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75 Years Ago: NFL Action on “A Day That Will Live in Infamy” 0

Posted on December 04, 2016 by Dean Hybl
December 7, 1941 was Tuffy Leemans' Day at the New York Giants football game.

December 7, 1941 was Tuffy Leemans’ Day at the New York Giants football game.

The first Sunday in December of 1941 began much like Sundays have for years prior and for the 75 years since.  The morning for many included a church service and then was followed by Sunday afternoon National Football League action.

Though the NFL in 1941 was not the Sunday national obsession that it has become over the past 75 years, there was still excitement for the final three games of the regular season.

In New York, a crowd of 55,051 packed the Polo Grounds for “Tuffy Leemans’ Day” as the New York Giants were recognizing their All-Pro running back in the final regular season game of his sixth NFL season. Leemans had led the NFL in rushing with 830 yards as a rookie in 1936 and as was common during the era, he was a multi-threat who also could be a passer, receiver, punt returner and play defense. He would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978.

The Giants entered the game with an 8-2 record and having already clinched the East Division title. Their opponents, the cross-town rival Brooklyn Dodgers (yes the Brooklyn Dodgers was also the name of an NFL team from 1930-1943) entered the game with a 6-4 record.

Brooklyn had defeated the Giants 16-13 earlier in the season, but a recent loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers had knocked the Dodgers out of contention for the division title.

On this afternoon, Brooklyn All-Pro Pug Manders was a one-man-show as he scored touchdown in the second, third and fourth quarters to give the Dodgers a 21-0 lead. He sandwiched touchdown runs of three and two yards with a 65-yard interception return for a score. The Giants made the final score 21-7 when Kay Fakin caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from Hank Soar.

As would be the case in all the NFL Stadiums that day, soon after the Pearl Harbor Bombing commenced at 12:55 Eastern time, the public address announcer told all servicemen in attendance to report to their units immediately.

At Griffith Stadium in Washington, DC, the Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles were each finishing out the season. The Redskins were 5-5 on the year, while the Eagles were 2-7-1 entering the final contest.

In front of a crowd of 27,102, the Eagles scored early on a run by Jack Banta. Future Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh hit Al Krueger for a 19-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to tie the contest.

The Eagles regained the lead in the third quarter with a six-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Thompson to Hank Piro to make the score 14-7.

By the time Baugh tossed a pair of fourth quarter touchdown passes to Joe Aguirre to secure the 20-14 victory, many of the initial audience was likely gone. Soon after the bombings, the Public Address Announcer started to page high-ranking government and military leaders, though he did not mention the attacks. Read the rest of this entry →

Injuries, Suspensions, and Losses Force Cowboys to Catch Up in Messy NFC East 0

Posted on October 19, 2015 by Chris Kent
The loss of pro bowl wide receiver Dez Bryant in the season opener has left a huge void in the Cowboys' offense. Bryant suffered a broken bone in his right foot against the Giants and had surgery the next day. He is expected to return later this season.

The loss of pro bowl wide receiver Dez Bryant has left a huge void for Dallas. Bryant suffered a broken bone in his right foot in the season-opener against the Giants and had surgery the next day. He is expected to return later this season.

The significant injuries to the skill players of the Dallas Cowboys have left them without their star power this season and made the NFC East more even. Wide receiver Dez Bryant’s broken right foot, quarterback Tony Romo’s fractured left clavicle, and the loss of Lance Dunbar for the rest of the season due to a torn ACL have turned the Cowboys into a more predictable and ordinary team.

These injuries and others along with suspensions have left Dallas playing without a full deck all season. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick was lost for the season with a torn ACL in training camp and prized rookie defensive end Randy Gregory suffered a high ankle sprain in the 27-26 season-opening win over the New York Giants and his been out ever since. Linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive end Greg Hardy were both suspended for the first four games before each played in their first game this season on Oct. 11.

As a result, the division has been and will be more competitive this season. The playing field has been leveled. All four teams can beat each other on any given day and nine wins could win this division this year unless a team gets on a big winning streak. Philadelphia and the Giants both started the season 0-2 and the Eagles have not been as strong as expected. Washington plays up-and-down football, is mostly stuck in mediocrity, and is always looking up in the division. Heading into week six, New York led the division at 3-2 while everyone else was 2-3. Although the Cowboys have lost three straight, their 2-0 division mark was a plus at this time.

Coming into this season, Philadelphia was supposed to be a high powered team under Chip Kelly’s up- tempo style. The signing of Sam Bradford and 2014 NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray were believed to give the Eagles the upper hand in the division but their offense has not shown it. The Giants were an unknown and the Redskins fortunes were unpredictable with questions at quarterback. Read the rest of this entry →

Frank Gifford Was A Legend On the Field and In the Booth 1

Posted on August 09, 2015 by Dean Hybl
NFL Hall of Famer Frank Gifford has passed away at the age of 84.

NFL Hall of Famer Frank Gifford has passed away at the age of 84.

The sports world has lost a sports legend with the passing on Sunday of former New York Giants Hall of Famer Frank Gifford at the age of 84.

A star at the University of Southern California and then on one of the glamour teams in the NFL, Gifford went on to become a key part of the most talked about announcing trio in football history.

A native Californian, Gifford attended Bakersfield High School and Bakersfield Junior College before becoming an All-American halfback for the Trojans.

Selected by the New Yok Giants in the first round of the 1952 NFL Draft, Gifford immediately became an important building block on a Giants team that by 1956 was among the best in the NFL.

Initially playing both offense and defense, Gifford earned Pro Bowl honors in just his second season. He would go on to earn Pro Bowl honors for seven straight years and was a four-time first team All-Pro.

In 1956 Gifford was named the NFL MVP as he rushed for a career-high 819 yards and led the NFL with 1,422 yards from scrimmage. The Giants won the World Championship with a dominating 47-7 victory over the Chicago Bears in which Gifford caught passes for 131 yards and a touchdown and also had 30 yards rushing.

The Giants reached back-to-back NFL Championship Games in 1958 and 1959, but lost both times to the Baltimore Colts. Read the rest of this entry →

Hoyt Wilhem: Knuckleball Workhorse 4

Posted on April 07, 2014 by Dean Hybl

The April Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was 29-years-old when he made his major league debut, but still managed to pitch for 21 years and become the first pitcher in MLB history to appear in more than 1,000 games.

Hoyt Wilhelm made his professional baseball debut as a 19-year-old in 1942, but after serving in World War II (earning a Purple Heart during the Battle of the Bulge) and then spending five years in the minor leagues it wasn’t until 10 years later that he would make his major league debut. Read the rest of this entry →

Broncos Outlast Cowboys, Patriots and Seahawks Fall From Perfection: Week 5 NFL Headlines 1

Posted on October 08, 2013 by Andy Larmand

As we took off into the second quarter of the season (for most teams), the fascinating phenomena kept rolling in. Included in this week’s list is something that hasn’t happened to the New England offense in seven years, a first for any quarterback since the merger, the continuation of home dominance for one NFC North team, a record-tying day for one tight end and an offensive outburst in Dallas. Here are your Week 5 NFL headlines.

Travis Benjamin had a career night in the return game for the red-hot Browns.

Travis Benjamin had a career night in the return game for the red-hot Browns.

The Browns scored their first rushing touchdown of the season (and it wasn’t Trent Richardson) in their fifth game and stayed perfect when starting quarterback Brian Hoyer as they beat the Bills, 37-24, on Thursday night. They did, however, lose Hoyer for the season with a partially torn ACL suffered early in the game. Cleveland punt returner, Travis Benjamin, tied a franchise record with 166 punt return yards in the win for the first-place Browns. Their 37 points were the most they have scored in a game since putting up 41 back in 2009. Since Week 3, they are averaging 28.3 points per game after averaging eight points per game in the first two weeks.

The Patriots fell from the ranks of the unbeaten and the Bengals improved to 6-22 against the AFC East since 1998 as New England managed only six points in the 13-6 loss. The six points were the fewest for the high-powered New England offense since being shut out on Dec. 10, 2006, 21-0, in Week 14 against Miami. The Bengals’ 5-22 record had been the third-worst against one division in that span. Andy Dalton’s first-quarter interception in the red zone was the first red-zone pick of his career. Tom Brady fell two short of the all-time record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass as he failed to record one in game No. 53. The Pats had won 63 straight games when allowing 13 points or less with their last such loss coming in 2001. Read the rest of this entry →

Chiefs, Giants Among Surprises, Luck Ties Impressive Mark: Week 4 NFL Headlines 1

Posted on October 01, 2013 by Andy Larmand
The Saints' offense, led by Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles, has them off to a 4-0 start.

The Saints’ offense, led by Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles (43), has them off to a 4-0 start.

For the first time in 2013, the NFL traveled across the pond to Wembley Stadium in Week 4 for a matchup of a couple of surprise 0-3 teams and did not disappoint the locals. Also featured is Andrew Luck matching an impressive quarterback mark, a double-digit, fourth-quarter comeback in Houston, Denver scoring and then scoring some more and the Chiefs improving to 4-0. Perhaps more notably, the blue team in New York is now 0-4.

The 49ers and Rams began the week in an NFC West showdown on Thursday night and after two straight losses in Weeks 2 and 3, the Niners kept a three-game losing streak off of Jim Harbaugh’s resume with a 35-11 rout of St. Louis. Harbaugh has still never lost three in a row as 49ers head coach. The Rams finished the night with 18 total rushing yards on 19 attempts. They have now recorded less than 100 yards on the ground in nine straight games. Also, they were the first team since 2008 with 19-plus rush attempts and 18 or fewer yards. They were also the last team to do that. San Fran improved to 5-0 all-time when Colin Kaepernick throws two or more touchdown passes.

The Vikings scored a first-quarter touchdown for the eighth straight game as Christian Ponder connected with Greg Jennings from 70 yards out to help them get up, 10-0, on the Steelers in London. The eight straight with a touchdown in the first quarter is a team record for them. Pittsburgh is 0-4 for the first time since 1968. Jennings needs just two more 70-yard touchdown receptions to tie the all-time record of nine held by Jerry Rice.

Read the rest of this entry →

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