By TJ Troup
|1963 Game Used Terry Baker Helmet|
Here goes—Los Angeles Ram captains Jon Arnett & Eddie Meador meet the Chicago Bears foursome at midfield for the coin toss on a breezy 67-degree day in the Coliseum.
The date— October 13th, 1963, and what is about to become the lowest point in Ram history.
Before giving the details of this game, let us take a look at the won/loss record of the Rams for the previous 52 games they have played.
Games involving the Eastern Conference, and the fledgling Vikings the record is a very poor 3-9-1, yet this is a damn sight better than their record against their five long time rivals: Green Bay, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, and San Francisco. The Rams record in the 39 games played against these teams since October 25th, 1959 is 6 wins, 32 losses, and 1 tie. Pathetic, simply pathetic.
Why? Lack of direction since there is no leadership, and though talent at certain positions—overall just not enough to beat the above five teams.
Harland Svare was not ready to be a head coach and based upon his record in his career he never would be. Svare has five assistant coaches in '63, and they ALL are in their first year of coaching. Some of them would turn out to be adequate coaches over time (none with Los Angeles though).
Mr. Clive Grafton was a true professional in his work on Ram play by plays, and thus here we go with the details of the Rams taking on the Bears.
Los Angeles 1st and 10 on their own twenty-five-yard line as Jon Arnett sweeps around left end for 8 yards before Richie Petitbon makes the tackle. Solid start— 2nd and two, Dick Bass attempts to sweep right end after taking a pitch-out from starting Ram quarterback Terry Baker. Joe Fortunato knifes into the backfield and takes down the "Scooter" for a two-yard loss.
Veteran middle linebacker Bill George charges into the Ram backfield and sacks Baker for a 12-yard loss. Rams punt. Johnny Morris 31 yard punt return gives Chicago excellent field position, and on 4th and 6 at the Los Angeles 35 rookie Bob Jencks field goal is blocked by Marlin McKeever. Bobby Smith returns the blocked kick to his own 49.
Can Rams get it going?
Bass gets tackled for a 4-yard loss on a sweep left. Incomplete pass by Baker, and again enter Zeke who's errant toss is pilfered by Petitbon and he returned it 21 yards. Chicago goes three and out, and so again do the Rams. Chicago again on their third possession must punt.
The Bears short 37-yard drive climaxes in the first Chicago touchdown of the game (there will be plenty more). Mike Ditka is wide damn open for Billy Wade's accurate pass for 13 yards and the touchdown. Th quarter ends with Zeke completing to Phillips for 9 yards.
Many teams start off slow, and as the game progresses "get in the groove". There is slow and then there is glacier slow as the Rams ran the ball four times for 4 yards. Bratkowski failed to keep the quarterback job in Chicago though given many chances, and today he is 3 of 7 for 26 yards with an interception in the first quarter.
Though very poor, he looks a damn sight better than Heisman Trophy winner Terry Baker. The former Beaver completes 3 of 4 for -2 yards. Yes, that is MINUS-2 yards, and was sacked, and lost a fumble. I am not going to go through the entire play by play, yet the final score of 52-14 tells us all we need to know.
Watching film over and over of this game leaves little to the imagination. Los Angeles is poorly coached, undisciplined, with shoddy tackling, and an offensive line that cannot protect the quarterback.
The score at half-time was 28-7 with the Rams having gained a net total of 32 yards, and penalized 46 yards. Petitbon and McRae returned their interceptions for 56 yards. Dismal? You betcha.
Los Angeles outgains Chicago in the second half 171 to 142, but every time the Bears needed to make a play on either offense or defense—THEY DID.
The only real highlight for Los Angeles is the performance of Carroll Dale who runs sharp routes, displays sure hands as he gains 111 yards on his 5 catches. The Bears on their way to a championship take the ball away 8 times and sack Baker & Bratkowski for 50 yards.
Why highlight this game? Simple reason—the Rams had a quarterback who can lead a team, and make every throw; the first-round draft pick from the year before Roman Gabriel.
|Gabriel vs Bears later in 1963|
|Rams talent defensive line. Credit: Spokeo|