I: Sept. 17, 1920
II: Nov. 7, 1920
III: Nov. 28, 1920
IV: Oct. 7, 1923
V: Nov. 26, 1925
VI: Dec. 6, 1925
VII: Nov. 6, 1929
VIII: Nov. 28, 1929
IX: Oct. 24, 1933
X: Nov. 28, 1935
XI: Oct. 14, 1945
XII: Apr. 19, 1947
XIII: Dec. 28, 1947
XIV: Dec. 19, 1948
XV: Mar. 23, 1959
XVI: Mar. 13, 1960
XVII: Dec. 6, 1964
XVIII: Nov. 7, 1965
XIX: Nov. 16, 1970
XX: Dec. 27, 1975
XXI: Jan. 8, 1983
XXII: Dec. 16, 1984
XXIII: Nov. 8, 1987
XXIV: Mar. 15, 1988
XXV: Dec. 23, 1990
XXVI: Dec. 24, 1994

October 14, 1945: "The Big-Dead"

- - - - - The 1976-1977 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are listed in most record-books as having the NFL's longest losing streak. After dropping all 14 contests of their inaugural season, the "Yucks" went on to lose the first 12 games of 1977. It was not until their 27th game in team history that the Buccaneers finally tasted victory, a win over the equally pathetic Saints (the Bucs would win their next game as well, a 17-7 embarrassment of the St. Louis Cardinals). However, this streak of 26 losses falls short of the mark set by the Chicago Cardinals franchise between 1942 and 1945. The Cards' stretch of 29 consecutive losses is spared from the Hall of Shame because ten of these defeats occurred during a merger with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and technically do not belong to either franchise.
- - - - - The 1942 NFL season began with promise for the Chicago Cardinals. The previous year's team won only three games, but was showing vast improvement. Also, it was the first time in four seasons that the Cardinals did not finish in last place. On opening day in 1942, they defeated the Cleveland Rams 7-0 in Buffalo, then followed up this victory with another shut-out, a 13-0 beating of Detroit. The Cards would then slip a little, dropping their next two. But, after a victory in the rematch against the Lions, the Cardinals were back in good position: their 3-2 record was only half a game behind second place, and still in striking distance of first. Little did the Cards know that their win at Detroit would be their last victory for almost three years.
- - - - - World War II had been going on for almost one year, and many NFL players left pro-football to join the armed forces. The Cards were hit especially hard, with their top passer, receiver, and lineman all going into the service. The rest of the 1942 season was a disaster. In the remaining six games, the hapless Cardinals failed to score more than seven points five times. The only time that they managed to tally more than one touchdown came during a 55-24 drubbing at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. NFL great Jimmy Conzelman would quit as head coach at the season's end but would return in 1946.
- - - - - The 1943 campaign would see much of the same. Long-time assistant and former Cardinals player Phil Handler was named head coach, but again, there was little with which to work. The team's leading passer and receiver again went into military service and the team was left with little talent. The only bright spot on the team was Eddie Rucinski who went on to be named all-pro. In the end, though, Rucinski and his teammates failed to win a game in ten tries, and the Big-Red truly became the "Big-Dead."
- - - - - The situation in 1944 was even more desperate, prompting the Cardinals and the equally depleted Pittsburgh Steelers to arrange a merger. The combined squad split its home games between Chicago's Comiskey Park and Pittsburgh's Forbes Field and was led by the duo of the Cards' Handler and the Steelers' Walt Kiesling (a former star on the Cardinals). The combine was officially called "Card-Pitt," but soon, their sad play led opponents to nickname them the "Carpets," since everyone walked all over them. The team almost pulled out a victory on opening day, but a late touchdown allowed the Rams to escape with a 30-28 victory. This was the closest the team would come to winning a game all season long, finishing with a record of 0-10.
- - - - - The Cardinals-Steelers union was mercifully dissolved in 1945. As WWII ended, Joe Kuharich and Bill Dewell returned from the service. Improvement was also made elsewhere, as Bidwill and Bennigsen brought in a quarterback, "Pitchin' Paul" Christman, from the University of Missouri. Also, the team changed its offense to the T-formation. However, success did not come quickly or easily, and the team scored only a combined six points in their first three games, all losses.
- - - - - Finally, on October 14, 1945, four days shy of the three-year anniversary of their last win, the Cardinals tasted victory once again. The triumph came against the Cards' bitterest foe, the cross-town Bears. The game, though, initially appeared as though it would be another blow-out in the Bears' favor: Sid Luckman connected with Ken Kavanaugh on a 64-yard touchdown pass on the second play. But, the Cardinals' defense would hold the rest of the way, not giving up another point. Meanwhile, the offense would unleash a running attack that put up two touchdowns. The victory was sealed late in the fourth period when a Bear pass was deflected by their own goal-post for an automatic safety. Thus, the Cardinals' 29-game winless stretch had ended with the 16-7 victory. It would be their only win of the season and the Cards would finish last again, but better times were coming and the days of winning were to be back once more.

NEXT : April 19, 1947 - Charles Bidwill, Sr., owner of the Chicago Cardinals, dies shortly after putting together the final pieces of one of the greatest backfields the NFL has seen, the "Million-Dollar Backfield." However, his dream of winning an NFL Championship would not come soon enough, as Mr. Bidwill is not around to see his team's greatest glory.

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