Sunday, December 19, 2010

December 19, 1948: Let it snow

PHILADELPHIA - The snow was endless and unrelenting. A blizzard had hit Philadelphia, and the weather was so bad that the NFL considered postponing the 1948 Championship Game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chicago Cardials. But the players wanted to play, and besides, it was the first championship game scheduled to be televised, so the league went ahead with the game as scheduled.

Before the game, the grounds crew needed help from the two teams to get the tarp off the field - so much snow had fallen that the tarp was too heavy to move otherwise. Eagles quarterback Steve Van Buren didn't help with that task, though - he hadn't gotten there yet. He had tried to get to the game first by trolley, then by subway, before finally giving up and walking the final eight blocks in the driving snow.

Once the tarp was up, the teams could finally play, and they proceeded to put on a display of offensive ineptitude. It's no surprise, really - it was next to impossible to get any traction in that weather. The game entered the fourth quarter scoreless.

Finally, there was a break in the armor. The Cardinals fumbled deep in their own territory early in the 4th quarter, and Philadelphia gladly fell on it to set up the first good scoring opportunity of the game. The Eagles took advantage, with quarterback Steve Van Buren plunging in from a yard out to put the Eagles ahead 7-0.

And that was it. Driving the length of the field was a daunting task in that weather, and the Cardinals couldn't answer, failing to defend their championship.

It was the first championship for the Eagles; they would win again the next year and once more in 1960. For the Cardinals, though, it was the start of a drought. Through 50 years and three cities, the Cardinals didn't make it back to the championship game until the 2008 season, when the Arizona Cardinals advanced to the Super Bowl. Their current championship drought is the longest in the NFL.

Van Buren scoring the game's only touchdown

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