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In a forthright, notably unsubtle football game, the Chicago Bears battered the Green Bay Packers into complete submission last Sunday to take over first place in the Western Conference of the National Football League. A week ago the race in both conferences was close, but after the Bears' solidly wrought, violent conquest of Green Bay 26-7 and the upset of the Cleveland Browns by the St. Louis Cardinals, the reasonable probability now is that the championship game will match the New York Giants and the Bears in Chicago.
This cannot be a delightful prospect for the Giants. The Bears have just proved themselves as physically powerful a football team as ever played the game. Their victory over the Packers was not the result of a particularly brilliant strategy or unusual tactics. It came because, in the series of man-to-man physical encounters that make up a football game, the Bears whipped the Packers in almost every instance.
There were some changes in the plan that had brought the Bears a 10-3 victory against Green Bay in the first game of the season. At that time Bill Wade controlled the ball with short passes and with passes behind the line of scrimmage to Ronnie Bull. Bull, nursing a sore foot, played very little in this game. And Wade, surprisingly, passed very little. He did not need to. So clearly did the Bear offensive line dominate the Packers that the Bear runners, although they seldom broke free for long runs, slashed readily for four, five and six yards.
"We had a game plan for the offense, a game plan for the defense and, on Friday, I gave the team an overall battle plan," a perspiring George Halas said after the game. "I will give you the battle plan."
Chicago's owner-coach took a sheet of yellow, lined legal paper out of his pocket. Written on the paper in Halas' neat, careful hand was a series of paragraphs, lettered from A to H.
"This is paragraph F," Halas said.
He adjusted his spectacles and read, "Our war plan is simple and will do the job. We will control the ball with runs and with short passes. We will draw them in tight and then let them have a couple of long ones. Our defense will smother their championship offense."
Someone asked him about the rest of the paragraphs and Halas shook his head. "Those are some little facts I gave them that I don't want to reveal," he said. "I'm sure they will—Green Bay, I mean—pick them up from the movies, but I don't want to talk about them. I have to save them for another occasion."
Whatever the little facts were, in the game itself the Bears demonstrated basic tactics borrowed, in part, from one of the ideas of the Packers' coach, Vince Lombardi. Lombardi believes in beating a team at its strength, and this is precisely what the Bears did to the Packers.
"We wanted to take away their running," Halas said. "We wanted to force them to pass. Then they would be playing our game."