In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
First place in the Eastern Conference is on the line as the New York Giants host the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants jump out to a 10-0 lead at the half, but the Eagles rally to win 17-10. The winning touchdown is a 38-yard fumble scoop and return by Jimmy Carr. The game's iconic moment comes late in the fourth quarter when Chuck Bednarik knocks out Frank Gifford to clinch the win. Bednarik stands over a prone Gifford, celebrating by punching in the air. The win propels the Eagles to a championship, while Frank Gifford misses the next 18 months recovering from the concussion.
The New York Giants coached by Jimmy Lee Howell were the class of the Eastern Conference. They had played in three NFL Championship Games in the last four years, winning the title in 1956 and losing to the Baltimore Colts in 1958 and 1959. The Giants were off to a solid start at 5-1-1, but a costly tie against the woeful Washington Redskins had them a half-game behind the Philadelphia Eagles.
After winning two championships to close the 1940s, the Philadelphia Eagles struggled through most of the 1950s. The Eagles led by Buck Shaw stumbled in their first game in 1960, losing to the Cleveland Browns 41-24 at Franklin Field to start the season. The Eagles turned things around, winning their next six games, including a 31-29 rematch with the Browns in Cleveland.
The stage was set in the Eastern Conference as the Giants at 5-1-1, and the Eagles at 6-1 were set to play each other in consecutive weeks, with the first game at Yankee Stadium and the second game at Franklin Field. The Giants dominated the first half, taking a 10-0 lead. In the first quarter, Joe Morrison scored from the one, while Pat Summerall nailed a 26-yard field in the second quarter.
The Eagles were able to make adjustments at the half, as Norm Van Brocklin connected with Tommy McDonald on a 35-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Philadelphia tied the game with a 12-yard field goal by Bobby Watson. With momentum on the Eagles' side, the Philadelphia defense took over as Jimmy Carr picked up a fumble and raced 38 yards for the go-ahead score. In the final minutes, the Giants seeking to even the score were on the move when George Shaw hit Frank Gifford over the middle when Chuck Bednarik came in and hit the Giants star full force. The ball was jarred loose and recovered by Chuck Weber to clinch the win for the Eagles. Bednarik meanwhile stood over the prone Gifford celebrating.
The Eagles won the rematch a week later and won the East with a record of 10-2. They would go on to beat the Green Bay Packers 17-13 to win their third NFL Championship send coach Buck Shaw and quarterback Norm Van Brocklin into retirement with a championship. The Giants struggled the rest of the season, finishing 6-4-2 as Jim Lee Howell was fired at the end of the season. Frank Gifford would miss the entire 1961 season recovering from the hit that knocked him unconscious.
The picture of Chuck Bednarik standing over Frank Gifford became one of the iconic pictures of the era and defined Chuck Bednarik's career. Chuck Bednarik was the last of the 60-minute men in the NFL, playing both linebacker and center. The son of Slovakian immigrants, Bednarik was born on May 1, 1925, in Bethlehem, Pennslyvania. He was as tough as the steel his town was known for. During World War II, Chuck Bednarik served as a gunner in the U.S. Army Air Force. He earned the Air Medal and four battle stars during his service of 30 combat missions.
After the war, Chuck Bednarik attended the University of Pennsylvania and finished third in Heisman voting 1948. The following year he was picked first overall by the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles won a second consecutive NFL Championship in 1949. Bednarik was a ten-time All-Pro, as he averaged 58 minutes a game playing center and linebacker. Bednarik worked construction in the off-season, earning the nickname Concrete Charlie.