Game Notes: Packers vs Bears 11/15/42

Packer-Bear games were always meaningful prior to World War II, but by the early 1940s, the Bears’ juggernaut was in a class by itself. The Bears were the only team the Packers would lose to in 1942, but they did so twice, against two opposing coaches. George Halas left the Bears for the military after game five and left his offensive coach, Luke Johnsos, and his defensive coach, Hunk Anderson, in charge. On opening day in Green Bay, a couple of fourth quarter turnovers turned a close game into a rout. Seven weeks later, Green Bay traveled to Wrigley Field with a 6-1 record to meet the 7-0 Bears, but the Bear defense again put the game out of reach…this time earlier.

Fullback Chuck Sample fumbled on the game’s fourth play right into the arms of Bulldog Turner who raced 42 yards for a 7-0 lead. When the Bears got the ball on offense, Harry Clarke burst up the middle untouched for a 40-yard touchdown that was nullified by a penalty. Soon after, Sid Luckman threw a pass into the end zone that the Packers picked off. Baby Ray also had a nice sack in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Green Bay drove to the Bears’ Red Zone, but turned the ball over on downs. The next time the Packers got the ball at midfield, Sid Luckman intercepted a pass by Cecil Isbell and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown. 14-0. Before the half, Green Bay again turned the ball over on downs, but this time at their own 30. Charlie O’Rourke came in for Luckman and threw a long pass to Bob Nowaskey, and then John Petty ran it in from the two. 21-0 at the half.

In the third quarter, the Bears scored on a field goal and then blocked a punt. However, a Luckman touchdown pass was brought back due to penalty and then Sid was picked off by Don Hutson in the end zone. The Bears extended their lead to 31-0 late in the third quarter on a 29-yard O’Rourke pass to future Packer coach Scooter McLean.

In the final quarter, Green Bay launched a long drive in which Don Hutson caught four passes including a seven-yard scoring toss from Cecil Isbell. The Bears then started to expand their playbook. From their 35, Chicago lined up with one end spread wide, one back in the slot and Scooter McLean in motion to the left. Although it looked like Green Bay was offside, the play continued. Harry Jacunski moved laterally to pick up McLean, but perhaps he stopped because of the apparent penalty. When next the camera picks up McLean, he is catching the ball 30 yards downfield with no one else in the frame, and it’s an easy 65-yard touchdown. 38-7.

Before the end of the game, the Bears try two gimmick plays. On the first, each side of the line shifts very wide away from the center. The center then laterals the ball to halfback Harry Clarke who in turn laterals back to Sid Luckman who passes to McLean 20 yards down the field. On the final play of the game, the Bears use the same alignment, but this time, the center raises up and laterals to McLean who laterals to Luckman who throws short to Connie Berry for no gain.

On defense, the Bears were very active before the snap, jumping around and causing confusion. Several times they aligned in a 3-4 scheme, and Green Bay had no answer for Hunk Anderson’s clever strategies.

Hutson, playing with a sore foot, caught 10 passes for 117 yards and intercepted two passes. Of the 54 offensive plays he was in, Don lined up wide 33 times, mostly at left end, but sometimes on the right. In the 10 other Packer offensive plays, an end lined up wide just twice. On occasion, Andy Uram lined up as a flanker.

In 1942, the Bears went undefeated and led the league in scoring with 34.2 per game and in defense by allowing just 7.6 per game. They outscored opponents by 4 touchdowns per game, but lost the title game to the Redskins 14-6. The Packers finished second to the Bears in the West and in scoring (27.3 points per game). The Packer defense, though, dropped to eighth, giving up 19.5 points per game.

1942cisbell2  1942dhutson

Custom cards are colorized.

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