On this day in 1940, the Chicago Bears trounce the Washington Redskins in the National Football League (NFL) Championship by a score of 73-0, the largest margin of defeat in NFL history. The Bears, coached by George Halas, brought a 6-2 record to their regular-season meeting with the Redskins in Washington on November 17, 1940. After Chicago lost 3-7, the Redskins owner, George Preston Marshall, told reporters that Halas and his team were “quitters” and “cry babies.” Halas used Marshall’s words to galvanize his players, and the Bears scored 78 points in their next two games to set up a showdown with the Redskins in the league’s championship game on December 8, also in Washington.
Less than a minute into the game, the Bears’ running back Bill Osmanski ran 68 yards to score the first touchdown. After the Redskins narrowly missed an opportunity to tie the game, the Bears clamped down and began to dominate, leaving the field at halftime with a 28-0 lead. Things only got worse for the Redskins, and by the end of the second half officials were asking Halas not to let his team kick for extra points, as they were running out of footballs after too many had been kicked into the stands.
The Bears followed their history-making win with two more consecutive championships, including a game against the New York Giants at Chicago’s Wrigley Field just two weeks after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. Many great football players were subsequently drafted into World War II, and Halas himself would leave in 1942 for a tour of duty in the Pacific. In 1946, after the war ended, Halas and a number of former players returned to the team, and the Bears won their fourth NFL Championship in seven years.