1948 NFL Season
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1948 NFL Season

1948 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 17 - December 19, 1948
East ChampionsPhiladelphia Eagles
West ChampionsChicago Cardinals
Championship Game
ChampionsPhiladelphia Eagles

The 1948 NFL season was the 29th regular season of the National Football League. During the season, Halfback Fred Gehrke painted horns on the Los Angeles Rams' helmets, making the first modern helmet emblem in pro football.[1] The last regular season game played on Wednesday until the 2012 season happened on September 22, 1948, between Detroit and Los Angeles. The season ended when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Chicago Cardinals in the NFL Championship Game.

The 1948 season featured the highest per-game, per-team scoring in NFL history, with the average team scoring 23.2 points per game.[2] This record stood for 65 years until 2013.[3]


The 1948 NFL Draft was held on December 19, 1947 at Pittsburgh's Fort Pitt Hotel. With the first pick, the Washington Redskins selected halfback Harry Gilmer from the University of Alabama.

Major rule changes

  • Plastic helmets are prohibited. This rule was enacted because critics argued that they were being used more as a weapon than protection.[1]
  • A flexible artificial tee is permitted at the kickoff.[1]
  • When the intended passer is tackled behind the line of scrimmage, the game clock will stop temporarily until any receivers who have gone down field have had a reasonable time to return.[]
  • When the offense is called for delay of game, the defense may decline the 5-yard distance penalty.[]
  • If a foul occurs behind the line during a backwards pass or fumble, the penalty is enforced from the spot of the pass or fumble.[]
  • It is illegal to bat or punch the ball while it is in a player's possession.[]
  • All officials are equipped with whistles, not horns.[1]

Division races

In the Eastern race, the Eagles beat Washington 45-0 in Week Five to take a 1/2 game lead. When the 6-1-1 Eagles met the 6-2 Skins again in Week Ten, Washington lost a must-win game, 42-21.

The other race was all Chicago, as the Cardinals and Bears both had records of 10-1 going into the final week. A record crowd of 51,283 packed Wrigley Field on December 12 to watch. The Bears took a 21-10 lead, on George Gulyanics's touchdown as the fourth quarter began.[4]Charley Trippi's touchdown cut the margin to 21-17, but the Bears had the ball and time on their side. The turning point came when the Cards' Vince Banonis picked off a pass from Johnny Lujack, and ran the ball back to the Bears' 19, and Elmer Angsman scored the winning touchdown three plays later for the Western Division title and the trip to the championship.[5]

Final standings

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT= Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against

Note: The NFL did not officially count tie games in the standings until 1972

Eastern Division
Philadelphia Eagles 9 2 1 .818 376 156
Washington Redskins 7 5 0 .583 291 287
New York Giants 4 8 0 .333 297 388
Pittsburgh Steelers 4 8 0 .333 200 243
Boston Yanks 3 9 0 .250 174 372
Western Division
Chicago Cardinals 11 1 0 .917 395 226
Chicago Bears 10 2 0 .833 375 151
Los Angeles Rams 6 5 1 .545 327 269
Green Bay Packers 3 9 0 .250 154 290
Detroit Lions 2 10 0 .167 200 407

NFL Championship Game

Philadelphia Eagles 7, Chicago Cardinals 0 in a blizzard at Shibe Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 19, 1948

League leaders

Statistic Name Team Yards
Passing Sammy Baugh Washington 2599
Rushing Steve Van Buren Philadelphia 945
Receiving Mal Kutner Chicago Cardinals 943


Coaching changes


  1. ^ a b c d "History (1941-1950)". NFL.com. National Football League. Archived from the original on February 3, 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  2. ^ Byrne, Kerry (July 18, 2010). "The Spirit of '48: a mind-blowing statistical orgasm". Cold Hard Football Facts (website). Archived from the original on March 28, 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  3. ^ "Record Breaking 2013 Season Had It All" (PDF). NFL. December 30, 2013. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 3, 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  4. ^ "Chicago Cardinals at Chicago Bears - December 12th, 1948 | Pro-Football-Reference.com". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2017.
  5. ^ "Cardinals' About Face Beats Bears, 24-21," Wisconsin State Journal (Madison), Dec 13, 1948, p13

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