarterback in pro football, Y.A. Tittle, calling their signals.  Some bookies were rating the Bears 10-point underdogs.

The thermometer read 9-degrees when the game got underway at Wrigley Field.  The Giants took an early 7-0 lead on a Tittle pass.  The smart guys were grinning–another New York blowout was on the way.12-29--game%20program

It sure looked that way a little bit later, when another Tittle pass hit a wide-open receiver in the end zone.  But the receiver dropped the ball.  Then, on the next play, Bears’ linebacker Larry Morris intercepted, and ran back 65 yards.  That set up a Chicago TD, and the score was tied.

The Giants managed a field goal to take a 10-7 lead at halftime.  But in the third quarter, the Bear defense again came through.  This time Ed O’Bradovich made the interception, bringing the ball back to the New York 14.  Four plays later, the Bears had the lead for the first time.

The score was 14-10.  It stayed that way down to the final moments of the fourth quarter.

Now the Giants had the ball.  Tittle drove them downfield to the Bears’ 39.  With 10 seconds left, he lofted a long pass to the end zone–and it was picked off by the Bears’ Richie Pettibon.  And with that, the Fat Lady started singing.

The smart guys had been wrong.  Coach George Halas had his eighth NFL championship.  It would be his last.





4 Responses to “One More for Papa Bear (12-29-1963)”

  1. 1 Garry December 29, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    There wasn’t any home TV for that game, it was shown at movie theaters & the Amphitheater for about $10 a person.

  2. 2 benson December 30, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Garry, I was only 5 and all I remember from 1963 is the JFK assassination. But from what you wrote, it still stuns me that the NFL Championship game was blacked out at home. And this was market #2 at the time.

    • 3 J.R. Schmidt December 30, 2014 at 11:07 am

      Garry and Benson–
      Yes, even the NFL championship game was blacked out in Chicago. I had to listen to Jack and Kup on the radio. The blackout lasted at least thru the 1970s, long enough for Bob Newhart to do an episode about it on his first TV series–the guys had to go to Peoria or South Bend or someplace just to watch the Bears game.

  3. 4 Ram4 January 14, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    My Dad went to the game. He said it was so cold they went into the bathroom to try to warm up (as did most fans).

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