NFL – Throwback Thursday: Taking Liberties

28 Sep

The Los Angeles Rams tangle with the Indianapolis Colts this week in the NFL, and we decided to take some liberties with the Throwback Thursday post by featuring a game that was played at the L.A. Coliseum on September 28, 1951. That day the Rams took on an NFL club called the New York Yanks. That New York franchise has a sketchy past, and here’s how it played out. After moving from Boston, the team had 2 less than successful seasons in the Big Apple, and in 1951 was sold to a group of Dallas businessmen who moved it to Dallas. That team failed after a single season, and what was left of the franchise was awarded to a group from Baltimore. They then started the Baltimore Colts franchise.  Even though the NFL doesn’t recognize this team as the ancestors of the current Colt team, we will for the sake of being able to feature this memorable game.

It was the opening week of the ’51 season, and in an era of three yards and a cloud of dust football, it turned out to be a record-setting passing day for one Norm Van Brocklin, the Rams’ quarterback. He torched the Yanks’ secondary for 554 yards and 5 touchdowns on 27 of 41 passing, with the yardage mark a record that still stands today, 72 years later. The Rams won the game 54-14, with a dominant display on both sides of the ball. They racked up 735 yards of offense and the 54 points despite turning the ball over 5 times, three times on interceptions to go with 2 lost fumbles. The Los Angeles club, known as an offensive powerhouse in the 1950s, was relentless with their attack all day. Three of their receivers totaled over 100 yards, with Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch leading the way with 9 catches for 173 yards and 4 TDs. Another future Hall of Famer, Tom Fears, grabbed 7 passes for 162 yards, while a guy named Vitamin Smith added some pep to the attack with 2 receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown. The Rams also had a pair of rushing touchdowns on runs from Dick Hoerner and Deacon Dan Towler to round out the scoring.

The L.A. defense actually pitched a shutout in the game also, as the Yanks’ 2 touchdowns came on a 79 yard punt return by Buddy Young and a 30 yard return of a recovered fumble by Art Tait. New York only amassed 166 yards of total offense, and the 569 yard difference between the 2 teams stood as a record yardage spread until 2009, when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots crushed Tennessee 59-0 and piled up 619 more yards than the Titans. The game turned out to be very indicative of the fortunes of the clubs in the 1951 season, as the Rams would go on to defeat Cleveland for the league title, and the Yanks would win only a single game before being sold to the new Dallas owners prior to the ’52 season.


Van Brocklin’s record day memorialized



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