|1961 NFL Championship Game|
|Date||December 31, 1961|
|City||Green Bay, WI|
|TV/Radio in the United States|
|TV Announcers||Lindsey Nelson, Chris Schenkel|
|Radio Announcers||Ray Scott, Jim Leaming|
The 1961 National Football League championship game was the 29th title game. The game was played at "New" City Stadium, later known as Lambeau Field, in Green Bay, Wisconsin on December 31, 1961. The attendance was 39,029.
Paul Hornung, on leave from the Army, scored 19 points for the Packers.
The victory would be the first of five NFL titles won in a seven-year span by the Packers and their coach, Vince Lombardi.
This was the first championship to be held in Green Bay. The Packers only other championship "home" game until then was played in Milwaukee in 1939. The Giants were playing in their 3rd championship game in four years.
With 40,000 tickets sold at $10 each and $615,000 in TV revenue,this game was the first NFL Championship to generate $1 million in revenue. Temperature at game time hovered at 20º and for several days the field had been covered with a tarp topped by a foot of hay. The covering was particularly significant as just two days before, the temperature had dipped to -15º. Field conditions were of paramount concern if the teams were to make effective use of the running game. All the Packers players used cleats whereas about half of the Giants players, led by coach Allie Sherman, chose sneakers, believing sneakers would grip better if the field was frozen. At 6am on game day workers began the arduous process of snow and hay removal by hand using baskets, as heavy equipment could have potentially damage the field.
$5,000 each would be paid to the winners and $3000 each to the losing team's players.
Green Bay had already beaten the Giants 20-17 on Dec 3rd, in Green Bay.
After both teams exchanged punts, the Giants were on the move to the Green Bay 46-yard line when the Giants Kyle Rote, who was wide open but looking back into the sun, dropped a long pass from Y.A. Tittle at the GB 10. When the Packers took over for their 2nd possession, Max McGee returned the favor by dropping a 50 yard pass from Starr. However, Jim Taylor, despite having injured a kidney in the Rams game two weeks before, and Paul Hornung kept the Packers drive moving to the NY 6-yard line as time expired.
Capping a 12-play 80-yard drive, Hornung, the NFL's MVP for 1961, slashed outside right tackle for a touchdown on the first play of the 2nd quarter. Hornung's extra-point gave GB a 7-0 lead.
The Giants next two possessions, resulted in two Tittle interceptions within two minutes. The first by Ray Nitschke led to a Bart Starr to Boyd Dowler slant pass in front of the goal post for a 13-yard Touchdown. Both Nitschke and Dowler were on leave from Ft Lewis In Washington. The second Packer interception, by Hank Gremminger, resulted in a Ron Kramer 14-yard Touchdown from Starr. Charley Conerly then replaced Tittle at Quarterback and most of the Giants had switched to cleats by this time.
Conerly hit Kyle Rote with a 35 yard pass to the Green Bay 15, but Bob Gaiters missed Rote (who was wide open again) in the end zone on a 4th down halfback option pass.
With time in the half running down, Hornung gained 24 yards on two carries, and wide receiver Ron Kramer caught a pass from Starr over the middle, broke two tackles and gained 38 yards. Hornung followed with a 17-yard field goal, as time ran out, to make the halftime score 24-0, Packers.
In an unusual turn of events, the Packers were given five downs on their first possession of the quarter. On first down, Hornung ran up the middle, then on second down, Bart Starr scrambled for 15 yards and fumbled the ball away. But the Packers were flagged for an illegal procedure penalty. After the Giants refused the penalty, the officials at first gave the ball to the Giants. But realizing a procedure penalty negates any resulting play, the officials correctly gave the ball back to Green Bay, albeit with a 1st down instead of second down. Despite the extra play, Green Bay eventually punted and the Packers Forrest Gregg recovered when Joe Morrison fumbled the return. Hornung booted a 22-yard field goal making it 27-0.
The Packers continued their march towards the championship with Tom Moore, replacing Taylor, and Hornung running and Starr's third touchdown pass. The Giants responded with Tittle at Quarterback again.
The veteran Tittle, who would lead the Giants to two more championship appearances in '62 and '63, could do no better throwing an interception to the Packers Jesse Whittenton. Jim Taylor back in the game, promptly rumbled outside the right tackle on a 33 yard run to the Giants 13. Hornung ended the scoring with a 19-yard field goal. A fourth Tittle interception had the Packers knocking on the goal line again as the gun sounded ending the game.
This was the fourth shutout in NFL Championship game history and coach Lombardi's first of five championships in seven years. Lombardi used a strategy in this game that was common in all the Packers championships. A strategy of fundamentally sound football (the Packers had no turnovers and only 16 yards in penalties) and to beat the opposition at their strength, in this case running the ball at the Giants linemen Andy Robustelli and Rosi Greer. In 1959 Lombardi had taken over a Green Bay franchise that was the worst team in the league in 1958 and in three years turn them into NFL Champions.
1960 NFL Championship Game
|NFL Championship Game|
| Succeeded by|
1962 NFL Championship Game