West 19

East 10

 

January 13, 1957

 

By Dave Lewis
Sports Editor
Long Beach Independent

LOS ANGELES COLISEUM- When two tremendous defensive platoons refused to budge often enough here Sunday, the seventh annual Pro Bowl classic developed into a field goal kicking contest between the West's Bert Rechichar and the East's Sam Baker.......and although Baker tied for honors in the "boot for distance" event, Rechichar clicked off three pointers with the accuracy and rapidity of an adding machine to lead the Western All-Stars to a 19-10 victory before 44,177 fans.

Rechichar, the Baltimore Colts' kicking specialist, booted four field coals of 41, 44, 44 and 52 yards, while Baker booted one from 52 yards out to temporarily knot the count at 10-10 early in the third period before Rechichar turned the tide of battle with one of the greatest placekicking exhibitions in the history of football.

The 52-yard kicks by Rechichar and Baker equal the Coliseum record for placements set by Cleveland's Lou (The Toe) Groza in the 1951 NFL playoff between the Browns and Los Angeles Rams.

For his superb kicking, Rechichar was voted the outstanding player of the contest despite the fact he was in action on only 10 plays- five field goal attempts, one of which was blocked, and on the West's five kickoffs.

The brilliant kicking exhibition by Rechichar and Baker began after the two all-star clubs traded the only two touchdowns of the game in the first 18 minutes of play.

Rechichar sent the West into a 10-7 lead with a 41-yard boot on the last play of the first half; Baker knotted the count at 10-10 at 3:16 of the third period, before Rechichar sent the West out in front again six minutes later with a 44-yarder and then added another 44-yard placement and his 52-yarder at 7:15 and 9:56 of the fourth quarter.

It was obvious from the outset that the game would have to be won "in the air" when it was soon noticeable that the two mighty lines would battle each other to a virtual standstill on the "slow turf"... and it was, too, via Rechichar's booming kicks coupled with the sensational pass defense of the West team.
 

The Eastern attack sputtered and then collapsed when the West's defensive backfield headed by the Detroit Lions' three great "deep backs"- Jack Christiansen, Yale Lary and Jim David along with their linebacking teammate, Joe Schmidt- intercepted six passes.

Perhaps the most important "save" in the West's secondary all afternoon, though, was produced by the Rams' Les Richter, who broke up a serious first-period Eastern threat by intercepting Charley Conerly's aerial on the four-yard line.

Meanwhile, two brilliant defensive plays by Ernie (The Horse) Stautner, the Pitt Steelers' aggressive 235-pound tackle, who was voted the game's outstanding lineman, kept the East in position to pull the game out of the fire until Rechichar's 52-yard kick with only five minutes left to go that gave the West a commanding nine-point bulge.

On the final play of the of the first quarter, Stautner broke through to block Rechichar's field goal attempt on the West 47.... and later in the second quarter when the West was poised on the East one-yard line following an interception, "The Horse" came up with another spectacular "save" when he knifed through to nail Bobby Lane attempting to hand off to Rick Casares and producing a fumble that was recovered by Cleveland's Mike McCormack for the East on the 11-yard line.

Meanwhile, Ollie Matson of the the Chicago Cardinals, voted the outstanding player in last year's game when he led the East to a thrilling 31-30 triumph, had a rough afternoon on the slow footing that kept the "breakaway runners from slashing into the open on plays to the outside. They had difficulty cutting on the field softened somewhat by recent rains.

Ollie netted only eight yards from scrimmage on eight carries and fumbled twice, his first bobble setting the stage for the West's lone touchdown, and his second being recovered by a teammate to keep the East's only TD drive going. His top efforts of the day were two kickoff returns of 33 and 42 yards.

The game was played under excellent conditions in view of the pre-game forecast, the action unfolding under partly cloudy skies and in mild 60-degree weather. The turf was slow, but fairly firm in most sections, having been protected in part from the rains by a tarpaulin.

The West broke the scoring ice after 6:14 of action when Schmidt recovered a Matson fumble on the East 12-yard line.

Casares took it to the one with a seven-yard sweep around left end and a four-yard plunge up the middle to set up quarterback Ed Brown's one-yard sneak for the TD. Bobby Layne booted the conversion.

Richter's interception of Conerly's pass on the West four moments later broke up the East's lone threat of the first period.

Stautner set the stage for the East's lone touchdown surge when he blocked Rechichar's field goal attempt.

The East took over on the West 40 and went all the way despite almost losing the ball twice on fumbles. Key play in the drive was a "basketball" maneuver that gained 14 yards to the West 13. Matson, trapped on a drive out to the left, circled back to his right and threaded his way for 10 yards before fumbling, but center Jack Simmons of the Cardinals recovered in mid-air and went four more yards to the 13 before being hauled down.

A few plays later, Frank Gifford drove four yards to the goal line where he fumbled and his New York Giant teammate, Kyle Rote, had to dive on the ball in the end zone to salvage the touchdown, which came at 3:06 of the second quarter. Baker's conversion evened the count at 7.

The East moved into scoring position again midway through the stanza when Roosevelt Grier of the Giants recovered Leny Moore's fumble on the West 27. But Detroit's Christiansen staved off the East gain with another interception. Moments later Al Dorow's pass was batted into the air by David and intercepted on the 23 by Schmidt, who roared to the East one-yard line before being shoved out of bounds.

Stautner then broke through to force Layne into fumbling and the East recovered the ball on the 11.

There was only one second remaining in the half when Rechichar toed the ball through the uprights from the 41 for his first field goal and the West left the field at halftime with a 10-7 lead.

Baker and Rechichar traded field goals in the first nine minutes of the third period as the West maintained a 13-10 bulge before the Westerners almost broke the game wide open with the most spectacular play of the day ... a 73-yard forward lateral aerial strike that carried to East seven yard line.

The West was attacking from its own 14 when Tobin Rote of the Green Bay Packers suddenly spotted Harlon Hill of the Bears breaking into the open at midfield.

It would have been a sure touchdown if Rote had had enough time to get set before passing, but he had to throw hurriedly in the face of a fast rush and Hill had to slow up to catch the ball, thus enabling the East defensive backs to overtake him.

When Hill finally was caught on the 50, he lateraled to Billy Howton of Green Bay who streaked 43 more yards before being dragged down from behind by Dick (Night Train) Lane.

The East defense stifled the Western attack at that point and held for downs on the two yard line.

Rechichar's two fourth-period field goals gave the West a "safe" lead going into the final two minutes when the East mounted another threat as Lane picked off Brown's pass on the West 31-yard line, from where the Easterners drove to the 10 before the Bears' Bill George squelched the scoring bid by intercepting Bobby Thomason's aerial on the goal line as time ran out.

 

Chicago QB Ed Brown sneaks over from the one for a West touchdown.

 

Frank Gifford carries for the East with Kyle Rote carrying (inset).

 

1956 1958

 

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