While the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears were busy whetting appetites for their probable championship playoff game Dec. 30 (see preceding pages), their 17-17 tie moved their pursuers uncomfortably close in each division. In the East, the Chicago Cardinals defeated the Pittsburgh steeiers 38-27, chastising Lamar McHan, their recalcitrant quarterback, in the process. McHan languished on the bench for much of the game while Jim Root, his understudy, performed admirably. McHan, who was fined $3,000 for insubordination by Head Coach Ray Richards after the Steeler game a week earlier, played long enough to sneak over for a touchdown from the one-yard line. It seems unlikely that this evidence of good faith will be enough to earn him a reduction in the size of his fine. Ollie Matson found Root a good collaborator in the Card backfield, scoring two touchdowns—one on a 79-yard run and the other on a one-yard plunge—and running for a total of 159 yards in 16 carries.
The Washington Redskins stretched their streak of victories to five by scoring in the last 90 seconds to beat the Cleveland Browns 20-17. The Browns, for the first time since the club was organized in 1946, have been eliminated mathematically from any chance at the division title. New York Giant Coach Jim Lee Howell, when he heard the Redskin-Brown score, checked the standings to make sure the Browns were out and sighed gustily. "Man," he said, "it's good to know they can't catch us for once."
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The Detroit Lions presented their fans with a turkey on Thanksgiving Day, but it was not the edible kind. It came in the form of a surprising 24-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers. This lapse cost the Lions a chance to take over first place in the West, in view of the Giants-Bears tie three days later. Tobin Rote, the lanky Packer quarterback, cleverly exploited a soft spot he had discovered in the Lion defense during a fine fourth-period rally which netted his team three touchdowns. Rote employed a play pattern which freed Fullback Howie Ferguson for short passes over the middle, and he stuck to it.
Playing the Los Angeles Rams, the Baltimore Colts had their finest hour in the National Football League, treating themselves to a 56-21 victory. Billy Vessels, the Oklahoma halfback who was the Colts' first draft choice three years ago (but who spent the next three years playing for the Canadians and Uncle Sam), scored three touchdowns. Vessels, playing behind L. G. Dupre, had carried the ball only four times before last Sunday despite loud howls from the stands. With Dupre hurt he finally got his chance. He scored twice on short plunges, gained 70 yards in nine tries and as many more in four pass receptions, one for a touchdown.
The San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles played to a 10-10 tie in the second interdivisional game of the week. Gordy Soltau's 27-yard field goal gained the tie for the 49ers with less than four minutes gone in the fourth quarter.
TAP DAY FOR THE PROS
Equipped with suitcases full of data on the best seniors in college football, the pro football clubs met in Philadelphia Monday and staked claims on the cream of the crop. This draft used to be held in January but, since the Canadian teams hold their draft in November and go to work on their prospects immediately, the National Football League has advanced the date for picking the top four of the 30 college players selected by each team.