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On This Date in Sports December 21, 1941: This Bears Repeating

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The Chicago Bears become the first team to win the NFL Championship Game in consecutive seasons. The Bears defeat the New York Giants 37-9 at Wrigley Field. The Bears needed to play an extra playoff game, beating the Green Bay Packers 33-14 a week earlier to win the Western Division. The game was tied 9-9 in the early part of the third quarter, before the Bears pulled away, scoring 28 unanswered points. Norm Standlee had a pair of touchdowns while rushing for 89 yards. The game had just 13,341 fans as the bombings of Pearl Harbor, and the start of World War II had fans reluctant to attend any sporting events. 

The Chicago Bears, coached by George Halas, were the "Monsters of the Midway." The dominant team in the NFL was fresh off their 73-0 win over the Washington Redskins in the 1940 NFL Championship Game. The Bears posted a record of 10-1 in 1941, losing to the Green Bay Packers 16-14 at Wrigley Field in Week 6. The Bears had beaten the Packers 25-17 in the season opener in Green Bay. The two rivals each finished 10-1 and played in the Divisional Playoffs for a trip to the title game. The Bears won the game 33-14, powered by a 24-point second quarter. 

The New York Giants won the NFL's Eastern Division. They posted a record of 8-3 for coach Steve Owen, finishing one game ahead of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Giants were a team of comebacks, as Ed Danowski and Mel Hein were lured out of retirement while Tuffy Leemans returned from a back injury. 

Two weeks before the Championship Game, the United States was stunned by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The attacks occurred just as the NFL was playing its final games of the season. With men signing up for the military and World War II starting for the USA, football was left on the back burner. Just 13,341 fans were in attendance for the NFL Championship Game in Chicago. It was the smallest crowd in the history of the NFL Championship Game. 

The Bears were a two-touchdown favorite in the game. It was the third time the Bears and Giants met in the NFL Championship. The Bears won in 1933, while New York upset the Bears in the sneakers game in 1934. The Giants gave the Bears a fight in the first half, taking a 6-3 lead on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Tuffy Leemans to George Franck. Ward Cuff's PAT was no good. In the second quarter, the Bears got a pair of field goals from Bob Snyder and held a 9-6 lead at the half. 

The rest of the game would belong to the Bears. The Giants took the opening drive of the third quarter and tied the game 9-9 on a 16-yard field goal by Ward Cuff. Chicago answered with a two-yard touchdown run by Norm Standlee. Standlee added a seven-yard touchdown run as the Bears began to pull away in the third quarter. The Bears' defense forced five turnovers picking off Leemans three times. In the fourth quarter, George McAfee, who ran for 81 yards, had a five-yard run for a touchdown to stretch the lead to 37-9. The Bears completed the scoring with a 42-yard fumble return by Ken Kavanaugh.