NFL – Throwback Thursday: A Bump In The Road

05 Nov

We’re on to week 9 of the 2020 NFL schedule, and one of the premier matchups this week pits the Green Bay Packers against the San Francisco 49ers. For Throwback Thursday this week, we look back at a contest between these 2 clubs that was played on December 10, 1961. It was the penultimate regular season game, played between a pair of Western Division rivals who were having excellent seasons. The Packers had throttled the Niners 30-10 at home earlier in the year, and this time traveled to the West Coast for a rematch at San Francisco’s Kezar Stadium. Green Bay, beaten in the NFL title game a year earlier by the Philadelphia Eagles, was coasting along to another Western crown, entering this game at 10-2. The 49ers were a respectable 6-5-1, and eager for  another shot at Vince Lombardi’s team.

After a scoreless first quarter, 49er quarterback John Brodie took charge and guided his forces on a pair of touchdown drives, hitting Bernie Casey on a 51 yard score and finding R.C. Owens with a patented “Alley Oop” toss from 10 yards out to open up a 14-0 lead. Lombardi then went to his bag of tricks to cut the lead in half. The halfback option pass, a staple of trick plays for basically all NFL teams at the time, was employed by the Packers with success using Paul Hornung regularly. This time, however, Lombardi doubled down on the trickery, as backup RB Tom Moore used the tactic to find Max McGee for a 22 yard score. Charlie Krueger, San Francisco’s old warhorse defensive tackle, trapped Packer signal caller Bart Starr for a safety, then McGee scored again, this time on a conventional pass from 12 yards from Starr. In the final stanza, 49er placekicker Tommy Davis hit on a 40 yard field goal to boost his team’s lead to 19-14. The ever-resilient Packers fought back and took the lead at 21-19 when fullback Jim Taylor, finishing a hard fought day at the office that saw him rush 22 times for 122 yards, burst through the San Francisco defense and scampered 40 yards for a touchdown.

Brodie and the 49er offense didn’t flinch, however. His receivers, Casey and Owens, blistered Green Bay’s vaunted defense for over 100 yards receiving each on the day. As the game clock wound down, they drove downfield and with only 11 seconds left, Davis won the game with a play that is now impossible to accomplish in the NFL these days. He made good on a 14 yard field goal attempt to seal the upset win. At the time the goalposts were still located right on the goal line, as opposed to at the end line where they are today, making a 14 yard attempt impossible. The loss was just a slight bump in the road for Green Bay. They righted the ship the following week by beating the Los Angeles Rams to close out the regular season, then trounced the New York Giants 37-0 in the NFL Championship to give Lombardi the first of his 5 titles in the following 7 years.


Packers huddle up at Kezar against the 49ers


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