NFL – Throwback Thursday: The Battle of New York

07 Nov

The National Football League’s two New York franchises will do battle this weekend on the league’s schedule, and we’ll highlight the first ever meeting between the 2 teams for this week’s Throwback Thursday feature. It was an innocuous game played at Shea Stadium on November 1st, 1970. There was nothing extraordinary about the game, except for one large detail – it was the first ever game played between the two New York franchises in history. 1970 was the first year of the merger of the NFL and AFL, and the climate between the 2 leagues, which now were together as one, wasn’t exactly a climate of togetherness. The old guard NFL still felt that they were superior, but evidence pointed to the contrary. The AFL had won the 2 previous Super Bowls by upsetting heavily favored NFL teams. The Jets, behind a brash guarantee from Joe Namath, had stunned the football world by upsetting the Baltimore Colts following the 1968 season, and to prove that game was no fluke the Kansas City Chiefs, who had been soundly defeated in the first Super Bowl by Green Bay, followed up with a surprisingly easy win over the Minnesota Vikings in ’69. So this was much more than just any old regular season game. Pride was on the line for the NFL and AFL people, who still harbored some bitterness toward each other. The Jets, only 2 years removed from their shocking title, were at a big disadvantage on this day. Their star quarterback and undisputed leader, Namath, was sidelined for the season with a broken wrist and the signal calling duties went to journeyman backup Al Woodall. The Giants, on the other hand, had future Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton at the helm.

The Jets, who had won only one game going into this matchup, were still a proud club. They battled through a scoreless first quarter and broke the ice in the second stanza when Woodall hit running back George Nock for an 8 yard touchdown to give his club a 7-0 lead. Pete Gogolak added a field goal to cut the lead to 7-3 at halftime but the Giants took control in the third quarter. The Jets added a Jim Turner field goal to up their lead to 10-3 but the G-men would do all the scoring from that point on. The Big Blue defense entered the fray when they tackled a former teammate, fullback Chuck Mercein, for a safety to cut the lead to 10-5. Then Tarkenton took over, finding Bob Tucker and Clifton McNeil on short scoring throws to open a 19-10 lead. Gogolak put the finishing touches on with another field goal, the only scoring in the fourth quarter, and the Giants won by a final count of 22-10 to restore a small slice of old guard pride to the NFL and claim Big Apple bragging rights for the time being over the team that had embarrassed the league just a couple of seasons earlier.



Giants’ Fran Tarkenton surveys the Jet defense


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