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Tex Maule
December 03, 1956
The Giants and Bears, pro football's best, battle to a draw. Old Pro Chuck Conerly helps explain the deadlock
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December 03, 1956

The Titans Were Tied

The Giants and Bears, pro football's best, battle to a draw. Old Pro Chuck Conerly helps explain the deadlock

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The Giant scores last Sunday came on the heels of Bear errors. Ed Brown, the very good Bear quarterback, fumbled the pass from center on a punt attempt and was buried under the charge of seven Giants. Heinrich then worked the ball carefully down to the Bear nine, from where Ben Agajanian kicked a field goal. Later, Brown rolled out to his right to pass and hurried the throw under the continuing pressure of the Giant line. The Giants' Sam Huff, a guard, intercepted the pass and hurried it back to the Bear 28.

Now Heinrich, who had made the Bears honor the fine Giant running throughout the first quarter and a half, changed pace effectively. He threw twice to End Kyle Rote, both times incomplete, and the Bear defense became very Rote-conscious. So Heinrich hit Halfback Alex Webster quickly for 11 yards and a first down on the Bear 17. After missing again, he flipped the ball over the line, and Rote, two steps ahead of a desperate linebacker, picked it off and scored. Two mistakes for the Bears, two scores for the Giants.

When the teams started the second half, the Giants were leading 10-0. Heinrich was still at quarterback while Conerly sat deep in his sideline cape watching the action and calling the Giant plays to himself.

The yardage was coming harder for the Giant runners in the second half. A Bear fumble early in the third quarter had given them an easy touchdown, but that was all. The Bears, meanwhile, had corrected their mistakes. The game settled for a while into a tremendous, straining contest fought across the three feet of neutral territory at the line of scrimmage. The noise of conflict could be heard clearly from where Conerly sat.

This thunder in the line starts with the muffled slap of the football against the flat palm of the quarterback and, as much as anything, it is the difference between college and pro football. It comes from the solid thump of well-armored big men in violent contact, and it is augmented by their grunts and groans and curses. It is one of the things a rookie back finds unsettling when he plays his first game of professional football.

With the battle in the line now a standoff, it looked for a while as if the outcome would hang on the early Giant scores. But suddenly the errorless Giants began to make some mistakes of their own. The Bears kicked a field goal after Halfback Ray Smith had intercepted a Heinrich pass and returned it to the Giant 16. It was 17-3 as the third quarter ended and the Giants returned to the offense. Conerly went in at quarterback.

He nursed the Giants down to the Bear 22, twice firing Webster through a crack he discovered in the right side of the Bear line and once sending Gifford the other way to prevent the Bears from stacking their defense. Then Webster, who had been sick earlier in the game, got sick again and left. Agajanian tried a field goal from the 32 and missed.

A penalty stopped the Giants' next drive, and when the Bears took over the ball, there were eight minutes left in the game. The Bears were on their 24 with all of the 55,191 people in Yankee Stadium expecting a long pass.

So Ed Brown handed off the ball to Bill McColl, a huge end converted to a flanker back. McColl, running to his right on a deep reverse, suddenly stopped and threw the ball high and far from the Bear 15. Harlon Hill, the wonderful Bear end, was yards in the clear at the Giant 20 when he caught the prodigious heave, the ball hanging high above him against the gray sky for a moment and Hill running under it to make the catch. Jim Patton, the Giant defender, had taken an early fatal step toward the line of scrimmage, and that mistake cost a touchdown.

Conerly killed five of the next seven minutes on a deliberate, cool sortie along the ground, but it was not enough. When the Bears finally got the ball, some two minutes remained in the game. Brown began his bid for a tie with short precise passes to Hill and McColl, throwing toward the sideline so the big receivers could step out of bounds and stop the clock after they caught the ball. From the Bear 44, Brown sent Hill, who runs with a long, loping stride that generates deceptive speed, far downfield. Patton, who had let Hill get well behind him for the earlier Bear touchdown, stuck with him this time. He was running nearly stride for stride with the Bear end at the goal line as Brown's pass dropped out of the sky. Hill tipped it once, juggled it, fell flat in the end zone and caught the ball just before it hit the ground.

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