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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / What if the Super Bowl Began in 1960: Super Bowl IV Bears-Chargers 1963

What if the Super Bowl Began in 1960: Super Bowl IV Bears-Chargers 1963

What if
Publish Date: 10/11/2020
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

The first 3 Super Bowls were won handily by the NFL, the last Super Bowl between the Texans and Packers was the most competitive game so far in the series, would this trend continue? The Chargers bring a high powered offense to the game to face the equally high powered Bears defense. The first 3 Super Bowls saw the NFL open as huge favorites of more than 23 points each game. This game the Bears are favored by 19 points, and it seems around the country that this game might end up closer than the experts think.

Chicago Bears

In the regular season, Chicago defeated the Green Bay Packers (11โ€“2โ€“1) twice to deny them a third consecutive NFL title. In the championship game on December 29, the Bears defeated the Giants 14โ€“10 at Wrigley Field for the club’s eighth league title, and their last under legendary head coach George Halas.

George Allen was Halas’s defensive coordinator came up with a new zone defense that befuddled NFL opponents. With Doug Atkins and Ed O’Bradovich pressuring opposing QBs from their defensive end slots, and Bill George and Larry Morris defending against short passes from the linebacker position, the Bears picked off 36 passes, and allowed just 10.3 points and 227 yards per game. The Bears went on to win the NFL championship, thanks to the Defense. In the title game against Y.A. Tittle and the Giants, who had the best offense in the NFL, Chicago’s five picks were the key, as the Bears won 14โ€“10. George Allen got the game ball.

Offensively the Bears averaged 21 points a game, they had no running back even break the 500 yard mark for the season. QB Billy Wade had a good season throwing 15 TD passes to 12 interceptions. Mike Ditka was the team’s leading receiver with 59 receptions for 794 yards and 8 TD’s.

San Diego Chargers

The team had gone 4โ€“10 record in 1962. They won their only AFL Championship with a 51โ€“10 win over the Boston Patriots in Balboa Stadium.ย Receiver Lance Alworth was named the league M.V.P.

The Chargers offense led by coach Sid Gillman’s wide open attack averaged 28 points a game. The running game was led by Paul Lowe’s 1,010 yards rushing and Keith Lincoln’s 826 yards and 5 TD’s. Qb Tobin Rote passed for 20 TD’s and over 2,500 yards. The star of the offense had to be receiver Lance Alworth who brought in 61 passes for 1,205 yards and 11 TD’s.

On defense the Chargers gave up an average of 18 points a game and where led by MLB Chuck Allen who picked off 5 passes and stopped the run and CB Dick Harris who led the Chargers with 8 picks.

The Game

You couldn’t get a bigger contrast in styles or a better coaching matchup. The Bears had defensive coordinator George Allen one of the greatest defensive coaches in history and the Chargers had head coach Sid Gillman the father of the modern passing game. The big question is will Gillman be able to figure out Allen’s zone defense? Also could the Bears mount any kind of an offensive attack in this game? They had won the NFL title over the Giants pretty much by letting the defense win the game for them. I don’t think they will be able to score just 14 points and beat the Chargers.

The Outcome

The Bears waste no time taking the opening kickoff and driving 77 yards on 14 plays and taking a 7-0 lead on a two yard TD run by RB Ronnie Bull. The Chargers offense seems confused by the Bears zone defense and goes 3 and out on both series in the first quarter. The quarter ends with the Bears up 7-0. The Bears add a field goal half way into the second quarter to take a 10-0 lead. With one minute left in the half Tobin rote throws an interception that Bears DB Rosey Taylor returns 30 yards for a TD. The Bears lead at the half 17-0 and have held the Chargers to just 57 yards of total offense.

Gillman obviously made some adjustments at halftime as the Chargers come out and drive all the way to the Bears one on 4 short plays, the biggest being a 45 yard pass to Lance Alworth. Paul Lowe takes it in from the one and cuts the Bears lead to 17-7. Both teams struggle to move the ball the rest of the third quarter. With 30 seconds left in the quarter and the Bears pinned inside their own 10 yard line, RB Ronnie Bull is hit by Chargers LB Chuck Allen and fumbles, the Chargers recover at the Bears 7 yard line. On the final play off the third quarter Rote hits TE Dave Kocourek in the end zone to cut the lead to 17-14.

The fourth quarter turns into a slugfest as both teams are now fighting for their respective lives, the Chargers strike first with 9 minutes left, Alworth pulls in a pace and races 60 yards in for the TD giving the Chargers a 21-17 lead. The stadium is going crazy as everybody who is not a Bears fan is now cheering for the underdog. The Bears start the next drive at their own 30 and on a huge 3rd and 10 Mike Ditka makes a huge catch and gains 15 yards to get the all important first down. The Bears start marching down the field behind the running of Ronnie Bull. With 3 minutes left in the game and facing a 3rd and goal at the 5, QB Billy Wade rolls to his right and finds receiver Johnny Morris streaking thru the back of the endzone and hits him for a TD!

The Bears ensuing extra point attempt is BLOCKED! The Bears lead 23-21 with 2 minutes and 45 seconds left. The Chargers return the Bears kickoff all the way out to the Bears 41 yard line. On first down Rote hits RB Keith Lincoln on a swing pass out of the backfield good for 15 yards. The clock runs to the two minute warning.

After two incomplete passes Rote hits Lance Alworth at the Bears 20 yard line for a huge first down. The Chargers call timeout to talk it over and they have one timeout remaining. Rote hands the ball to Paul Lowe who gains 5 yards down to the Bears 15 and the clock runs. With a minute left Rote hits Alworth on a quick slant that gives the Chargers a first and goal at the Bears 9 yard line. The Chargers huddle up and snap the ball with 32 seconds left as Rote hands the ball to Lowe who barrells down to the 5 yard line. The Bears only have one time-out left and do not use it, the Chargers let the clock run down to 3 seconds left and call a time-out.

Everything rides on the shoulders of kicker George Blair who will lineup to attempt a 12 yard field goal, luckily the ball is in the middle of the field. The Bears use their final time out and discuss how to possibly block this kick. Blair has to feel like the weight of the entire world is on his shoulders. The ball is snapped the holder gets the ball down perfectly and Blair kicks the ball straight down the middle! The Chargers have pulled the biggest upset in Pro Football history beating the Bears 24-23. The AFL will no longer have to hear that it is the inferior league. The Chargers carry Head Coach Sid Gillman off the field and into history!

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