NFL – Throwback Thursday: The Packer Dynasty Begins

28 Nov

This week’s Throwback Thursday feature was easy to identify when a matchup of the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants appeared on the NFL schedule. We’ll travel back to New Year’s Eve of 1961 when these two clubs met for the league championship at Green Bay’s New City Stadium, which would be renamed Lambeau Field at a later date. The frigid 17 degree day made it a classic “Frozen Tundra” type of game that Green Bay would be known for. Flashing back a year to the 1960 title game, the Packers had lost a heartbreaker to the Philadelphia Eagles and in the postgame locker room Packer coach Vince Lombardi, who felt he had cost the team with some dubious decisions, stated to his players that “this will never happen to us again.” The Packers made sure this edict would come true as they soundly defeated the Giants 37-0. Both teams seemed to use the first quarter to shake off their nerves, as normally reliable receivers Kyle Rote of the Giants and Green Bay’s Max McGee both dropped long passes. The quarter ended scoreless but the Pack, behind future Hall of Fame backs Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor, drove the ball inside the Giants’ red zone as time expired. Hornung began the second stanza by scoring on a six yard run to open the scoring. The Giants then came unraveled on their next 2 drives, which ended on Y.A. Tittle interceptions. Bart Starr made the New Yorkers pay for both turnovers, first finding flanker Boyd Dowler for a 13 yard touchdown and then hitting tight end Ron Kramer for a 14 yard score. The Giants then replaced Tittle at quarterback with aging veteran Charley Conerly, who drove the team downfield but couldn’t cash in any points. With their final possession of the half, the Packers used the running of Hornung and a long pass from Starr to Kramer to set up a short Hornung field goal to open up a commanding 24-0 lead.

The second half was an exercise in more futility for the Giants. A fumbled punt led to another Hornung field goal while Starr engineered another long drive that ended with another TD pass to Ron Kramer, stretching the Green Bay lead to 34-0. The Giants went back to Tittle at quarterback in the fourth quarter but his luck didn’t change. The Packers picked him off 2 more times, giving him 4 interceptions on the day. The only scoring of the final quarter was another Hornung field goal. His 19 points scored earned him the game’s Most Valuable Player award, and a shiny new 1962 Chevrolet Corvette. It was just another typical performance from the “Golden Boy”. He had totaled an amazing 176 points for the previous year in 1960, which was a 12 game season. That record stood until LaDainian Tomlinson broke it in a 16 game season in 2006. The convincing victory ushered in a dominant era of football that would see Lombardi’s club win a total of 5 championships in 7 years, earning Green Bay the moniker of “Titletown USA”.



Packer defense smothers Tittle (14) in 1961 title game


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