Griffith Stadium - Sammy Baugh led a fourth-quarter come-back win for the Redskins, but the events on the field were far overshadowed by the commotion in the stands and press box due to events half a world away.
Just as the game got underway, word of the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor was beginning to filter through Washington. While the news was not announced over the public address system, the stadium announcer was quite busy, raising suspicions that something was up. Page after page came over the PA system, asking all manner of VIP’s, many with military titles, to call their offices. As the Eagles scored in the first quarter, marching 89 yards in 11 plays to a short touchdown run by Jack Banta, word came to the press box: “The Japanese have kicked off war now!” was the Washington Post’s message to its reporters covering the game. “Keep it short,” the message continued, meaning that little space would be devoted to game recaps in the next day’s edition.
The Eagles held their lead until just 14 seconds remained in the first half. From the Philly 19, Baugh zipped a pass to Al Krueger at the two and the end stepped over the goal line. Joe Aguirre’s extra point tied the game at seven.
By this time, the buzz around the press box was beginning to spread through the stands. Philadelphia scored another touchdown to take a 14-7 lead into the fourth quarter, but the specter of a Redskins defeat did not seem to be nearly the calamity it would have just a few hours earlier.
Washington started on its own eight-yard line and Baugh led the 92-yard drive into the end zone. That march culminated in Baugh’s 19-yard pass to Joe Aguirre. The rookie end leapt high to gather in Baugh’s bullet in the end zone. A chance to tie, though, was missed when Aguirre misfired on the conversion attempt.
It didn’t make any difference as Baugh’s passing and Andy Farkas’ running had the Redskins right back on the Eagles doorstep at the four. Baugh again went to Aguirre, who caught Baugh’s pass over his shoulder in the end zone for the deciding score.
Both teams left the field facing uncertain futures, knowing that, as able-bodied gridiron warriors, a place on the real battlefields in the Pacific and in Europe might well be their next calling.