November 5, 1922: Buffalo All-Americans vs. Chicago Cardinals
Historical Game of the Week
By Ken Crippen
- Professional Football Researchers Association
Published: October 11th, 2008
It’s time to dig deep into the archives and talk about the first time a Buffalo professional football team met the Arizona Cardinals. With a moving company seemingly on speed-dial, the current Cardinal franchise has only been playing in Arizona since 1988 (under the name Phoenix Cardinals). Before that, they were the St. Louis Cardinals from 1960 to 1987. Prior to 1960, the Cardinals played in Chicago. The only exception to this was in 1944, when they combined with the Pittsburgh Steelers. During World War II, NFL rosters were decimated, with most of the available players serving overseas. NFL franchises had trouble fielding teams. The Steelers combined with the Eagles – some calling them the “Steagles” – for the 1943 season. When the Steelers broke off from the Eagles, they joined with the Chicago Cardinals to form what the NFL called Card-Pitt. This team was lovingly referred to as the Carpets (since everyone walked all over them). That experiment only lasted a year before the Steelers were financially solvent enough to be back on their own. In 1947, the Cardinals won their only NFL championship by beating the Philadelphia Eagles 28-21. The Eagles would win the championship the following two years.
Now that we know the chronology of a founding member of the NFL, let’s look at Buffalo. In 1920, Buffalo had a team called the All-Americans. Even thought this team is included in official league standings, there is no record of them officially being a member of the APFA (prior to 1922, the NFL was called the American Professional Football Association). It was not until 1921 before Buffalo became an official franchise. In 1920 and 1921, Buffalo battled for the league championship, only to come in second to the Akron Pros and Chicago Staleys – now called the Chicago Bears – respectively. Financial troubles would plague Buffalo throughout the remainder of the 1920s. Feeling the financial pinch, they were unable to field a team in 1928. They would have a brief return in 1929, but would close up shop for good after the season. In 1940 and 1941, Buffalo had teams in the inconsequential American Football League, but it was not until 1946 before Buffalo would again play major-league professional football. The original Buffalo Bills lasted four years, before the All-America Football Conference would fold and Buffalo would again be without a team. Ten years passed before Ralph Wilson brought his American Football League franchise to Buffalo.
Heading into the 1922 season, Buffalo was a little bitter. They felt that they were robbed of the 1921 league championship and the team was falling apart. Several of their stars were gone due to disputes with management, and only a handful of their core players remained. With a record of 3-1, the Buffalo All-Americans headed into Chicago to take on the 4-0 Cardinals.
The Cardinals took the lead in the first quarter when Arnold Horween – playing under the name A. McMahon – dove across the line for six points. The always reliable Paddy Driscoll missed the extra point. This would be important to remember, as Buffalo started an offensive drive in the second quarter. A twenty-five yard crossing play put the All-Americans in the shadow of Chicago’s goal. Jim Laird got the call and crossed the line to tie the score. Frank Morrissey lined up for the extra point, and the kick sailed through to give Buffalo a 7-6 lead. Later, Horween would drop-kick a 31-yard field goal to give the Cardinals a 9-7 lead, which would remain until the final whistle blew.
Chicago would go on to finish the season 8-3, which was good enough for third place in the NFL. Buffalo, however, ended their campaign 5-4-1 and finished in ninth place.