Pivotal Pro Football Moments
pivotal NFL postseason moment: A decision by a coach or an action by a player that changes the momentum of a playoff game.
Ailing Waterfield Sickens Bears
1950 National Conference playoff: Chicago Bears @ Los Angeles Rams
"The best all-around football player I ever saw was Bob Waterfield. He was a quarter­back and defensive back. He used to cover the great Don Hutson man-for-man! He also kicked off, did our placekicking, was a good runner and a fine short and long passer. He just did it all." Those were the words of WR Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch about his fellow Hall of Famer.
Except for one year (1945) when he led the Cleveland Rams to the NFL Championship, Bob spent his college and pro careers in California with UCLA and then the Los Angeles Rams. Adding to his glitzy Hollywood image was the fact that he was married to glamorous actress Jane Russell.
One of the finest performances, and certainly the guttiest, of his glittering career came in the 1950 National Conference playoff against the Chicago Bears in the Los Angeles Coli­seum.

L-R: Bob Waterfield and Jane Russell, Elroy Hirsch, Norm Van Brocklin, Clark Shaughnessy
The Rams had lost both meetings with the Bears during the regular season: 24-20 at home and 24-14 at Chicago. But the two teams finished with identical 9-3 records, necessi­tating a playoff. Fortunately for the Rams, they won the coin flip to host the game in balmy California rather than traveling to frigid Chicago. That outcome was also financially advanta­geous for the league, as the Los Angeles Coliseum could hold 85,000 whereas Wrigley Field could accommodate only 39,000.
Despite the Bears winning both previous meetings, the betting houses made the Rams a seven-point favorite. Bear Coach George Halas, a master of gamesmanship, insisted LA was at least three touchdowns better than his club.
Rams coach Clark Shaughnessy had alternated Waterfield with Norm Van Brocklin all season. Van had the stronger arm, but Bob was more accurate on short-to-medium passes. However, Waterfield came down with intestinal flu a few days before the playoff game and was unable to practice. He ran a temperature of 103 at game time and was so weak, he needed help putting on his uniform. No one would have guessed that he would have a hand in every point the Rams scored.
Van Brocklin started but was hit hard while throwing a pass early in the first quarter. The second-year pro from Oregon didn't complete a pass until his ninth try. But the com­pletion gained only 9y and was short of a first down. So Waterfield kicked a 43y field goal that hit the cross bar but went over to give the Rams a 3-0 lead.
The Bears answered with a march that culminated in a touchdown on the second play of the second quarter. It started when Ed Cody intercepted a Waterfield pass and returned it 28y to his 34. A pass interference penalty kept the drive alive, and Al Campana shot through left guard for the final 23y. 7-3 Bears

L-R: Game program, Tom Fears, Glenn Davis
When the Rams received the kickoff, Waterfield walked onto the field without telling coach Joe Stydahar. Before the half was over, Bob threw two touchdown passes to LE Tom Fears. Fears was not the fastest receiver but was sure handed. In Shaughnessy's offense, speedsters Glenn Davis out of the backfield and Hirsch from his right end posi­tion would clear out defenders by going deep or wide. That opened up the middle for Fears, who led the Rams in receptions with 84, twice as many as Davis and Hirsch, and in yards.
Later in the period, the Waterfield-Fears combination struck again. Feeling stronger as the game progressed, Bob hit Tom for a 68y pass-run touchdown. Bob's kick made it 17-7 Rams.
But the two former Bruins weren't through. Their third touchdown was the most exciting one. From the Chicago 22, Waterfield hit Tom in the flat. He sidestepped T George Con­nor, who had him pinned against the sideline. Then he faked out DBB Charley Hunsinger. LB Fred Negus nearly decapitated Tom with a necktie tackle, but the receiver kept going. DB Johnny Hoffman then took a shot at Fears, but the Ram tore loose and crossed the goal line to make it 24-7.
The Bears got a touchdown in the final quarter to make the final score 24-14.
The Rams, who were astounded by Waterfield's performance, gained only 74y rushing on 32 attempts but gouged the Bear defense for 297y through the air. "We made 23 first downs to their 11," barked an unhappy Halas.