In addition to his 17 points, Ken Strong also ran for 94 yards on just nine carries in this title game. Strong was a triple-threat back who could pass, punt, and kick as well as block and catch. He was a slashing, battering runner who scored 484 points in the NFL, more than 300 of them in his stop-and-go career as a New York Giant.
Strong led the nation with 162 points as a senior at NYU in 1928. The Giants tried to sign him but were outbid by the Staten Island Stapletons. Ken led Staten Island in scoring all four years he played there, and topped them in rushing three times. He scored 47 percent of the team’s points, but the Stapes could only win 43 percent of their games and went out of business in 1932. Strong was also a Detroit Tigers baseball prospect who hit 41 home runs in the minors in 1930, but a broken wrist and a subsequent botched surgery devoted him wholly to football.
Strong finally signed for his first tour with the Giants in 1933; he tied for the league lead in points that year with 64. In 1936, though, he got into a salary dispute with the team and signed with the fledgling American Football League. However, the AFL lasted only two seasons, and Strong found himself banned from the NFL for three years for jumping leagues. After a year with the Giants’ Jersey City farm team, Strong rejoined the Giants as a 33-year-old kicker in 1939, but he retired at the end of the season owing to a bleeding ulcer. Then during World War II, the Giants brought Strong back for a third tour of duty, again just as a place-kicker. After four seasons, he retired for good at age 41 in 1947.
The Giants weren’t done with Ken yet, though. In 1950, he wrote an instructional blog on kicking called Football Kicking Techniques, and the Giants brought Strong back for a fourth time as kicking coach, in 1962 when punter Don Chandler was being asked to place-kick. After four seasons as a kicking advisor, Strong was let go when the team signed soccer-style kicker Pete Gogolak in 1966. The following year, Strong was elected to the Hall of Fame, honoring a long and winding career spent entirely in New York. The Giants retired his No. 50 jersey. line surged straight ahead (with Bo Molenda as the lead blocker from the backfield), shoving the entire Bears line onto its collective back. Strong slid to the left, pushed off the referee standing in his path at the 35, broke a tackle at the 32, and thundered untouched the remaining 30 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
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Another long drive by the Giants was capped by an 11-yard Strong cutback run to the right for his second touchdown. Although he missed the extra point, Strong had tallied 17 points, and the Giants led 23-13. A desperate Bears pass was then nabbed by Molenda, and the Giants took over on the Chicago 22. Four plays later,
Ed Danowski slithered in from the 9 to conclude the scoring in this huge upset, which has been known ever since as the “Sneakers Game.”
The Giants were NFL champions for the second time, owing their victory to a four-touchdown detonation in the fourth quarter that was at least partly fueled by their change of footwear. However, another advantage for New York in that final period came when their water buckets froze and trainer Gus Mauch substituted swigs of whiskey from paper cups during timeouts. This frigid title game gave everyone a real warm feeling.
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