The wonders of science and a brand-new offense combined to put the Chicago Cardinals, a fourth-place team in 1955, into undisputed first place in the Eastern Conference, with victories over the two strongest teams in the division. The Cardinals, who started the season by whipping the Cleveland Browns 9-7, added a 35-27 conquest of the New York Giants last Sunday. Coach Ray Richards uses a one-ounce paging device to communicate with his offensive quarterback and defensive captain. "It helps quite a lot," he said after the victory over the Giants. "It's hard to measure just how much, but it's especially useful to alert the defense on what to expect." Broadcast is from the press box perch of an assistant coach, who is in touch with Richards by telephone. "I think the biggest factor in our success so far has been the play of Lamar McHan," Richards said. "We helped ourselves in the offensive line, too. And we put in a split-T offense the week before the Brown game, something we had never used before. It gives us ball-control and rests the defense." The Cardinals will have to operate without their communication system next week, when they play in Washington, since the system requires a wire loop buried on the playing field for transmission. Redskins Owner George Marshall is not expected to allow the Cardinals to dig up his turf to plant this gadget.
Cleveland, whose Coach Paul Brown started the automation uproar, beat the Pittsburgh steelers without radio communication last week. George Ratterman, apparently set as Otto Graham's replacement, passed well, used big Ed Modzelewski in the forefront of a thumping ground attack and ground out a 14-10 victory. The seemingly armor-plated Brown defense threw back a late Steeler drive on the four-yard line to preserve the win. The Philadelphia Eagles, whose offense suffers from a lack of consistent running backs, depended on the passing of Quarterback Bobby Thomason for a 13-9 triumph over the still winless Washington Redskins.
The Detroit Lions, who plummeted from first to last in the Western Division in 1955, showed signs of climbing right back after two weeks of the 1956 season. Victories over the Green Bay Packers on opening day and the Baltimore Colts 31 to 14 last Saturday night left them in sole ownership of first place in the West; the way in which victory was achieved made it seem likely they would stay there. "Three things make this a much better club than last year's," said Coach Buddy Parker after his win over the Colts. "First, we have no injuries to key players. Last year we started with three first-line players out. Second, the return from service of Yale Lary, our defensive back, Oliver Spencer [tackle] and Gene Gedman [offensive fullback] has tightened up both our offensive and defensive units. Third, and as important as the other two, Bobby Layne is passing as well as he ever did." Parker added two more factors to account for his team's success—the running of Rookie Backs Don McIlhenny of SMU and Hopalong Cassady of Ohio State and the addition of Tackle Ray Krouse to the defensive line. Layne, with an abundance of tools to fashion his attack, passed for two touchdowns against the Colts, handed off adroitly to his fine runners for sizable ground gains and carried for eight yards and a touchdown himself.
The Los Angeles Rams, magnificently endowed with talent on both the offensive and defensive units, lost to the somewhat less-talented but certainly more enthusiastic San Francisco 49ers 33-30. The once lethargic 49er line battered Ram backs into five fumbles, recovering four of them. Ed Beatty, relieved of unwelcome duties as an offensive center by the return of would-be coach Bill Johnson to that post, pounced on three fumbles from his linebacker position. Gordy Soltau kicked four field goals for the 49ers, and Fullback Joe Perry, long the driving force in the 49er ground attack, showed no signs of aging as he slipped through a crack in the Ram line and hurried 28 yards for a touchdown.
The Chicago Bears, for the first time in 10 years, looked like the oldtime Monsters of the Midway. Quarterback Ed Brown scored one touchdown, passed for two and fired the husky, tough Bear backs through the Green Bay Packers line for 278 yards. The Bears won 37-21. The Packers' Al Carmichael returned a kickoff 106 yards for a touchdown, a new record by a yard.
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