The Packers tried futilely to move the ball but, stopped by the Bears' suddenly complex defense patterns, were forced to punt again. The Bears, still moving with dreamlike slowness, came down-field. Now Wade mixed up his patterns, using Ditka for a decoy and throwing to another rookie, End John Farrington, and to his flanker back, Johnny Morris. With fourth down and nine on the Green Bay 35-yard line, the Packer defenders doubled up on Ditka. Wade hit Farrington for the first down.
"I thought that was the biggest play of the year," Packer Coach Vince Lombardi said later. "I figured we'd blown the game when they got that. I didn't think we'd be able to hold them." This time Wade got the touchdown by faking the pass and handing off to Rick Casares, who drove nine yards.
The Bears, trailing 31-28, had one more chance to win the game. They got the ball for the last time on their own 36-yard line with something over a minute to play.
A private conversation
"When I went out on the field for their last series, I said 'No, no' to myself," Currie said after the game. "I didn't see how we could lose the game after being ahead so far."
Wade had no time in that last, small flurry. The Packer line harassed him, and he completed only one pass, a throw behind the line of scrimmage to a flanker back who was dropped immediately by Currie for a six-yard loss.
The victory put Green Bay a game and a half ahead in the Western Division, a cushion the club sorely needs, for in the next five weeks the Packers will face the toughest part of their schedule. They meet Los Angeles in Green Bay this Sunday and must play the Detroit Lions, who now appear to be their strongest adversaries, four days later on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit. After that come the New York Giants in Milwaukee and the San Francisco 49ers and the shotgun in California.
Their game-and-a-half lead could melt away very quickly. This would be so even if the Packers were not losing three of their best players to service. Boyd Dowler, their very capable offensive end, goes next week. Ray Nitschke, the strong middle linebacker, who has been on active duty for two weeks, flew in for Sunday's game but cannot be counted on later. And then there is Hornung. Hornung's field goal was, finally, the difference between the Packers and the Bears. For the rest of the season, there will be no Hornung to kick 51-yard field goals.
Although their victory over Philadelphia raised them only to a tie for the Eastern Division lead, the Giants appear a stronger choice for champions of their division than the Packers are in the West. This is a Giant team that has developed slowly as Allie Sherman assimilated new personnel (see page 34) into both the offensive and defensive units. With successive big-score victories over Washington and Philadelphia, the Giants seem to have hit their stride.
And the Eagles, who might have been able to repeat as champions, must play the strongest part of their schedule without the one irreplaceable man in their secondary defense—Tom Brookshier.