He played no more in the first half, and it was only because he insisted that he was allowed to play in the second half. But the bad left leg proved an insurmountable handicap to him and to the Giants. He could not retreat to his passing position as quickly as usual, and the Bears, seeing this, blitzed more in the second half, forcing him to hurry his passes. Even when he got back quickly enough and was protected, his passes were inaccurate, because he was throwing off his right leg alone instead of stepping into the pass as a quarterback should.
"He was great on one leg," Sherman said after the game. "I want to make one thing clear. All the writers who had said that Y. A. Tittle does not win the big game don't understand football and don't understand this great athlete, who is the only man around who could have played in the second half with a leg like that. He has won more big games than any quarterback. I know, because for three years we have been in more big games than any other team."
Tittle's injury was only one of the misfortunes that bedeviled the Giants in this game. They lost Tom Scott, who broke his arm in the first quarter, and in the second quarter Phil King was out with a sprained ankle. Bookie Bolin, whose strong blocking had contributed to a surprisingly authoritative running game in the first half, was injured and replaced by a virtual rookie, Ken Byers.
So the Giants had to play for the championship without the full-time help of four of their first-line players. It is remarkable that they stayed as close to the Bears as they did.
"I'm not alibiing because of the injuries," Sherman said after the game. "Any writer who says I am is misquoting me. We lost to a Chicago team which played the game it had to play. The injuries did not make the difference.
"We run better than most people give us credit for," Sherman added in the course of this oddly defensive interview. Indeed, the Giants did run well during the first half, sending Morrison and King (while he was healthy) and Webster over the Bear tackles for good gains time and again. Fred Williams, the Bear tackle, was the victim on most of these runs as Greg Larson, the Giant center, blocked him in time and again to open cracks in the Bear line.
In the second half Williams moved a little wider so that it was impossible for Larson to reach him; and this small adjustment cut off the inside route that Tittle had exploited in the first half.
The Giants had never been able to run wide against the two strong Bear ends and against two of the best corner linebackers in football—Larry Morris and Joe Fortunate. In the second half, with the middle closed, the flanks impregnable and Tittle unable to throw competently, the Giant offense was reduced to almost a zero. They had gained 70 yards on the ground in the first half; in the second they could gain only 58. On two sound legs Tittle had one interception in the first half; in the second, off balance, he had four.
Wade, a strong long passer and a good short passer, stuck absolutely to the Chicago game plan—something he has not always done in years past. He threw short passes and used Joe Marconi and Ronnie Bull in slashes at the line to maintain ball control and did this well enough so that the Bears dominated the second half.
Wade himself made the longest run of the Bear offense—12 yards on a broken pass pattern. Their longest passing gain was 34 yards to Marconi, when Wade put pressure on Linebacker Tom Scott's replacement, Al Gursky.