Watching this brought warm memories of my dad because watching the Bears together was our thing and he liked to talk about this team from time to time.
1963 Chicago Bears Season and Championship Game Highlights, narrated by Jack Brickhouse
So many big names from Bears history in the video — but instead of imagining what they looked like on the field making big plays, and trying to picture it in your head, you can watch them actually doing it.
Willie Galimore, Rick Casares, Billy Wade, Ronnie Bull, Mike Ditka, Johnny Morris, and Joe Marconi on offense, among others. Examining the 1963 NFL team stats shows that the offense was solidly middle of the pack in both rushing and passing and played a conservative ball control style with the fewest turnovers in the league, by a large margin (25, compared to 30 for the next best 49ers) with just 14 interceptions.
Wade, Marconi, and Ditka made the Pro Bowl that year, and after watching the video, you’ll know exactly why. Wade was athletic with quick feet and an accurate arm, and consistently among the league leaders in various passing numbers in that era, Marconi an absolute bruiser at fullback, and Ditka was Wade’s favorite target, dominant from his debut in 1961 when he was Rookie of the Year and then making All Pro from 1962-66.
And some of those blocks Ditka makes … whoa nellie! That guy was a football player.
On defense, Doug Atkins, Bill George, Joe Fortunato, Larry Morris, Richie Petitbon, Bennie McRae, Dave Whitsell, J. C. Caroline, Rosey Taylor, Ed O’Bradovich, among others.
The defense used pressure to shut down the opponent’s offense and force turnovers.
In 14 games the defense:
- Allowed just 144 points, by far the fewest in the league, just over 10 per game
- Allowed 7 points or fewer 8 times and 20 or more just twice
- Forced 54 turnovers, an average of nearly 4 per game, with at least 5 turnovers 6 times
- Led the league with 39 interceptions — and the 4 starters in the secondary had 29 by themselves
- 36 sacks, 12 by Atkins
- Put 4 guys on first team All Pro — both starting safeties (Petitbon and Taylor) one DL (Atkins) and one LB (Fortunato)
29 is a lot of picks among just 4 players, and I have to wonder how many times in NFL history a group of any four starters have reached that number.
Here’s the pro-football-reference.com summary of their season with stats.
Some things I learned from looking at team and individual stats: Wade was an excellent quarterback who was consistently among the league leaders in various passing numbers in the early 60s, Ditka was an immediate factor, dominant from his debut in 1961 when he was Rookie of the Year and then making All Pro from 62-66 (this is every season with the team). George Halas was Coach of the Year, and George Allen was a defensive assistant and then defensive coordinator the next two years before moving on to the Rams and later the Redskins as head coach.
Links of season leaders for the 1961-65 era: