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Bears Come Back to Tie Vikings at Wrigley

Dec. 1, 1963 - Bill Wade’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Joe Marconi after the inspired Minnesota Vikings had fumbled away an apparent victory enabled the Chicago Bears to gain a 17-17 tie today before 47,249 at Wrigley Field and remain atop the Western Division in the NFL. It was the second successive 17-17 deadlock for the Bears, who last Sunday tied the Pittsburgh Steelers. Chicago, nearly an upset victim of the substitute quarterbacking of Ron Vander Kelen, now holds the division lead with a 9-1-2 record, a half game ahead of Green Bay, whose record is 9-2-1. Vander Kelen entered the game with only two minutes gone when the Viking star, Fran Tarkenton, was injured. Vander Kelen directed the Vikings brilliantly and threw his first pro touchdown pass to give Minnesota a 17-3 lead in the second quarter. “I was plenty scared, but I knew this was my chance,” Vander Kelen said afterward. Tarkenton did not re-enter the game until the Bears had made the score 17-17 midway in the fourth period. He later said he didn’t remember a thing from the time he was injured on the Vikings’ second play from scrimmage until he “came to” on the bench midway through the second quarter. “I can’t tell you how I got hurt, because my mind is a blank,” said the scrappy scrambler. “I can’t even remember the beginning of the play. All I know is that I woke up on the bench, and they told me I’d been saying some goofy things.” The Bears got the big break of the game when Tommy Mason, the Vikings’ best ball carrier, fumbled and Roosevelt Taylor recovered for Chicago on the Viking 31. Two plays later, Wade found Marconi wide open in the end zone. Bob Jenck’s conversion tied the score. In the Minnesota locker room, head coach Norm Van Brocklin wore the look of a defeated coach. “You know what they say,” he said, barely managing a smile. “A tie is like kissing your sister.” “We wanted this one badly,” he continued. “But we just couldn’t do anything in the second half. The Bears got charged up, and we couldn’t cope with them. We stuck to our battle plan pretty well. We tried some double wing passing, and we tried to give maximum protection to our quarterback by keeping either two backs or a back and a tight end back to block on pass plays. It worked, but not well enough.”

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