1941: The last Bears-Packers playoff game
BY HOWARD ROBERTS
This Dec. 14, 1941 photo released by the NFL shows Chicago Bears Hall of Fame guard Danny Fortmann (21) and Bears end John Siegel (6), far right, reacting to the ball in the air after a tackle by Bears guard Ray Bray (82), in the 1941 Western Division Pl
From the Dec. 15, 1941, Chicago Daily News, an account of the last time the Bears and Packers met in the playoffs:
Stout Steve Owen and sundry other officials of the New York Giants are back on Broadway today, but unless they’re marvelous actors, they’re not fooling anybody. One look at the long faces Stout Steve and his gang carried out of Wrigley Field yesterday afternoon will be all the Giants need to warn them of what is in store for them on the same sod next Sunday afternoon.
That the time the Giants, as champions of the East, meet the Bears in the annual playoff for the championship of the National Football League, which is also the championship of all football as it is played in these more than ever United States. Stout Steve, as coach of the Giants, was one of 43,425 who shivered through a frigid hour at Wrigley Field yesterday as the Bears won the right to meet the New Yorkers. But whereas the fans were shivering from the cold, Coach Owen’s shakes were induced by what he saw in the second quarter.
In those 15 minutes the Bears put on a perfect exhibition of offensive football, crashing over 24 points to send them hurtling to a 33-14 triumph over the Green Bay Packers in their playoff for the Western championship.
‘Sudden Death’ for Packers
The game was to have featured football’s first “sudden death” overtime in case of a tie, but as one press box wag phrased it, the sudden death came in that second quarter and came to Green Bay. For great as the Bears were in annihilating the Redskins, 73-0, in the title playoff a year ago, they were even better yesterday in that second period.
Still, such is the spirit of this Bears machine, they are not satisfied,. As Lee Artoe, their great right tackle, put it after the game, “Our game is next Sunday!” That can be little consolation to the Giants, for the Bears of yesterday were as utterly devastating as any football team that ever charged across a chalk-lined field.
Trying to select a hero from their limitless list of greats is like reaching for the moon or like trying to tackle George McAfee in the open field.
McAfee Runs Wild
Lots of Packers tried to catch “One Play” George yesterday, yet he escaped them for 127 yards of gain in 13 trips with the ball. Swivel-hips George was so terrific that “Chile” Walsh of the Cardinals remarked later that “he’s the greatest running back I ever have seen.”
Great as was McAfee on this occasion, he had two dozen rivals for top honors. And every coach or fan you’d talk to would nominate a different fellow for the No. 1 here’s niche. For instance:
1—Hugh Gallarneau, who fumbled the opening kickoff into Packer hands so that Clarke Hinkle could bolt over for a touchdown that gave the Packers a surprise 7-0 lead after only a minute and 56 seconds of play, redeemed himself with a 81-yard touchdown gallop with a Hinkle punt not long after. “That was the test of a great ball player,” said one coach later. “Gallarneau was ‘tight’ and so were the Bears when play started but Gallarneau’s run shook them to normalcy and onto the highroad to victory.” Okay, Hugh, then, is a definitely a hero.
McLean Hero, Too
2—Gallarneau himself named as the No. 1 hero little Ray (“Scooter”) McLean. It wa a brilliant bit of blocking by McLean that set Hughie on this way on that touchdown gallop and , according to Gallarneau, McLean did more than block—he told Gallarneau where to run to make the touchdown possible
3—Norm Standlee, the curly-haired giant who came with Gallarneau from Stanford to make the Bears what they are today, gave a one-man imitation of Bronko Nagurski to spark the Bears to victory. Standlee drove for two touchdowns, gained 65 yards in 14 surges with the ball and tore the middle of the Packer line to shreds .Often referred to as a “second Nagurski,” Standlee yesterday proved as worthy as anyone can be to the mantle of the immortal Bronk.
4—Georgie Wilson, perhaps the most under-rated end in football.. George caught a pass to sete up one touchdown—his fifth catch of he five passes thrown to him this season—and intercepted two Packer throws to make the triumph doubly secure. The old “decoy,” for a day, had the air to himself.
What a Line
Most of all, however, it was a hard-charging and unstoppable line that told the story. The Bears’ forwards yielded only 35 yards of terrain all afternoon, as compared to the 267 they helped their backs grind out. Danny Fortmann, Lee Artoe, Ed Kolman, Joe Stydahar, Ray Bray, Al Forte, Ace Fedorovitch—all did such a terrific job that the middle of the Packer line was as full of holes as the Japenese alibi for attacking Pearl Harbor. Fortmann played himself into such a state of physical exhaustion that he was violently ill after the game, while the veteran Stydahar, at his physical peak for the first time this year, was like a kid out of school.
One more hurdle and the Bears will have accomplished something no other team ever has done in professional football since the installation of the playoff system—win two consecutive championships. And no matter what the Bears do next Sunday, they proved yesterday against their toughest and most persistent foe that they’re the greatest offensive unit in football history.
For the record, there’s how the scoring was accomplished:
Gallarneau fumbled the opening kickoff, Green Bay recovered and Hinkle plunged over to score, Hutson converting.
Gallarneau raced 81 yards with a Hinkle punt to coe, Snyder’s kick fo the tying point being blocked by Lee McLaughlin.
Snyder kicked a field goal from 23 yards to put the Bears ahead 9-7 early in the second period.
Two for Standlee
Standlee plowed three yards for a touchdown after Maniaci had recovered a Packer fumble on the 12-yard line. After this Stydahar kicked the first of his three conversions.
Standlee plunged two yards to score after McAftee had run 24 yards to set the stage.
Swisher romped nine yards around end on a perfect fake to make it 30-7 at the half.
Isbell passed 10 yards to Van Every for a touchdown, Hutson converting.
Snyder kicked his second field goal from 26 yards.