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  Baugh Stars as Redskins Annex Title

By Shirley Povich
Washington Post Staff Writer
December 13, 1937; Page 1

Wrigley Field, Chicago, Dec. 12—In a wild frenzied battle for points on the frozen turf of Wrigley Field, the deft arm of Slingin’ Sammy Baugh prevailed today and Washington’s Redskins emerged as the champions of the National Football League.

From the stabbing efforts of Baugh’s rapier-like heaves, the big bruising Chicago Bears, champions of the West, reeled and stumbled and finally yielded to the Redskins, 28 to 21. It was a triumph of Baugh over brawn, of East over West.

Huddled in the stands, Spartan-like, in the sub-freezing temperature that hovered around 20 degrees, were 15,878 football fans who had heard tell of Baugh and the Redskins saw for themselves today. It was a dissapointingly small crowd, but it was a lot of football that they witnessed.

At the end of the half the game belonged to the Bears by a score of 14 to 7, with the Redskins seemingly in rout as Nagurski and Manders and Nolting and Masterson poured through the Washington line and bulled their way into the lead.

And then, in the third quarter, Sammy Baugh began to strike. Once, twice three times he uncoiled the deadliest of all throwing arms and each time he found a receiver for touchdown passes. Into that third period Baugh and the Redskins packed a 21-point uprising, dashed away with the ball game as a gang of bewildered Bears had no reply.

It was a mob of infuriated Bears that gave ground before Baugh and late in the fourth quarter, when tempers were short and the title was slipping out of the paws of the Bears, fighting broke out.

In a wild melee of fist slinging that took place beyond the sidelines near the Washington bench, Baugh was the central figure off the field even as he was on the field.

For it was a punch aimed at Baugh by 210-pound 6-foot-3 Dick Plasman, big bad Bear end who played his college football at Vanderbilt that set off the flareup of open fist slinging that had been taking place surreptitiously in the scrimmages throughout the game.

Baugh had run Plasman out of bounds after the latter had caught a pass and it was within of the Redskin bench that the Bear end lashed out at Baugh. Then Baugh punched back and Redskin reserves leaped to their feet, rushing to Baugh’s aid.

From across the field came both Redskins and Bears and for a half minute it was a free-for-all but game officials restored order. No penalties were given but Plasman, when he went back to the playing field was dripping blood from the nose and limping noticeably.

It a was rough, bruising ball game from the outset, with both teams slipping and skidding on the hard-ridged, frost coated turf despite the fact they were shod with rubbersoled basketball shoes.

Baugh Passes to Tie
As late as the third period, after the Redskins had tied the score at 14-14, the Bears were in command with a 21-14 lead. Then it was with a pass to Wayne Millner, Sammy Baugh fetched the tying touchdown and 5 minutes later won the ball game with a pass to Ed Justice.

Thus Washington, which had waited 24 years for its first baseball pennant, won its first big league football championship in its maiden year in the National League.

There was Cliff Battles, who drove to that first Redskin touchdown and there was Ed Justice, who caught the pass and dashed across the goal for the winning score. There was Riley Smith, the public accountant from Alabama, who gave a public accounting of his place kicking skill by sending a placement through the posts after each Redskin touchdown. And there was also bushy-haired, iron-legged, horny-handed Wayne Millner.

If Baugh had even a close rival for honors, it was Millner, overshadowed all season by his colleague at the other end, Charley Malone. But today, Millner was trancendent—a sure-handed, light footed messenger of grief for the Bears.

Millner Sprints Over Line
When the Redskins needed a touchdown to wipe out that 14-7 lead of the Bears in the third quarter, Millner who plucked a Baugh pass out of the nippy air and galloped 35 yards, in a breathtaking sprint to a touchdown on a play that, over all, ate up 55 yards.

And when a few minutes later the Redskins needed another touchdown to tie the Bears, it was Millner again who leaped into the air at midfield, snatched another pass from Baugh and legged it 50 yards to that important touchdown.

It was quite a going-over that the Redskins gave the Bears statistically. Fifteen first downs they amassed to the Bears’ 11, and 464 yards they gained to the Bears’ 348. Despite the ground-eating charges of Nagurski and Manders and Nolting, it was Cliff Battles who led both teams in yards gained from rushing with a total of 77.

It was a cool .500 that Sammy Baugh batted with his passes today, completing 17 of the 34 he heaved for a total of 352 yards, more yardage than the Bears could make either running or passing. Amid the ohs and ahs of the 15,878 in the stands, he was flipping long ones and short ones and shovel passes and flat ones and finding a receiver for half of his efforts.

Eight minutes after the opening kickoff, Washington had a touchdown—the fruits of a 53-yard uninterrupted march, Baugh completing three passes en route. With the ball on the Bears’ 7-yard line, Baugh handed the center’s snap to Battles on a reverse play and Battles dashed around the short side of the line untouched. He literally dove across the goal. It was the much-publicized short-side play of the Redskins that had shaken Battles loose for 76 yards against the Giants the week before.

Three minutes later the Bears had tied the score. Striking back with all the fury that their big backs and beefy line could muster the Bears stomped 80 yards to a touchdown. A 60-yard pass play from Masterson to Manske put the ball on the Redskins’ 19, and the Bears required only two plays to put it over. Nagurski charged 9 yards around left end and Manders literally waded through a hole a center for 10 yars and a touchdown.

Irwin Makes First Down
Now the Bears were rampant. Getting possesion of the ball again at midfield, they produced a touchdown in four plays, Manders taking a pass from Masterson and racing 25 yards across the goal, with the help of Wilson’s block of Battles who claimed he was clipped from behind on the play. With the Bears’ reserve backs in the game the second quarter produced no score.

But almost immediately after the start of the second half, with the Bears’ regulars in action, Sammy Baugh touched off the Redskins counter charge.

After Don Irwin had made a first down on the Bears’ 45, Millner dropped a pass from Baugh, but on the next play he cut sharply across from the opposite end of the field, took a pass that Baugh virtually hung on a peg, and, in a race with Masterson, scored on a 35-yard run. Reliable Riley Smith added the extra point to tie the game at 14 to 14.

It seemed for naught, however, when the Bears climaxed a 77-yard drive down the field with a touchdown scored on a pass from Masterson to Manske across the goal line that sent Chicago into a 21-to-14 lead.

But the Redskins had an almost immediate reply. Fading back from his own 22-yard line, Baugh fired a 40-yard pass to Millner, who took the ball on the dead run exactly in the midfield, found himself virtually free and led Nagurski and Manders on a 50-yard chase across the goal line, once more Riley Smith tied the score with a place kick for the extra point.

But that wild third quarter, which had already produced 21 points, was to produce 7 more, and it was the Redskins who authored that final and decisive touchdown. After stopping a Bear drive that ended with a punt to the touchback, the Redskins charged back the touchdown play like their first scoring play of the afternoon was a repitition of a play that had scored against the Giants.

Ed Justice, who until that point had taken no part in the pass catching, drifted downfield while Baugh faked a short pass to Malone and then heaved a long spiral that Justice gathered in on the 11-yard line. From that point it was a romp for Justice.

And that is the story of the Redskins and what they did today.

© Copyright 1937 The Washington Post Company

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