Revenge games in today’s NFL are mild. Sure, the Buffalo Bills beat up on the New England Patriots during the AFC Wild Card on Jan. 15 at Highmark Stadium. But Buffalo didn’t continue piling up points once the score was in doubt. Since 1922, the most common margins of victory 3, 4, 6, 7, and 10 account for 42.5 percent of the results of all games played.
But there was one game in the pre-Super Bowl era that produced a score we will likely never see again. The reason for the savage beating was rumored to be due to a remark made by one of the team’s owners. There’s also a story from the game that says so many balls were kicked into the stands, the referees asked the winning coach to go for two on his final couple touchdowns. Even NFL Odds have a hard time defining the 1940 NFL championship game.
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There was a title game before the Super Bowl
The NFL instituted a championship game in the 1933 season that matched the winner of the Eastern and Western divisions. The Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins were two of the most successful teams of that era.
The two teams would meet in 1937, 1940, 1942, and 1943 versions of the game, with each team winning two meets.
However, it was the 73-0 scoreline from the 1940 game that stands out the most. Chicago intentionally put a beatdown on its foes.
George Preston Marshall: Showman and Jerk
During the 1940 season, the Bears and Redskins met on Nov. 17, 1940, in a regular season game that Washington won 7-3. While it had a relatively innocuous scoreline, Redskins owner George Preston Marshall added fuel to the fire by saying the Bears coach George Halas and his team were quitters and cry babies.
Marshall had initially founded the Redskins as the Boston Braves in 1932.
Marshall was mostly known as an agitator. He promoted a gentlemen’s agreement where no teams would sign black players until 1946, when two other owners broke it. He didn’t sign a black player until Robert F. Kennedy issued him an ultimatum in 1962.
Papa Bear doesn’t like name-calling
Halas used the comments from Marshall as fuel for his Bears. Chicago would score 78 points in its last two games to earn the Western Division title with an 8-3 record. The Bears were led by quarterback Sid Luckman, who led the team with 941 passing yards.
Chicago had five ball carriers accrue 200 or more yards.
The Bears leading rusher was Ray Nolting, who finished with 373 yards on 78 carries. Gary Famiglietti led the team with four rushing touchdowns.
Revenge is Chicago’s
The Bears didn’t wait long before scoring more points than they did in the first meeting. Bill Osmanski scored on a 68-yard touchdown run less than a minute into the game on Chicago’s first possession.
Washington would drive to the Bears’ 26-yard line on the next possession, but Charlie Malone dropped a pass from Sammy Baugh in the endzone.
Whether Malone caught the pass or not, Washington would have been delaying the inevitable. Chicago built a 28-0 lead by halftime and would continue to pour it on in the second half. The Bears finished with 501 total yards and returned three interceptions for touchdowns in the third quarter.
A lasting victory
Even with the expansion of playoffs as the popularity of the NFL has grown over the years, few teams have ever gotten close to 73 points, let alone score enough to beat their opponent by that many. The Jacksonville Jaguars beat their in-state rivals, the Miami Dolphins, 62-7 in Dan Marino’s final game.
No one in Miami had called any of Jacksonville’s players cry babies.
The Oakland Raiders beat Houston 56-7 in the 1969 AFL playoffs, while the Buffalo Bills piled on the Raiders with a 51-3 victory in the 1991 AFC championship game. The second-largest margin of victory in a shutout in playoff history is tied between two teams.
The Jets beat the Colts 41-0 in the 2003 AFC Wild Card, and the New York Giants beat the Minnesota Vikings 41-0 in the 2001 NFC championship game.