NFL – Throwback Thursday: Gateway To A Victory

16 Dec

We’re headed into the home stretch of the NFL season, and one of this week’s games matches the team with the best record, the Arizona Cardinals, against the club with the worst mark, the Detroit Lions. These 2 teams met in a game played on October 1, 1967 at St.Louis’ Busch Stadium, when the Cardinals were located in the Gateway To The West city. Both of these teams were perennial also-rans in the 1960s, but it didn’t keep them from providing fans with some exciting games during the decade. This game veered from the usual “three yards and a cloud of dust” style of 1960s NFL football. It turned into what qualified as a shootout in that era between Detroit veteran signal caller Milt Plum and the Cardinals’ young second year gunslinger, Jim Hart.

The Lions came out swinging and took an early 7-0 lead with a drive that ended on a one yard scoring plunge by Mel Farr. Detroit then pinned the Cards deep in their own territory, and when Hart tried to throw out of his own end zone Larry Hand picked it off at the 2 yard line and walked into the end zone to up the lead to 14-0. St. Louis finally found their bearings in the second quarter and Hart guided them to a couple of scores, with halfback Johnny Roland finding paydirt from a yard out and Jim Bakken booting a 39 yard field goal to put the game within striking distance at 14-10. Plum took to the air and found his favorite target, Pat Studstill, on a 37 yard touchdown throw to extend the lead to 21-10. When Roland found the end zone again for the Cards, on another 1 yard run, the gap was closed to 21-17 at the half.

The Cardinals came out of the locker room rejuvenated in the second half, and took the lead when Hart hit his tight end, Jackie Smith, with a 57 yard touchdown bomb. Roland scored his third rushing touchdown, from 6 yards out, to end the third quarter scoring, and St. Louis suddenly found themselves up 28-17. The Lions fought back in the final quarter, and Plum and Studstill connected again, on a 23 yard scoring pass. Plum finished with 206 yards passing for the day, a sizable amount for a game in those days, with Studstill amassing 107 of those yards on 5 catches. Hart had a favorite target that day also in split end Billy Gambrell, who also had 5 receptions, for 117 yards. The biggest of the connections for the Cardinal duo resulted in a 48 yard touchdown that completed the scoring. When the final gun sounded, St. Louis had themselves a hard-fought 38-28 victory.


Johnny Roland stopped by the Lions’ defense


Both clubs settled into their usual mediocrity as the season wore on, with the Cardinals finishing third in the league’s Century Division at 6-7-1, and Detroit also winding up third in the Central Division at 5-7-2. There was at least a hint of hope in Detroit in the ’67 season as the Lions boasted both the NFL’s Offensive and Defensive Rookies of The Year in Farr and Lem Barney.


Cards vs. Lions game program




Comments Off on NFL – Throwback Thursday: Gateway To A Victory

Posted in Feature Stories, Football


Comments are closed.