1940 NFL Championship Game

1940 NFL Championship Game

1940 NFL Championship Game
1 2 3 4 Total
Chicago Bears 21 7 26 19 73
Washington Redskins 0 0 0 0 0
Date December 8, 1940
Stadium Griffith Stadium
City Washington, D.C.
Attendance 36,034
TV/Radio in the United States
Radio Network Mutual
Radio Announcers Red Barber
Previous game Next game
1939 1941

The 1940 National Football League Championship Game, was the 8th in NFL history. The game was played at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. on December 8, 1940. The Chicago Bears defeated the Washington Redskins, 73–0, the most one-sided victory in NFL history. The game was broadcast on radio by Mutual Broadcasting System, the first NFL title game broadcast nationwide.


Washington had defeated Chicago 7–3 in a regular season game three weeks earlier. After the contest, Redskins owner Clark Shaughnessy, who was concurrently coaching the undefeated Stanford Indians, helped the Bears' gameplan. Shaughnessy devised several counters for linebacker shifts that he had noted the Redskins using.[1]

Game summary

The Bears controlled the game right from the start, using the T formation as their primary offensive strategy. On their second play from scrimmage, running back Bill Osmanski ran 68 yards for a touchdown. Washington then marched to the Chicago 26-yard line on their ensuing drive, but wide receiver Charlie Malone dropped a sure touchdown pass in the end zone that would have tied the game.

Later in the first quarter, Bears Quarterback Sid Luckman scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to increase the lead 14–0. On their third drive, Joe Maniaci ran 42 yards for the Bears' third touchdown of the game.

The Bears held a 28–0 halftime lead and then continued to crush the Redskins, scoring 45 points during the second half. After Halas took the team's starters out, the backup players continued to pile on the points. The Bears ended up recording 501 total yards on offense, 382 total rushing yards, and 8 interceptions—returning 3 for touchdowns.

So many footballs were kicked into the stands after touchdowns that officials asked Halas to run or pass for the PAT on the last two TDs.[2]

This game also marked the last time that an NFL player (Bears end Dick Plasman) played without a helmet.[1]

Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh was interviewed after the game, and a sportswriter asked him whether the game would have been different had Malone not dropped the tying TD pass. Baugh reportedly quipped, "Sure. The final score would have been 73–7."[2]


As of 1 October 2014, the game still marks the most lopsided victory in NFL history. Chicago's 73 points remains the most ever scored by one team in league history, in the regular season or postseason.[3] Chicago's seven rushing touchdowns is the second-most touchdowns (by both teams in one game) in league history, and the most ever in a post season game.[4]

The First Fifty Years, a 1969 book that chronicles the first half-century of the NFL, listed the game as one of "Ten [Games] That Mattered" to the growth of pro football in the United States.[5] "On a Sunday in the 1940 December," the book states, "the Chicago Bears played perfect football for a greater percentage of the official hour than any team before or since. In the championship game, as an underdog to the team which had just beaten them, the Bears made an eleven-touchdown pile and used it as a pedestal to raise the NFL to view in all corners of the country. ... Pro football, the T-formation and the Chicago Bears were the sudden sports news of the year."

Scoring summary

  • CHI TD – Osmanski 68-yard run (Manders kick) CHI 7–0
  • CHI TD – Luckman 1-yard run (Snyder kick) CHI 14–0
  • CHI TD – Maniaci 42-yard run (Martinovich kick) CHI 21–0
  • CHI TD – Kavanaugh 30-yard pass from Luckman (Snyder kick) CHI 28–0
  • CHI TD – Pool 15-yard interception return (Plasman kick) CHI 35–0
  • CHI TD – Nolting 23-yard run (kick failed) CHI 41–0
  • CHI TD – McAfee 35-yard interception return (Stydahar kick) CHI 48–0
  • CHI TD – Turner 20-yard interception return (kick failed) CHI 54–0
  • CHI TD – Clarke 44-yard run (kick failed) CHI 60–0
  • CHI TD – Famiglietti 2-yard run (Maniaci pass from Sherman) CHI 67–0
  • CHI TD – Clarke 1-yard run (pass failed) CHI 73–0

Final statistics

Source: 3

Statistical comparison

Chicago Bears Washington Redskins
First downs 17 17
First downs rushing 13 4
First downs passing 3 10
First downs penalty 1 3
Total yards 501 245
Passing yards 119 223
Passing – Completions-attempts 7–10 20–51
Passing – Yards per attempt 11.9 4.4
Interceptions-return yards 8–117 0–0
Rushing yards 382 22
Rushing attempts 57 14
Yards per rush 6.7 1.6
Penalties-yards 3–25 8–70
Fumbles-lost 2–1 4–1
Punts-Average 2–46.0 3–41.3

Individual leaders

Bears Passing
Sid Luckman 3/4 88 1 0
Snyder 3/3 31 0 0
Bears Rushing
Cara Yds TD LGb
Bill Osmanski 10 109 1 68
Clark 8 73 2 44
Maniaci 6 60 2 42
Nolting 13 68 1 23
Bears Receiving
Recc Yds TD LGb
Maniaci 3 39 0 n/a
Kavanaugh 2 32 1 30
Redskins Passing
Sammy Baugh 10/17 102 0 2
Frankie Filchock 7/23 87 0 5
Redskins Rushing
Cara Yds TD LGb
Filchock 2 20 0 n/a
Seymour 4 16 0 n/a
Justice 1 1 0 n/a
Johnson 5 0 0 n/a
Redskins Receiving
Recc Yds TD LGb
Millner 5 84 0 n/a
Masterson 3 33 0 n/a

*Completions/Attempts aCarries bLong play cReceptions


  1. ^ a b Douglas A. Noverr, The Games They Played: Sports in American History, 1865–1980, p. 143, Rowman & Littlefield, 1983, ISBN 0-88229-819-4.
  2. ^ a b "Hall of Famers » SAMMY BAUGH". Profootballhof.com. Retrieved September 22, 2012. 
  3. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com: In a single game, from 1940 to 2011, in the regular season and playoffs, sorted by descending Points For.
  4. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com: In a single game, from 1940 to 2011, in the regular season and playoffs, sorted by descending Rushing TD.
  5. ^ The First Fifty Years: A Celebration of the National Football League in its Fiftieth Season, Simon and Schuster, Inc., Copyright 1969, ASIN: B0018NJUO0
  • Nash, Bruce, and Allen Zullo (1986). The Football Hall of Shame, 80–82, Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-74551-4.
  • The Sporting News Complete Super Bowl Book 1995, 391, The Sporting News Publishing Co. ISBN 0-89204-523-X.
  • ¹Peterson, Robert. "Pigskin: The Early Years of Pro Football" (1997) p. 132 Oxford University Press ISBN 0195076079
  • 2Taylor, Roy. "1940's Chicago Bears, Another Dynasty" (2004) http://www.bearshistory.com/seasons/1940schicagobears.aspx
  • 3The NFL's Official Encyclopedic History of Professional Football, (1973), p. 105, Macmillan Publishing Co. New York, NY, LCCN No. 73-3862