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This Day in Sports History: The First NFL Championship Game

On December 17, 1933, the Chicago Bears hosted the New York Giants in the first scheduled NFL Championship Game. Before the season, Washingotn Redskins owner George Preston Marshall had suggested that the NFL split the 10 team league into two divisions with the winners of each facing each other for the league title. The other owners agreed and when the Bears ended the regular season with a 10-2-1 record, they edged the Giants (10-3) ever so slightly for the right to host the first ever NFL Championship Game.

Early in the first quarter, the Giants executed an early version of the Statue of Liberty play with center Mel Hein acting as an eligible receiver and rumbling down the field for a 30-yard gain. But the trick play proved to be for naught as the Bears defense tightened up and the Giants missed the field goal to end what was once a promising drive.

After two field goals, the Bears managed to eke out a 6-0 advantage by the middle of the second quarter when the Giants offense got hot. After Harry Newman connected on a 29-yard touchdown pass to Red Badgro, the Giants had a 7-6 lead going into the half.

Jack Manders kicked a field goal to start the second half, giving the Bears a two-point lead. After the Giants running back Max Krause scored on a short run, the Bears answered right back with fullback/tackle Bronko Nagurski leaping high into the air to throw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Bill Karr to give the football world its first jump pass.

Heading into the fourth quarter, the Bears led 16-14. The Giants took the lead when Newman found Ken Strong for an eight-yard touchdown pass. Once again, Bronko Nagurski leaped high into the air and found Bill Karr for an 18-yard touchdown, the game winner. With that, the Bears won the first NFL Championshp Game 23-21.

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