Great Performance in Bears History

Sid Luckman not only beat the Lions with his arm, but the two-way player got had one of the Bears 7 interceptions on the day.

On November 22, 1942, the nation was dealing with the cold realities of war, and the first anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor loomed just around the corner.

Many things were being rationed at that time to help with the war effort, but professional football wasn't one of them. The NFL had two divisions (the Western and Eastern) and 10 franchises. Chicago rooted for two teams back then: the Bears and the Cardinals. There also was an NFL team in Brooklyn.

A prototypical cool, crisp fall afternoon greeted the Bears November 22 when they visited Briggs Stadium in Detroit for a match-up against the Lions. Four other league games were on tap that day, including an exhibition between the Cleveland Rams and the Wichita Commandos.

The outcome of the Bears-Lions contest would have no bearing on the Western Division standings. Chicago, led by one of its all-time greats, quarterback Sid Luckman, sported the best record in football at 8-0 while their division rivals were bottom feeding at 0-9.

The just over 17,000 in attendance were undoubtedly well aware of the Bears' offensive juggernaut. Chicago led the league in points scored, while Luckman, in his third season with the club, was developing into a Hall of Fame quarterback, passing to talented receivers Harry Clarke and Ray McLean.

However, the Bears were just as formidable on defense, limiting opponents to an NFL-best 8 1/2 points per game. In those days, it was common for players to go both ways. Luckman lined up for defensive plays as well as offensive snaps, and Clarke became of the Bears' best two-way players (he would go on to lead the Bears in both receiving and interceptions in 1943).

Detroit certainly got more than its fill of Luckman and Chicago's offense as Bears rolled to a 42-0 victory to clinch the Western Division title. The Bears rolled up 352 yards of offense -- 260 of that total through the air. But Luckman also took part in making life miserable for his quarterback counterparts from Detroit, Tommy Colella and Harry Hopp.

In the first quarter, Luckman intercepted a Colella pass to set up the Bears' first TD. Luckman's pick was the first of seven recorded by the Bears on the day, tying a team record set two years earlier for most interceptions in a game.

The record still stands today.

The Bears completed the 1942 regular season with a perfect 11-0 mark, but lost to the Washington Redskins in the NFL championship game, 14-6.


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