A Day In Wrigley Field History: November 24, 1940

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Bears had a big day against the Rams... the CLEVELAND Rams... on this day.

I would have very much liked to write about the Bears' 73-0 win over the Washington Redskins in the NFL championship game in 1940. That was an NFL record for points, and margin of victory, and 73 years later, it still is.

Unfortunately, that game was played in Washington, not in Wrigley Field. And since this is a history of Wrigley Field events, you'll have to settle for a review of the game that put the Bears within one game of clinching a spot in that title game, a 47-25 win over the Cleveland Rams two weeks earlier, on November 24. Yes, "Cleveland" Rams -- the Rams have had quite the odyssey, moving to Los Angeles in 1946 and then to St. Louis in 1995.

George Strickler recapped the game in the Tribune:

Ten touchdowns went over the goal line in Wrigley field, where the Bears added two field goals and five conversions to defeat the Cleveland Rams, 47 to 25, before 20,717.

The score was the second largest run up by one team this season, being outranked only by the 50 points the Packers scored yesterday. It was the seventh time two teams have made more than 50 points in one game and the Bears have been in three of them, all of which they won. They defeated the Packers, 41 to 10, and the Giants, 37 to 21. Fifty-eight points in the Giants game was the previous high for two teams in one game this year.

Passes filled the crisp, sunny afternoon as the Bears virtually gave Cleveland a seven point lead in the first few minutes yesterday, then rallied to take a commanding lead, before Parker Hall could bring Cleveland's chief weapons to bear on the one weak spot in their armor -- pass defense.

Sound a bit familiar? (This year for the Bears, it's run defense.)

After the Rams scored that first touchdown, the Bears rattled off 30 unanswered points, seven of which came on a 74-yard pass from Sid Luckman to Ken Kavanaugh. Luckman wasn't the only passer that day -- Bernie Masterson threw two touchdown passes, and the pair combined for a 10-for-21 day with 295 total yards, the three TD passes and one interception.

We'd take that from today's Bears, I think.

Since that 1940 game, the Bears have scored 47 or more points 26 other times in the intervening 73 years -- about once every three years. But of those games, 13 of them were in the 1940s, and just seven of them have been since 1965. The Bears just haven't been an offensive-minded team in recent years.

Finally, the 20,717 was a typical crowd in those days -- even though the Bears were a very good team. Pro football hadn't quite come into its own as a popular spectator sport. That wouldn't happen for almost two more decades; it would have to wait until television broadcast games nationally.

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