Giants Come Up One Trick Short Against the Bears
The very first NFL Championship Game in 1933 has seldom been equaled in the ensuing 75 seasons of title games and Super Bowls. The game featured six lead changes, and all five touchdowns were set up or scored on passing plays, highly unusual for this ground-oriented era. During the season, New York scored the most points and the Bears gained the most yards in the league, and both won their conference crown by at least three games. They were the two best teams in the NFL by far, and they proved it on this cold, misty day in Wrigley Field.
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Early on, the Giants set the quirky tempo for this game with the trickiest play of the day. They lined up with only an end to the left of center Mel Hein. Before the ball was snapped, that end dropped back into the backfield as a wingback, while the wingback on the right side shifted up to the line. According to the rules of the time, Hein was now an eligible receiver. Hein hiked the ball to Harry Newman, who slid the ball right back to the center. Pretending to have the ball, Newman dropped back to pass and the Bears defense followed. When George Musso tackled Newman, he bellowed, “Where the hell’s the ball?” Meanwhile, Hein hid the ball under his shirt and started slowly downfield, but he quickly got impatient and began running. Bears safety Keith Molesworth saw through the trick and brought Hein down after a gain of several yards.
That drive led to no points, though. Instead, the Bears got on the board first after a Bronko Nagurski interception in the first quarter led to a Jack Manders field goal. The Bears then got a second field goal after another drive in the second quarter. The Giants finally answered with a drive of their own that ended with a 29-yard touchdown pass from Newman to Red Badgro for the first lead change of the day. Manders missed a short field-goal try just before halftime, and the Giants went to the locker room leading 7-6.
Manders kicked his third field goal in the third period to take the lead back, but
No amount of offensive trickery could push the Giants past Bill Hewitt (lateraling) and the Bears in the 1933 NFL Championship Game.
Although the hidden-ball trick is a staple in movies such as Little Giants, it is too outlandish for any NFL team to try, right? The Giants not only tried it in a game, they tried it in the very first NFL Championship Game in 1933. The Giants came out and set up in a very unbalanced line, with only an end to the left of center Mel Hein. Before the ball was snapped, that end, Red Badgro (17), dropped into the backfield as a wingback while the wingback on the other side, Dale Burnett (18), shifted to the line. This made Mel Hein an eligible receiver, since he was now on the end of the line. Harry Newman (12) took a direct snap from Hein and surreptitiously slipped the ball right back to him. Newman faded back to pass and drew the charge of the Bears defense, while Hein stuffed the ball under his shirt and started walking downfield. Once Hein started to run, though, safety Keith Molesworth spotted the trick and tackled him.
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