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On This Date in Sports December 8, 1940: The Blowout

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

It is the biggest blowout in the history of the NFL. It was an NFL Championship Game, and it was the first NFL game to air nationally on the radio. Using the T-Formation, the Chicago Bears rocked the Washington Redskins 73-0 at Griffith Stadium to win their fourth NFL Championship. It was a complete annihilation in every sense, as the Bears had over 500 yards in total offense and had eight interceptions, returning three for touchdowns. 

As the NFL was starting its third decade, the league was growing. Gone from the sandlot miscreants of the founding years, the league was now getting respect as the Mutual Broadcasting System was airing the 1940 NFL Championship Game across the nation for the first time. The NFL could not have a better matchup as the Chicago Bears, who had won the first official championship game in 1933, and the 1932 tiebreaker championship, were back in the title game for the first time since 1937. That year the Bears lost to the Washington Redskins 28-21. Their opponents were the same Redskins who were seeking their second NFL title.

The Chicago Bears, coached by George Halas, were entering a golden era as the 1940s began. Sid Luckman was in his second season and prepared to run the T-Formation into legendary status. The Bears had selected Clyde "Bulldog" Turner with the seventh overall pick. Turner would become one of the best linemen in NFL history, providing legendary play on both offense and defense as he helped the Bears win an NFL Championship in four of his first seven seasons in the NFL. 

After winning the 1937 NFL Championship in their first season in Washington, the Redskins failed to win the Eastern Divison in the next two seasons for coach Ray Flaherty. However, in 1940 with Sammy Baugh having a big season, they jumped out to a 7-0 start and returned to the NFL Championship Game with a record of 9-2. Late in the season, the Redskins beat the Bears 7-3 in an intense battle at Griffith Stadium that left both teams hungry for a rematch in the NFL Championship Game. 

The Bears had finished the season 8-3, winning their final two games after their November 17th loss in Washington. After their win, Redskins owner George Preston Marshall called the Bears a punch of "Cry Babies." Bears owner and coach George Halas motivated his team by showing articles containing Marshall's comments in the week leading up to the game. With the bulletin board material lighting a fire, the Bears returned to Washington looking to win and embarrass the Redskins at the same time.

The Bears took control right away as Bill Osmanski had a 68-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage. The Redskins had a chance to tie the game, but Charlie Malone dropped a 26-yard pass in the end zone. The Redskins would miss the ensuing field goal and remain down 7-0. After the game, Sammy Baugh was asked if the drop would have made a difference; he said, "yes, the score would have been 73-7." 


The Bears extended the lead to 14-0 l on a one-yard run by Sid Luckman. While Joe Maniaci made it 21-0 at the end of the first quarter with a 42-yard touchdown run. Sid Luckman hit Ken Kavanaugh on a 30-yard pass for the only score in the second quarter to extend the lead to 28-0 at the half. 

With a 28-0 lead at halftime, the Bears continued to put the foot on Washington's throat as Hampton Pool had a 15-yard pick-six to make it 35-0. On the Bears' first offensive possession of the second half, Ray Nolting had a 23-yard run to make it 41-0 as the PAT failed. George McAfee had a. 35-yard interception return, and Bulldog Turner returned a pick 20 yards to extend the lead to 54 nothing entering the third quarter. 

Even with the reserves in the game, the Bears continued to dominate as  Harry Clarke had a 44-yard touchdown run to make it 60-0 in the fourth quarter. With nine touchdowns and nine PAT attempts, the officials were running out of footballs, as there were no kicking nets. This led the officials to make the Bears run or pass for the PAT following their last two touchdowns. Gary Famiglietti had a two-yard run, and Clarke had a one-yard run, making the final score 73-0.

The Bears would win three NFL Championships in four years, playing in four straight championship games between 1940-1943. Their lone loss was when the Redskins getting revenge for 73-0, spoiled the Bears' perfect season with a 14-6 win in 1942.