December Moments

Updated: October 18, 2005, 6:41 PM ET

December 1
Baseball
1924: St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Rogers Hornsby bats .424, the highest mark recorded in the 20th century, and doesn't even win the National League MVP. The award goes to Brooklyn right-hander Dazzy Vance, who leads the National League in wins (28, against just six losses), earned run average (2.16), complete games (30) and strikeouts (262).

Vance receives 74 of the possible 80 points from the eight sportswriters (one from each National League city) who vote for the award. Hornsby trails by 12 points and doesn't get a vote -- not even a 10th-place ballot -- from Cincinnati's Jack Ryder.

"I will concede Hornsby is a most valuable player to himself," Ryder says, "but not to his team. On that basis I couldn't give him a solitary vote."

Brooklyn finished second with a 92-62 record, 1 1/2 games behind the New York Giants, while St. Louis went 65-89 and came in fifth, 28 1/2 games out.
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December 2
College Football
1972: In high school in California, Anthony Davis once scored five touchdowns in a game. Today, against mighty Notre Dame, A.D. goes one better as he single-handedly dismantles the Fighting Irish. Southern Cal's sophomore speedster returns two kickoffs for touchdowns (97 yards to open the game and 96 after Notre Dame cuts its deficit to 25-23) and also scores on runs of 1, 5, 4 and 8 yards.

No other player has ever scored six touchdowns against Notre Dame. Davis' scintillating performance leads the No. 1 Trojans to a 45-23 victory before 75,243 fans in the Los Angeles Coliseum. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound tailback finishes with 99 yards on 22 carries, and becomes the first USC sophomore to pass 1,000 yards at a school that has produced Mike Garrett, Frank Gifford and Jon Arnett.

"Anthony Davis is the greatest I've ever seen on kickoff returns in college," says Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian. "We knew he was good, but we thought we could handle it."
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December 3
Pro Football
1950: The Cleveland Browns, in their first year in the National Football League, have a score to settle: After the Browns defeated the Eagles in the season opener, Philadelphia coach Greasy Neale criticized Cleveland for not running the ball and continually throwing passes.

Otto Graham, who passed for three touchdowns and a remarkable 346 yards in the Browns' 35-10 opening-game victory, tries only one pass today -- and it's nullified by a man in motion penalty. Playing on a muddy Cleveland field in a hard rain, the Browns manage just 68 yards on the ground and only one first down.

But they get the last laugh as they register a 13-7 victory, eliminating the two-time defending champions from a possible playoff berth. The Eagles attempt 23 passes, completing eight for 81 yards. The Browns score on a 30-yard interception return by Warren Lahr on the game's fourth play and two Lou Groza field goals.

This is the last time an NFL team has played a game without throwing a pass.
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December 4
Pro Football
1977: The pain continues for the Tampa Bay Bucs, who entered the National Football League last season and lost all 14 games. Today, their still-standing record losing streak stretches to 26, seven more than any other pro football team has ever lost consecutively. The Bucs are beaten 10-0 at home by the Chicago Bears, who get all their points in the fourth quarter, including Walter Payton's three-yard touchdown run.

However, coach John McKay's troops will end the season on a bit of a high after winning their last two games, 33-14 over the New Orleans Saints and 17-7 over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Pro Basketball
1987: Consistency has been the hallmark of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: He's scored in double digits in 787 consecutive regular-season games over 10 years -- until tonight. The Los Angeles Lakers' center, the National Basketball Association's all-time leading scorer, is held to seven points by his former team, the Milwaukee Bucks, in an 85-83 Laker loss in Milwaukee.

Abdul-Jabbar shoots 3-of-10 from the field.

His double-digit record will last for a decade, until it's broken by -- who else? -- Michael Jordan.
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December 5
Baseball
1951: Beloved then banned, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson dies of a heart attack in Greenville, S.C. One of the eight Black Sox charged with throwing the 1919 World Series, Jackson is a liquor store owner when he passes away. He is 62, 63 or 64, depending on the publication.

Though a jury found Jackson and his cohorts innocent in August 1921, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned all eight from baseball for life.

Jackson hit .375 in the 1919 World Series, which his Chicago White Sox lost in eight games to the Cincinnati Reds. In 1920, his final season, Jackson batted .382 with career-highs of 12 homers and 121 runs batted in plus an American League-leading 20 triples. A left-handed hitter, Jackson compiled a lifetime average of .356, third best all-time, and batted .408 in 1911 for the Cleveland Indians in his first full season.

College Football
1981: Southern Cal senior Marcus Allen, the first college player to run for more than 2,000 yards in a season, becomes the fourth Trojan running back in 17 years to win the Heisman Trophy. "I know this sounds self-centered," Allen says, "but I would have voted for myself."

The 6-foot-2, 202-pound tailback rushed for 2,342 yards, a record that would be broken by Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders in 1988. Allen's 403 carries (36.6 a game) are a still-standing NCAA record.

He averaged 5.8 yards a carry, scored 23 touchdowns, ran for more than 200 yards eight times and set or tied 12 NCAA records while leading USC to a 9-2 record.
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December 6
College Football
1930: At 42, Knute Rockne is at the pinnacle of his storied career. Notre Dame finished an impressive new stadium on the South Bend campus earlier in the season and then caps its second consecutive national championship with a 27-0 rout of Southern Cal before a crowd estimated at 90,000 in Los Angeles.

Because of an injury to the Fighting Irish's fullback, Bucky O'Connor, who had been the second-string halfback, gets a start at fullback for the USC game. He justifies Rockne's move by scoring two touchdowns, including an 80-yard dash. The victory is Notre Dame's 19th straight, as it goes 10-0 after a 9-0 campaign in 1929.

This is Rockne's last game. He coached the Irish for 13 years, compiling a record of 105-12-5, for a winning percentage of .881, the highest in NCAA history. In the spring, Rockne will be killed in an airplane crash.

Pro Football
1925: "The Galloping Ghost" comes to New York, and a crowd estimated at 70,000 comes to see him. Red Grange's presence at the Polo Grounds helps save the financially troubled Giants franchise. Signed by the Chicago Bears two weeks earlier, Grange also profits from the huge crowd, with The New York Times reporting that the running back receives $30,000 for the game.

Grange scores a touchdown on a 35-yard interception return in the Bears' 19-7 victory. Offensively, he runs for 53 yards on 11 carries, catches a 23-yard pass and completes two-of-three passes for 32 yards.

To take advantage of Grange turning pro, the Bears have concocted a hybrid schedule -- part regular season, part exhibitions -- in which they play 19 games in 67 days. The first part of the frantic tour has them playing 10 games in 18 days in the East and Midwest. After a two-week break the Bears will play nine games in the South and on the West Coast. Grange will play in 17 games and earn about $100,000.

1987: Joe Montana, who completed his final five passes last week against the Cleveland Browns, connects on his first 17 passes today against the Green Bay Packers, setting a still-standing National Football League record of 22 consecutive completions. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback breaks the record of 20 straight completions by Ken Anderson, set with the Cincinnati Bengals in 1983.

In San Francisco's 23-12 victory, Montana passes for two touchdowns, including a 57-yarder to Jerry Rice. He completes 26-of-35 passes for 308 yards as the 49ers clinch their fifth straight playoff berth.
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December 7
College Football
1963: In the fourth quarter of Navy's 21-15 victory over Army, history is made. Not by the Cadets or Midshipmen, but by CBS.

When Army quarterback Rollie Stichweh fakes a handoff to his tailback and goes off-tackle to score from the one-yard line, CBS immediately plays back an isolated look at Stichweh to a national audience.

CBS' Tony Verna, who directed the game, said, "(Announcer) Lindsey Nelson kept screaming, 'This is a videotape. They did not score again. They did not score again.' If you did that now, they'd throw a net over you."

Instant replay is born.

Pro Football
1941: A season-high crowd of 55,051 at the Polo Grounds watches the Brooklyn Dodgers defeat the first-place New York Giants 21-7, the Dodgers' third straight victory over the Giants.

Immediately after the game, there is a public-address announcement requesting all military personnel to report to their stations. The reason for the announcement is the surprise attack of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese earlier in the day. The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt will ask for and receive a declaration of war on Japan.
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December 8
Pro Football
1940: Three weeks earlier, after Washington defeated Chicago 7-3, Redskins owner George Preston Marshall called the Bears "crybabies." Talk about your bulletin-board material. George Halas has his psyched-up Bears ready for today's rematch, and they play virtually a flawless game. With quarterback Sid Luckman, who plays just the first half, brilliantly showcasing the T-formation, the Bears destroy the Redskins 73-0 in the most lopsided championship game ever.

In the third quarter alone, the Bears return three intercepted passes for touchdowns to increase their lead to 54-0 at Griffith Stadium in Washington. "Everything we did, we did right," Halas says. "Everything they did was wrong."

Like early in the game, after the Bears take a 7-0 lead on fullback Bill Osmanski's 68-yard touchdown run, what looks like a sure touchdown pass from Washington's Sammy Baugh is dropped by Charley Malone. When Baugh is asked if that pass had been caught would the outcome have been different, he answers in his Texas drawl, "Yeah, I suppose it would have made it 73-7."
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December 9
Pro Football
1934: In the National Football League championship game being played on a frozen field at the Polo Grounds, the New York Giants' most significant advantage over the Chicago Bears isn't on offense, defense or on special teams. It's on their feet.

To the amazement of the Bears and some 37,000 fans, the Giants come out for the second half wearing basketball sneakers. This unorthodox equipment helps the Giants gain better traction and rally from a 10-3 halftime deficit. Scoring 27 points in the fourth quarter, they defeat the previously undefeated Bears, who had beaten them twice during the regular season, by a 30-13 margin.

"The sneakers gave them an edge in that last half," says Bears star fullback Bronko Nagurski, "for they were able to cut back when they were running with the ball and we couldn't cut with them."

The contest will forever be known as the "Sneakers Game."
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December 10
College Football
1935: University of Chicago halfback Jay Berwanger receives the first Downtown Athletic Club Trophy, signifying that he is the best college player east of the Mississippi River. By the next year, the award will be known as the Heisman Trophy -- named after the late John Heisman, the DAC's first director of athletics and a famed football coach -- and it will go to the best player in the country.

Of the 107 players against whom Berwanger competed against in 1935, 104 named him the best halfback.

With the first selection of the 1936 draft, the Philadelphia Eagles will select Berwanger, who rushed for 1,839 yards in his career. But he will pass on pro football and after World War II he will launch a successful business career that will make him a millionaire.
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December 11
Boxing
1981: Despite almost unanimous advice to retire at age 39, an overweight Muhammad Ali goes to Nassau in the Bahamas for one more payday. A decade earlier -- even a few years earlier -- Ali would have handled Trevor Berbick with ease.

But it's another story tonight. The 218-pound Berbick pounds the former three-time heavyweight champion in the ribs, pushes him around the ring, and occasionally scores hard shots over and around Ali's attempts to jab and clinch. Ali, who weighs 236 1/4 pounds, is a shell of himself and loses a unanimous 10-round decision.

"He was too strong," Ali says. "I could feel the youth. Age is slipping up on me."

Ali will never fight again. He retires with a 56-5 record.
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December 12
Pro Football
1965: Gale Sayers, the Chicago Bears' remarkable rookie, scores six touchdowns, tying a National Football League record set by the Chicago Cardinals' Ernie Nevers in 1929 and matched by the Cleveland Browns' Dub Jones in 1951.

Sayers' first touchdown comes on an 80-yard screen pass and his last is on an 85-yard punt return. In between he scores on runs of 21, 7, 50 and 1 yard in the Bears' 61-20 rout of the San Francisco 49ers in Wrigley Field. The 6-foot, 200-pound Sayers gains a total of 336 yards -- 113 rushing, 89 on receptions and 134 on punt returns.

The touchdown outburst brings Sayers' season total to 21, one more than the previous NFL best. He will finish the year with 22, but that record will be broken several times, the last by Dallas Cowboy Emmitt Smith, who will score 25 in 1995. However, no first-year player will break Sayers' rookie record of 22 touchdowns.
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December 13
Baseball
1956: Dodger fans are in shock as Brooklyn trades Jackie Robinson to its hated rival, the New York Giants, for journeyman lefthander Dick Littlefield and cash, estimated at $30,000. The daring Robinson, the first African-American to crack the color barrier in the 20th century, has spent his entire 10-year career with the Dodgers, compiling a .311 batting average and winning the National League MVP in 1949.

But the 37-year-old Robinson, whose once-great skills have diminished, will never play a game for the Giants. In January, in an article in Look magazine, he will announce that he is retiring from the game. He will join Chock Full O'Nuts, a lunch-counter chain, as a vice president.

Any chance of Robinson changing his mind will end when Buzzy Bavasi, a Dodger vice president, implies that after Robinson is paid for the byline story in Look he will accept the Giants' offer for a larger contract. "After Buzzy said that," Robinson will say, "there was no way I'd ever play again."

Pro Football
1942: The Chicago Bears are looking for their third consecutive NFL championship as well as becoming the first team to post a perfect season. They had outscored the opposition by more than 4-to-1, 376 points to 84, in compiling an 11-0 record.

Their opposition in today's championship game is the Washington Redskins, whom they humiliated 73-0 in the title game two years earlier. The Bears take a 6-0 lead in Washington when tackle Lee Artoe returns a fumble 50 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.

But these aren't the '40 'Skins. Sam Baugh connects with Wilbur Moore for a 38-yard touchdown pass and the extra point gives Washington a 7-6 halftime lead. Andy Farkas' one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter seals the Redskins' 14-6 victory, snapping the Bears' 18-game winning streak.
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December 14
Tennis
1967: While the International Lawn Tennis Federation has repeatedly rejected open tennis proposals, the tennis barons of Britain defy tradition and vote overwhelmingly to abolish the line between amateurs and pros. This "revolt" by the British Lawn Tennis Association, by a vote of 295-5, opens the way for open tennis at Wimbledon.

The move is made because the English are tired of the hypocrisy in the sport, the shamateurism that plagues high-class tennis. It is well known that amateurs bargain for -- and receive -- exorbitant expenses to compete at many tournaments.

"We must take action on our own account to make the game honest," said Derek Penmam of the British association. "For too long now we have been governed by a set of amateur rules that are quite unenforceable."

NFL
1969: In his only season with Washington, Vince Lombardi gets his last win as an NFL coach, as the Redskins defeat the New Orleans Saints, 17-14, in Washington in the next-to-last game of the season. The victory guarantees Lombardi a winning season in all 10 years of his coaching career, with the first nine coming with the Green Bay Packers.

While Lombardi will lose his final game the next week, the Redskins still will finish with a 7-5-2 record, their first winning season in 14 seasons.

On Sept. 3, 1970, Lombardi will die of cancer. He will finish with a career record of 105-36-5, including a 9-1 postseason record with the Packers.
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December 15
College Football
1962: Oregon State's Terry Baker had become the first West Coast player to win the Heisman Trophy after leading the nation in offense. Today, the senior quarterback accounts for the only points in the Liberty Bowl when his breath-taking 99-yard run in the first period gives the Beavers a 6-0 victory over Villanova.

The versatile Baker, who will graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering, will complete a unique "double" in the spring when he will lead Oregon State's basketball team into the Final Four.

Hockey
1925: Sports promoter Tex Rickard officially opens the first Madison Square Garden with a hockey game. Before an enthusiastic and capacity crowd of 17,000, which includes many society matrons of New York and Canada, the New York Americans drop a 3-1 decision to the Montreal Canadiens.

Before the game, the spacious lobby looks like the foyer at the opera as fashionably gowned women are there in furs and jewels. However, there is none of the reserve and aloofness usually associated with the typical society gathering. Society catches the spirit of the hockey fans, and the crowd enjoys Canada's national game.
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December 16
Pro Football
1973: By running for 219 yards against the New England Patriots the previous week, O.J. Simpson positioned himself to crack the 2,000-yard barrier. On the frozen tundra at snow-covered Shea Stadium today, in the season finale, the Buffalo Bills running back doesn't disappoint his followers.

He runs through the New York Jets for exactly 200 yards to become the National Football League's first 2,000-yard man, finishing with 2,003 and breaking Jim Brown's 10-year-old record of 1,863 yards.

After the game, the Juice predicts his record will fall someday. It does -- in 1984, when Eric Dickerson will gain 2,105 yards for the Los Angeles Rams. But Simpson remains the only running back in NFL history to better 2,000 yards in 14 games.

Pro Basketball
1961: Two days after Wilt Chamberlain has his consecutive streak of scoring at least 50 points stopped at five -- he's "held" to 43 points by the Syracuse Nationals -- the Philadelphia Warrior center begins a new streak. Against the Chicago Packers he scores 50 to start a National Basketball Association record seven-game scoring tear of at least 50 points.

If not for that "off" night against Syracuse, Chamberlain would have scored at least 50 points in 13 consecutive games.

Chamberlain will score at least 50 points 45 times this season and average 50.4 points a game, both NBA records. He will score at least 50 points in his career 118 times; Michael Jordan will be second with 30.
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December 17
Pro Football
1933: For the first time, the NFL schedules a championship game before the season. In today's title game at Wrigley Field, the New York Giants take a 21-16 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Harry Newman to Ken Strong. It is the second touchdown pass of the game for Newman, who completes 12-of-17 passes for 201 yards.

But the defending champion Chicago Bears aren't through. In the closing minutes, with the ball on the Giants' 33-yard line, Bronko Nagurski throws a jump pass to end Bill Hewitt, who reaches the 19, when he makes a long lateral to the other end, Billy Karr. Eluding two Giant defenders, Karr races into the end zone for his second touchdown, giving the Bears the lead.

In the final seconds, Red Grange preserves Chicago's 23-21 victory with a touchdown-saving tackle.
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December 18
Pro Football
1932: When the Chicago Bears (6-1-6) and Portsmouth Spartans (6-1-4) finish the season tied for first, they schedule a championship game at Wrigley Field. However, because of a blizzard in Chicago, the game is moved indoors to Chicago Stadium, a venue a circus had just left. The field is only 80 yards long and special rules are adopted, such as the ball being moved back 20 yards every time one team crosses midfield.

The game is scoreless through three quarters when the Bears' Dick Nesbitt returns an intercepted pass deep into Portsmouth territory early in the last period. After moving the ball to the two-yard line, Bronko Nagurski fakes a plunge into the line, backs up a couple of steps, and throws a pass to Red Grange, waiting in the end zone.

The Bears tack on a late safety to give them a 9-0 victory before 11,198 fans.
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December 19
College Football
1980: With SMU's Craig James running for 225 yards and three touchdowns and Eric Dickerson dashing for 110 yards and two touchdowns, the Mustangs are in complete control at the Holiday Bowl, holding a 20-point lead with less than three minutes left. But then BYU makes it interesting when junior quarterback Jim McMahon throws a touchdown pass and after an onside kick is recovered, the Cougars score again to cut their deficit to 45-39.

SMU fails to run out the clock and its punt is blocked, giving BYU the ball on SMU's 41-yard line with 18 seconds left. After two incompletions, McMahon, who already has passed for 405 yards, throws a Hail Mary.

BYU's prayers are answered when 6-foot-3, 230-pound tight end Clay Brown outleaps SMU's defensive backs for the ball in the end zone. Kurt Gunther's extra point gives BYU the incredible 46-45 victory.

Hockey
1917: Although granted a franchise in the newly formed NHL, the Quebec Bulldogs choose not to participate until next season. This enables the Montreal Canadiens to sign Quebec's top player, "Phantom Joe" Malone, for the 22-game season.

In today's opener, Malone scores five goals in the Canadiens' 7-4 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Malone will go on to lead the league by scoring a remarkable 44 goals in only 20 games.

Pro Football
1948: Because of a driving snowstorm that makes it difficult to remove the tarpaulin over the field at Shibe Park in Philadelphia, the players must help the grounds crew to remove it. The game starts a half-hour late. Chains can't be used for measurements and the sidelines are marked by ropes tied to stakes.

The crowd of 28,864 watches the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Cardinals slip, slither and skid over the snow-covered field. The two teams combine for a total of 47 yards passing, with the Eagles completing only 2-of-12 passes for 12 yards.

Late in the third quarter Eagles defensive lineman Frank "Bucko" Kilroy recovers a fumble at the Cardinals' 17-yard line. On the third play of the fourth quarter, Steve Van Buren crashes outside right tackle and plunges through the snow into the end zone. The touchdown gives the Eagles a 7-0 victory and avenges their defeat to the Cardinals in last year's championship game.

The game will be known as the "Blizzard Bowl."
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December 20
Boxing
1946: Though Sugar Ray Robinson didn't have the title, he was regarded as the "uncrowned" champion for the past several years. Tonight at Madison Square Garden, before a crowd that includes Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney, Robinson is crowned welterweight champion.

With the title recently vacated by Marty Servo, the 5-1 favorite Robinson pounds out a unanimous decision over Tommy Bell. But Robinson has to survive a scare in the second round when Bell knocks him to the canvas with a solid left hook. Robinson dominates the final five rounds, knocking Bell down in the 11th with a sharp right cross as he improves his record to 74-1-1.

Robinson celebrates the coronation on opening night at his Harlem pub.

Pro Football
1969: The AFL semifinal playoff game between the Eastern Division champion Jets and the Chiefs, runners-up in the West, is played in frigid conditions at Shea Stadium in New York. The game is decided when the Jets can't score a touchdown after getting a first down at the Kansas City one-yard line in the fourth quarter and the Chiefs need only two plays to go 80 yards for the winning touchdown.

Jets quarterback Joe Namath, the star of last season's Super Bowl, completes only 14-of-40 passes for 164 yards with three interceptions throwing into the swirling winds. With the ball on the Chiefs' one after a pass interference penalty, two runs are stopped and a Namath incompletion forces the Jets to settle for a seven-yard field goal by Jim Turner that ties the game 6-6.

On the first play after the kickoff, Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson completes a 61-yard pass to Otis Taylor. On the next play, he throws a 19-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Gloucester Richardson to give the Chiefs a 13-6 victory en route to a Super Bowl title.

After the game, New York Mayor John Lindsay tells Namath, "Don't be dejected. I know what it is to lose."
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December 21
Pro Football
1975: In the final regular-season game of his 26-year professional football career, 48-year-old George Blanda becomes the first player to reach 2,000 points. He kicks four extra points in the Oakland Raiders' 28-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, lifting his scoring total to 2,002 points, a still-standing record.

Blanda, who played quarterback as well as kicked in his earlier days, scored nine touchdowns, kicked 335 field goals and made 943 extra points. He played for the Chicago Bears in 1949 and 1950-58, the Baltimore Colts in 1950, the Houston Oilers from 1960-66 and the Raiders since 1967. He led the Oilers to AFL championships in the first two years of the league's existence (1960 and 1961) and also was a member of the Raiders' AFL title team in 1967.

1958:The previous week, in the regular-season finale, the New York Giants defeated the Cleveland Browns, 13-10, when Pat Summerall kicked a 49-yard field goal in the final minute. The victory enabled the Giants to tie the Browns for the Eastern Conference at 9-3, forcing today's playoff game at Yankee Stadium.

Cleveland's Jim Brown, who led the league with a then-record 1,527 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns (17 on the ground), has his most disappointing game as a pro. Hitting the second-year fullback hard and often, the Giants' defense limits him to a mere eight yards on seven carries. The Giants score the game's only touchdown on a trick play in the first quarter. From Cleveland's 18-yard line, it's a double reverse, from quarterback Charlie Conerly to fullback Alex Webster to halfback Frank Gifford. When Gifford reaches the 10, he laterals to a trailing Conerly, who scores. Summerall boots a field goal in the second quarter and the Giants, with their 10-0 victory, advance to the NFL championship game against the Baltimore Colts.
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December 22
Horse Racing
1981: The horse had just about everything going against him. He had second-class breeding and third-class conformation. Straight in the knees and almost back at the joint, the attending veterinarian of the new foal predicted he had a better chance of breaking down than he ever did of racing. A small thoroughbred, he was castrated at an early age because of his mean disposition in the barn.

Today, that horse -- John Henry -- is named Horse of the Year. Known as the people's champ, the six-year-old gelding won the first million-dollar thoroughbred race, the Arlington Million, as well as the Jockey Gold Cup and the Oak Tree Invitational this year.

He'll retire in the fall of 1984 with 39 wins, 15 seconds and nine thirds in 83 career starts. He will be a grass specialist, finishing in the money in 45 of 50 races on grass. The first to win $3 million, $4 million, $5 million and then $6 million, he will earn $6,597,947.

Pro Basketball
1971: The Los Angeles Lakers, behind future Hall of Famers Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Gail Goodrich, set a major-league professional sports record for consecutive victories with their 27th straight, a 127-120 win over the Bullets in Baltimore.

They had shared the record at 26 with the New York Giants, who had set the mark during the 1916 baseball season.

"I don't want to take anything away from baseball, but I think it's harder to win this many in basketball," says Lakers coach Bill Sharman. "We have tougher travel conditions and we have to fight the home-court advantage, which doesn't mean as much as in baseball."

The Lakers don't celebrate much after setting the record. "We don't want to sound blase," Chamberlain says, "but we did our celebrating when we won No. 21. That was the big one." The 21st victory broke the NBA record.

The Lakers will extend their record streak to 33 before losing to the Milwaukee Bucks.
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December 23
Pro Football
1972: When Oakland's Ken Stabler snakes down the sideline with 73 seconds left to give the Raiders a 7-6 lead, it almost looks as if the Pittsburgh Steelers need a miracle to pull out the AFC semifinal playoff game.

With seconds to go, they get it. They are on their own 40 when quarterback Terry Bradshaw fires downfield to a secondary receiver, halfback Frenchy Fuqua. Raiders safety Jack Tatum clobbers Fuqua, and the ball bounces seven yards back, where running back Franco Harris just happens to be. The big rookie catches the deflection and races 42 yards into the end zone with five seconds left to provide the Steelers with a 13-7 miracle victory.

Tatum argues that he didn't touch the ball, that the ball bounced off Fuqua and that the play is illegal. (At the time the rule is that no two receivers can touch the ball consecutively on the same play.) Raiders coach John Madden, though, indicates that from his view the ball had touched Tatum.

The play will forever be known as "The Immaculate Reception."
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December 24
Pro Football
1950: The Cleveland Browns had won all four championships in the All-American Football Conference, but the chances of winning the title in their first year in the NFL appear dim as they trail the Los Angeles Rams by eight points going into the fourth quarter in their championship game.

They close the gap to 28-27 when Otto Graham throws his fourth touchdown pass of the game. With 1:48 left, a punt gives the Browns the ball on their own 32-yard line. Graham, who completes 22-of-32 passes for 298 yards, calmly and methodically moves the Browns downfield. He accounts for all 58 yards -- by passing or running -- as the Browns reach the Rams' 10-yard line, with his quarterback sneak moving the ball into the middle of the field.

In the second quarter, holder Tom James had been unable to handle a low snap from center after Cleveland's second touchdown, costing the Browns a conversion try and an important point. This time there's no problem and Lou "The Toe" Groza kicks a 16-yard field goal with 20 seconds left to give the Browns a 30-28 victory and the NFL championship.
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December 25
Pro Football
1971: The longest game in pro football history comes down to a left-footed Cypriot being more accurate than a right-footed Norwegian. It's not a very merry Christmas for Kansas City's Jan Stenerud, who yesterday was selected over Miami's Garo Yepremian as the AFC's placekicker for the Pro Bowl.

With the AFC semifinal playoff game tied 24-24, Stenerud is wide right on a 31-yard field-goal try with 31 seconds left in the fourth quarter and has his 42-yard field-goal attempt blocked in the first overtime period.

In the second period of overtime, a 29-yard run by fullback Larry Csonka moves the Dolphins into Chiefs' territory. "I was just hoping I'd get a chance," Yepremian says later.

The 5-foot-7 Yepremian, who was the NFL's leading scorer with 117 points, doesn't blow it, either. A tiemaker in the offseason, he breaks the game's tie with a 37-yard field goal. His boot gives the Dolphins a 27-24 victory, a game that takes 82 minutes and 40 seconds to complete.
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December 26
Boxing
1908: Challenger Jack Johnson receives $5,000 to fight heavyweight champion Tommy Burns, who is getting the extraordinary guarantee of $30,000 for their bout in Australia. But Johnson is a big winner in the ring, becoming the first African-American to gain the heavyweight championship.

Johnson weighs 192 pounds -- 24 pounds more than the Canadian. The Texan is also about seven inches taller. The fight, scheduled for 20 rounds, takes place the morning after Christmas in Rushcutter's Bay, a suburb of Sydney.

With his brute strength, the 30-year-old Johnson dominates from the start. The end comes in the 14th round, when police intervene and halt the one-sided fight. The referee declares Johnson the winner. While Johnson appears fresh, Burns' eyes are badly puffed and his mouth is swollen to twice its normal size.

"Johnson was too big and his reach was too great," says Burns.

Pro Football
1943: A week before he's scheduled to enter the Maritime Service, Sid Luckman practically single-handedly sinks the Washington Redskins in the NFL championship game. On offense he becomes the first to throw five touchdown passes in a playoff game and on defense he intercepts two passes as he leads the Bears to a 41-21 victory at Wrigley Field.

Leading 14-7 at halftime, Luckman, smartly running the Bears' T-formation, is at his best in the second half when he throws four touchdown passes.

He also is involved in the play which sends Redskins star Sammy Baugh to the sidelines in the first quarter. While tackling Luckman, who is returning his punt, Baugh is knocked unconscious by a blow from Luckman's knee.

Baugh returns for the second half and leads the Redskins to two touchdowns, but he can't prevent the Bears from winning their third title in four years and fifth in 12.
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December 27
Pro Football
1987: Jerry Rice concludes his remarkable season with another outstanding performance. The 49ers wide receiver catches two touchdown passes from quarterback Steve Young in a 48-0 rout of the Los Angeles Rams that clinches the NFC West title for San Francisco.

Rice extends his NFL record of touchdown receptions to 13 consecutive games, counting back to the final game of the 1986 regular season. He also finishes with 22 touchdown catches, another record, and 23 touchdowns overall. And Rice accomplishes all this in just 12 games because of a 24-day players' strike during the season.
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December 28
Pro Football
1958: The Baltimore Colts' 23-17 overtime victory over the New York Giants for the NFL championship is often called "the greatest game ever played." Here's why:

It appears the Colts are about to turn the game at Yankee Stadium into a rout in the third quarter. Leading 14-3, they have a first down on the Giants' one-yard line. But a dramatic goal-line stand turns around the game.

The fired-up Giants respond with a 95-yard drive, with the key play being Charlie Conerly's pass to Kyle Rote, who after a 62-yard gain fumbles at the Colts' 25, where Alex Webster picks up the ball and runs to the one. Mel Triplett scores on the next play.

In the fourth quarter, the underdog Giants take a 17-14 lead on Conerly's touchdown pass to Frank Gifford, whose fumbles had set up Baltimore's two touchdowns. Late in the quarter, Gifford is tackled a foot short of a first down on third down, forcing the Giants to punt.

The Colts are backed up on their own 14 with 1:56 left when Johnny Unitas goes to work. The confident quarterback hits four passes, the last three to Ray Berry for 62 yards, to set up Steve Myhra's 20-yard field goal with seven seconds left.

In the first overtime game, the Colts force another punt when Conerly is tackled inches short of a first down. Unitas masterfully moves Baltimore 80 yards, with fullback Alan "The Horse" Ameche bulling over from the one to end "the greatest game ever played."
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December 29
College Football
1978: Woody Hayes, Ohio State's fiery football coach, makes the worst mistake of his legendary career: He slugs an opposing player.

With Ohio State losing by two points in the Gator Bowl, Clemson's Charlie Bauman intercepts a pass and is knocked out of bounds on the Buckeyes' sideline with just under two minutes left. The 65-year-old Hayes goes over and throws a punch at Bauman before he is restrained by several of his players.

The day after the 17-15 defeat, Hayes will be fired. He will never coach again. He has a 238-72-10 record in 33 seasons, with a 205-61-10 mark in 28 years at Ohio State, including two national championships.
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December 30
College Basketball
1936: The fastest gun in the West comes East. And Hank Luisetti puts on quite a show before a sold-out Madison Square Garden, leading Stanford to a 44-31 victory over Long Island University, ending the Blackbirds' winning streak at 43.

In an era where players shoot driving layups or two-handed set shots, the 6-foot-2 Luisetti revolutionizes the game with his one-handed off-the-ear running shots. Against powerful LIU, he scores a game-high 15 points in introducing his unorthodox style of play to a wider audience.

"It seemed that Luisetti could do nothing wrong," The New York Times says. "Some of his shots would have been deemed foolhardy if attempted by any other player, but with Luisetti doing the heaving, these were accepted by the crowd as a matter of course."
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December 31
Pro Football
1967: NFL championship game in Green Bay: It's 12 degrees below zero and the wind is blowing at 14 miles per hour. The Dallas Cowboys have a 17-14 lead after halfback Dan Reeves, who had been a quarterback at South Carolina, throws a 50-yard touchdown pass to Lance Rentzel on the first play of the fourth quarter.

With 4:50 left, the Packers take over on their own 32-yard line. Quarterback Bart Starr, whose two touchdown passes to Boyd Dowler in the first half gave Green Bay a 14-0 lead, moves the Packers 67 yards to the one when he takes the team's final timeout with 16 seconds left.

Coach Vince Lombardi rejects a field goal. If the running play doesn't work, it's doubtful the Packers will have time for another play. But they don't need one. Starr, behind blocks by guard Jerry Kramer and center Ken Bowman, gets into the end zone. Barely.

The Packers win 21-17 and become the first team in the 47-year history of the NFL to win three consecutive league championship games. The game forever will be known as "The Ice Bowl."
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