Imagine the worst possible offensive performance anyone could even conceive of. Say, something along the lines of not a single first down, maybe one yard rushing and just for the fun of it, one completed pass.
All time ugly, right?
What's the score of that game? They get whipped something along the lines of 40-0. Maybe worse.
Well, in 1942 the Giants did exactly that.
And they won.
And they did it by beating the team that would go on to win the NFL championship.
And in doing so, they prevented a perfect season.
Sammy Baugh's Washington Redskins were a powerhouse. They won the East in 1940 and would repeat in 1942 and 1943. The Chicago Bears, those legendary Monsters Of The Midway who dominated the decade of the 1940s with Sid Luckman and a ferocious defense stomped their way to an 11-0 record. How good were the 1942 Bears? Over their final six games they surrendered a measly 14 points. Four shutouts over six games.
The 10-1 Redskins pulled off a mighty upset in the championship game beating Chicago 14-6, which was the second time the Bears missed out on a perfect season by losing in the title contest (the other being the famous Sneakers Game against the Giants in 1934).
Washington missed out on a perfect season of their own by mystifyingly dropping an anomalous contest against New York on a muddy field in September.
The Giants pulled it off by completing the first pass of the game - good for 50 yards and a TD - then playing defense the rest of the way. Coach Steve Owen, with a solid defense and excellent kicking game, was happy to punt and play field position for 59 minutes.
The Redskins tied the score in the second quarter and seemed to be driving to take the lead in the third quarter until Baugh threw an interception that was returned 66 yards for a TD.
The 14-7 lead held up.
Statistically, Washington dominated: 15 1st downs to 0; 233 total yards to 51. TOP wasn't recorded but obviously the Redskins must have had a ridiculous advantage, possibly over 45 minutes.
But the Giants held one statistical edge that helped them get the upset, they were +3 in turnovers. In addition to Baugh's critical INT Washington there was a second one thrown by Dick Pollion and also a lost fumble, while the Giants took care of the ball and punted well to maintain a field position edge on the sloppy field.
Newspaper coverage for the 1940s isn't extensive, but I grabbed what I could and included the program cover and lineups from this game and also a snippet on the league standings from the December program when the Redskins visited the Giants at the Polo Grounds which reveals the significance of this remarkable September upset.
This was a truly one-of-a-kind game, probably never to be repeated.
New York Times
New York Herald-Tribune
New York Daily News
9/27 game program
11/15 game program