Thursday, November 19, 2015


Looking Back
By T.J. Troup

Los Angeles Rams vs. New York Yanks,  November 19th, 1950.
Elroy Hirsch in 1951 action. Colorization by John Turney
*Note: the Elias Sports Bureau took over "handling" the league stats in 1961, so this saga is in no way an attempt to disparage them. Still listed in the Record & Fact book as the game with the most combined yards 1,133. The league could correct the error; but for now let us revisit this game on its 65th anniversary.                                    

BACKGROUND: The defending division champion Rams enter the game with a 7-2 record, with an opportunistic defense, and an offense that is setting production records. The 6-2 Bears are at home in Wrigley Field to take on San Francisco and have beaten the new boys on the block: The New York Yanks who also are 6-2 the week before. So if the Yanks are going to stay in the race they are going to have to limit the powerful Rams on this crisp November day in Yankee Stadium.  
1st QUARTER: Captains Jack Russell & George Ratterman have won the coin toss, and want the ball. Quick Sherman Howard returns Woodley Lewis kickoff to his own 40 yard line. Zollie "Tugboat" Toth attempts to dent the Ram defensive forward wall and helps the Yanks get to the Ram forty-five yard line before the Spec Sanders punts. Bob Waterfield starts today at quarterback and has completed two in a row, but league leading interceptor Sanders pilfers a Waterfield toss and returns 20 yards to the Los Angeles forty-five. On first down right defensive end Jack Zilly drops Ratterman for a 14 yard loss attempting to pass.

Nowhere in the final stat sheet are "sacks" listed, thus the total yards for the game SHOULD be changed. On second down, Ratterman is again rushed hard, and his poor throw is pilfered by rookie right corner Woodley Lewis (only Ram rookie ever to earn a Pro Bowl berth as a defensive back). The Rams take over on the nineteen. 3rd down and again Waterfield is intercepted (linebacker Ed Sharkey). New York moves the ball 35 yards before Chet Adams misses a field goal try from the Ram thirty-four. Los Angeles proceeds to drive 80 yards in 10 plays to take the lead at 12:17 of the first quarter. Waterfield throws a screen to right end Elroy Hirsch, and weaves his way to the left and scores from 36 yards out (key block is made by left end Tom Fears).  
2nd QUARTER: Tom Keane intercepted Ratterman late in the first quarter, but the Rams cannot capitalize and punt the ball back to New York. The two teams continue to trade punts until the Yanks get a drive started from their twenty after a missed Waterfield field goal attempt. John Rauch is in at quarterback and flips the ball to Toth who pounds his way 60 yards to the Ram twenty. Young gains 18 on a sweep left, and Ratterman finishes the drive with a two yard plunge. Tied at seven.

Norm Van Brocklin in 1951 action. Colorization by John Turney
Los Angeles moves into Yank territory, but Waterfield's field goal attempt is blocked by Martin Ruby. Woodley Lewis intercepts Ratterman's first down pass, and returns to the New York forty-two. Three quick plays and the Rams take the lead 13-7 on a Glen Davis sweep left (Waterfield's extra point attempt hits and cross bar). New York fails on a 4th down pass giving the Rams the ball in Yank territory with 10seconds left in the half. Waterfield delivers a 37 yard field goal and the half ends with Los Angeles out front 16-7. Both teams during the season have been involved in high scoring 3rd quarters, and this game will be no different.                                                                                    
3rd QUARTER: Rams punt after three plays, and Ratterman brings his Yanks down the field mixing runs and passes to the Los Angeles fifteen. George finds Howard open over the middle for the score on a juggling catch. Folks, we have a ball game at 16-14. Van Brocklin is in at quarterback and the Dutchman engineers a 78 yard drive. Offensive tackle Ed Champagne gets involved on a staple in the Ram offense, the tackle eligible for 10 yards to keep the drive going before Hoerner scores on a 32 yards excursion around right end. Next time Los Angeles has the ball Hirsch is open and Van Brocklin hits him with a pinpoint 15 yard pass. Elroy Crazy Legs his way another 43 yards to the New York twenty. Martin Ruby sacks the Dutchman for a 10 yard loss. The drive culminates with another Waterfield field goal to up the ante to Los Angeles 26 New York 14. Keane again intercepts Ratterman, and here come the Rams with their vaunted passing game moving down the field. Receptions by Fears for 11 and Hirsch for 24 put the ball on the four yard line. Dick Hoerner muscles his way into the end zone on 4th down for the score.                                                                        

 4th QUARTER: Ratterman attempting to get the Yanks back in the game throws long, but Lewis again intercepts(this time on the goal line). Waterfield's punt is blocked and Bruce Alford recovers in the end zone. The Yanks are still alive. Los Angeles counters with another pitchout play around right end by Hoerner. The big fullback thunders 64 yards to score (excellent blocks by Thompson & Smith cleared the lane)......Rams 40 Yanks 21. Ratterman completes four straight passes; the final one a 16 yard pitch to sure handed Dan Edwards. Hoerner fumbles (Signaigo recovers), and at midfield on a double reverse George Taliaferro heaves to Art Weiner for the 50 yard score. Rams 40 Yanks 35. Can New York stop the Rams and pull this one out? Hoerner fumbles again (Paul Mitchell recovers), but Keane intercepts for the third time also. This is the second time in Ram history that teammates have intercepted 3 passes apiece in a game. Los Angeles will not be denied today as the advance to the Yank twenty-three where Waterfield kicks his 3rd field goal. Less than two minutes remain as Ratterman fires the ball on every play, with his final pass being completed to Edwards on the Los Angeles thirty-six.                                                                

SUMMATION: The Rams will go on to win the conference title in a playoff battle with the Bears, as the Yanks fade in the race. This game though truly shows what two platoon football was all about in 1950. The teams tied the record for most passes attempted in a game with 88. The four sacks for 47 yards in losses signify that though entertaining the game is remembered for yards gained, it actually is not the record.

Finally; the Rams had the whammy on the Yanks as Los Angeles gained over 2500 yards in the four wins over New York during 1950 & 51. Dick Hoerner gained 313 rushing(on just 36 carries), and the passing game was an outstanding 88 of 154 for 1,459 yards with 11 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting article, Coach! The defenses gave up a lot of yards but they also made a lot of big plays.