Tuesday, November 2, 2021

TUESDAY TIDBITS: "The Battle for Ohio"

By TJ Troup 
When the NFL merger came about in 1970 there was a reconfiguration of the six divisions in the league, and for the first time Paul Brown's old team would face his new team for supremacy in Ohio, and possibly a division title. Many years have passed and if you are sixty-one years old, and live in Ohio between Cleveland and Cincinnati you have witnessed and probably watched some of the pitched battles between the Browns and Bengals. 

Twelve times since 1970 the Browns have earned a playoff berth, and fourteen times the Bengals have. Discounting the '82 tournament (almost everyone seemed to be in a postseason game), only ONCE in 1988 have both teams made the playoffs in the same year (the teams split the two games). 

So, if somehow they both did earn their way into the playoffs this year, that certainly would be news! There have been years when both teams just flat out stunk; oh, you want to know which years? As recently as 2019 the Ohio teams had a combined record of 8-24, and there are other years you can look up and do the math and see that these two teams were also-rans in the AFC. This coming Sunday is a meaningful game on the banks of the Ohio River as a Bengal team no one thought would be competitive this year, and a Browns team some believed was Super Bowl-bound continue the rivalry. 

The rematch on January 9th sure could have an impact on the standings in the new seventeen game season. We are nearing the half-way point in the season, and in a couple weeks will attempt to convey where we are headed? 
Now to history; Halloween 1988 and the 3-5 Colts host the defending AFC champion 4-4 Broncos on Monday Night Football. Eric Dickerson explodes for 124 rushing yards in the first half (he finishes with 159), and scores four times in the 55-23 victory. 

While there are many other games on October 31st that could be singled out, including the 1948 game between the Redskins and Yanks; let us return to October 31st, 1943. Wilbur Moore is in his fifth year in Washington, and has contributed to the success of the team but he has his finest season. Washington has won twelve straight games, and are the defending league champions, and with such a strong team led by future Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh they believe they will return to the title game. 
The Brooklyn Dodgers take the field wearing their red jerseys, and as such the 'Skins are clad in BLACK jersey's and the color film of the game is sure a fun one to watch, and analyze. Moore ranks 12th in league in rushing with 130 yards gained on just 14 carries. Wilbur sometimes aligns as a fullback or halfback in the backfield, yet he is usually flanked or set up as a wingback. Many of his rushing attempts are sweeps, and he has the speed and moves to average 9.2 a carry(in this game he carries three times for twelve yards). 

Since Sid Luckman is having a career year with the Bears, and Irv Comp of the Packers is off to a great start—Slingin' Sam ranks third in passing, though with impressive stats; 36 of 66 for 435 yards, with 8 touchdown tosses, and just four interceptions. Maybe the Texan should have always worn black, 'cause boy oh boy does he shred the Dodger defense. 

End Joe Aguirre has a fine afternoon with 4 receptions for 100 yards, and two scores, but this day belongs to Moore. Wilbur had caught 15 passes in his career entering 1943, but when the 'Skins were warming up, Moore already with 13 catches for 211 yards knows he can surpass his career total after just four games of  '43. 

Baugh is a master at aligning his team in a variety of formations. Oh, you want to know what formations he uses? 
Why, glad to share that the 'Skins are in single-wing power right or left, double-wing right or left, and at times the backs are out wider and look much like the formations we see today in a "spread" offense. Baugh learned offense in his college days at TCU, and now in his seventh year has even added a couple wrinkles. Finding #35 Moore sometimes had to rewind the film to see where he was aligned but did not really matter to the Brooklyn defenders since they did not stop him all day. 
Wilbur grabs 7 passes for 213 yards, and two scores in the 48-10 destruction of the Dodgers (Washington at one point trailed 10-7). Moore's first touchdown is a simple down and out and after nabbing Baugh's well-timed accurate pass he breaks the attempted tackle to dash an additional 45 yards down the right sideline to paydirt. 

His second score he is also aligned as a flanker right and begins with a standard post pattern, and he is open, but Sam holds the ball longer and lofts the ball towards the opposite hash mark, thus Moore almost looks to be running an arrow route right to left. 

Wilbur's speed has him easily outrunning the Dodger defenders on the longest catch of his career—72 yards. When the league leader stats are published on November 3rd we see the immortal "Alabama Antelope" Don Hutson on top of the receiver chart (what else is new) with 23 receptions for 328 yards, and five touchdowns. Moore now ranks second with 20 catches for an impressive 424 yards and a league-leading six touchdowns. Baugh by the way now ranks second to Luckman in passing after completing 16 of 28 for 376 yards, and six scores. 

In the last six games of the campaign Moore catches just 10 passes for 113 yards, and one touchdown as opponent defenses (especially the Bears & Giants) focused on him. Washington won just two of those six games, yet hung one to tie for the Eastern Crown. Moore earned Second-team All-Pro honors from the New York Daily News.

1 comment:

  1. Red and Black jersies ... perfect for All Hollows Eve ...