1944 NFL season

Last updated

1944 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 17 – December 17, 1944
East Champions New York Giants
West Champions Green Bay Packers
Championship Game
Champions Green Bay Packers

The 1944 NFL season was the 25th regular season of the United States National Football League. The Boston Yanks joined the league as an expansion team. Also, the Brooklyn Dodgers changed their name to Brooklyn Tigers. Meanwhile, both the Cleveland Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles resumed their traditional operations, while the Pittsburgh Steelers merged with the Chicago Cardinals for this one season due to player shortages as a result of World War II. The combined team, known as Card-Pitt, played three home games in Pittsburgh and two in Chicago, and set the 20th century record for lowest punting average by an NFL team with 32.7 yards per punt. [1]

Contents

The season is notable in that it featured two winless teams, the only such case in NFL history since 1935 (when the league stabilized from its early years of revolving door membership, when winless teams were much more common) as both Brooklyn and Card-Pitt finished 0–10.

Since 1944, only five teams have had winless seasons in the NFL: the 1960 Dallas Cowboys (0–11–1), the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0–14), the 1982 Baltimore Colts (0–8–1) the 2008 Detroit Lions (0–16), and the 2017 Cleveland Browns (0–16). In the case of the Colts, the season was shortened due to a league-wide players strike, while the Cowboys and Buccaneers were both expansion teams.

The season ended when the Green Bay Packers defeated the New York Giants in the NFL Championship Game.

Major rule changes

Division races

Each team played ten games over thirteen weeks. The Brooklyn Tigers lost seven of their games by a touchdown or less. On October 29, they had 14–7 lead over Boston at halftime, before losing 17–14 in Week Seven. The same week, Card-Pitt's 42–20 loss at Washington eliminated it from playoff contention. Card-Pitt had actually taken a 28–23 lead over the Rams in its first game, played September 24 at Pittsburgh, before falling 30–28; its only other lead was a 7–0 in a game at Chicago against the Packers, which it eventually lost 35–20.

The Western Division race was no contest, as the Packers won their first six games and stayed ahead of all challengers. In the Eastern Division, Washington (5–0–1) and Philadelphia (4–0–2) were both unbeaten after nine weeks. The teams met in Washington in Week Ten (November 26), and the Eagles won 37–7, putting them at 5–0–2, with the Redskins and Giants a half game back at 5–1–1. The Eagles lost, while the Giants and Redskins won, in Week Eleven, putting New York and Washington in the lead at 6–1–1. In Week Twelve, a crowd of 47,457 turned out at New York's Polo Grounds to watch the Giants and Redksins. Washington had a 13–10 lead before falling 16–13. In Week Thirteen, the Eagles beat the Rams 26–13, giving them a 7–1–2 finish, then waited to see how the 7–1–1 Giants would fare in their rematch at Washington. The Giants beat the Skins 31–0, capturing the division and the right to host the championship.

Final standings

NFL Eastern Division
WLTPCTDIVPFPASTK
New York Giants 811.8896–1–120675W4
Philadelphia Eagles 712.8756–0–2267131W2
Washington Redskins 631.6674–3–1169180L2
Boston Yanks 280.2002–682233L2
Brooklyn Tigers 0100.0000-869166L0

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.

NFL Western Division
WLTPCTDIVPFPASTK
Green Bay Packers 820.8007–1238141W1
Chicago Bears 631.6674–3–1258172W2
Detroit Lions 631.6674–3–1216151W4
Cleveland Rams 460.4004–4188224L2
Card-Pitt 0100.0000–8108328L10

NFL Championship Game

Green Bay 14, N.Y. Giants 7, at Polo Grounds, New York City, December 17, 1944

Awards

Joe F. Carr Trophy (Most Valuable Player)   Frank Sinkwich, Halfback, Detroit

League leaders

StatisticNameTeamYards
Passing Irv Comp Green Bay1159
Rushing Bill Paschal New York737
Receiving Don Hutson Green Bay866

Draft

The 1944 NFL Draft was held on April 19, 1944 at Philadelphia's Warwick Hotel. With the first pick, the Boston Yanks selected quarterback Angelo Bertelli from the University of Notre Dame.

Coaching changes

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References

  1. Kiss Em Goodbye: An ESPN Treasury of failed, forgotten, and departed teams, p.69, Dennis Purdy, Ballantine Books, New York, 2010, ISBN   978-0-345-52012-8