On This Date in Sports December 19, 1948: The Blizzard Bowl

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The Philadelphia Eagles beat the Chicago Cardinals 7-0 to win their first NFL Championship at Shibe Park in blizzard-like conditions. The snowfall was heavy and steady throughout the game, stunting the offense for both teams. Scoreless until the fourth quarter, the Cardinals opened the door for Philadelphia when quarterback Ray Mallouf fumbled at the 17, three players later Steve Van Buren scored the game’s lone touchdown.

The 1947 NFL Championship saw a new day for the NFL as the Chicago Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles played a thriller at Comiskey Park won by the Cardinals 28-21. It was the first title game for both teams. The Cardinals coached by Jimmy Connzelman were even better the following season, posting a record of 11-1, with their lone loss coming in Week 2 to the Chicago Bears. The Eagles stumbled early in 1948, losing the season-opening rematch to the Cardinals and tying the Los Angeles Rams in Week 2. However, under the guidance of Greasy Neale won nine of their last ten game to win the Eastern Division with a record of 9-2-1 as Steve Van Buren won his second straight rushing title with 945 yards.

It was a big moment in NFL history as it marked the first time that the Championship Game was televised with Harry Wismer and Red Grange calling the action on ABC. However, the start of the game was put in jeopardy due to heavy snow. There was even talk of postponing the game, but instead, the game started two hours late to allow more fans to attend the game. With four inches already on the ground, the Eagles offered any fan with a shovel a free ticket for helping to ready the field. The delay was a good thing for the Eagles as their star running back Steve Van Buren had trouble getting to the game, while both players helped remove the tarp from the field.

Once the game began, it was obvious just how difficult it would be to play the game. Slick conditions, poor visibility which at times was less than a foot and accumulating snow made it hard for both teams to move the ball. The passing game was essentially eliminated by the whiteout conditions and blowing snow as the Cardinals and Eagles combined for just 19 yards through the air on five completions. Each team turned the ball over three times, as the game was scoreless through three quarters. One player who was able to put up big numbers as Steve Van Buren who had 98 yards on 26 carries. Late in the third quarter, Ray Mallouf attempting a handoff fumbled the ball setting up the Eagles on the Chicago 17. The Eagles were on the verge of scoring as the fourth quarter began, finally breaking the tie with a five-yard run by Van Buren. It would be the game’s only score as the Eagles won the game 7-0 to claim the NFL Championship.

The Eagles would win a second straight championship in 1949, while the Cardinals would not win another playoff game until 1998 after moving through St. Louis and onto Arizona. The 7-0 score would be the lowest scoring NFL playoff game until 1970 when the Dallas Cowboys beat the Detroit Lions 5-0.