A look at some of the statistics that define the Packers' 13 NFL championships.
Editor's note: This story was originally published Dec. 15, 1930.
Portsmouth, Ohio – You folks up in Green Bay get out the red light, kill the fatted goose and split up that $5,000 players’ purse, because the wars are over and the mighty Packers once more sit on the throne of the National league.
Holding the Portsmouth Spartans to a 6-6 tie here Sunday afternoon in one of the rip snorting classics of the football season, the Packers cinched their second straight National championship. They went into the game with a standing of .769 against New York’s .765 and by virtue of the tie came out of it the same way. It was the first time in the history of the league that a winner has repeated.
Team Worn To Frazzle
Happy, of course, over the tie and the championship it gave them, the Packers shuffled off the field in the dusk here Sunday worn to a frazzle by the terrific fight they had to put up just to hold their own. Those Spartans who carried Portsmouth’s purple into the battle Sunday were as tough as any the club the Packers have had to face this season. They didn’t have much of a pass attack themselves, or much of a defense against passes for which the Packers today chorus thanks, but they smashed out yards on the ground as few other clubs in the National league ever have against the champions.
Even the mighty Bears, with such sledgehammers as (Bronko) Nagurski and (Dick) Nesbitt, never did more through Green Bay’s line than Portsmouth with Chuck Bennett, Father Lumpkin, Mayes McLain and Tiny Lewis.
Tiny Misses In Pinch
It was the wish of some of the Packers after the game that they might invite Tiny Lewis, the old Northwestern fullback, up to the celebration that Green Bay has prepared for its conquerors Monday and Tuesday. Lewis played a whale of a game all around, but in his one mistake, he failed to convert the place kick for the extra point that would have given the Spartans a victory. And only last week, somewhat ironically, he kicked six straight against the Minneapolis Red Jackets, setting a National league record. But that’s football. He missed in a pinch.
By the same token, however, Green Bay, too, might have won by one point had Red Dunn kicked the goal after his team’s touchdown. But the redhead missed.
The Packers, keyed to a high pitch because victory meant so much to them, especially in dollars and cents, scored first carrying the ball straight down the field 55 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. A fourth down pass, Dunn to (Wuert) Engelmann, with 10 to go, carried the ball home. Engelmann, off to one side on the eight-yard line, caught the ball while on the dead run and easily crossed the goal line without interference. Dunn’s place kick went to the left of the uprights.
The Spartans, also keyed to a high pitch and fighting like a bunch of college sophomores at homecoming, came right back in the second quarter, however, and repeated this performance, going 68 yards down the field without losing the ball. Bennett, late of Indiana, carried the egg home from the nine-yard line on an off tackle smash on which he scattered the Packers who tried to stop him like so many toy soldiers. Two men grabbed him on the three-yard line but he gave a final mighty lunge and carried them with him over the goal.
Except for these sallies neither team ever had the ball inside its opponents’ 10 yard line. Once in the second quarter the Packers got to Portsmouth’s 22-yard line, but Fleckenstein intercepted a pass and halted the march. Again the third quarter they went down to the Portsmouth’s 33-yard line but Lewis intercepted a pass. And a third time in the fourth quarter they reached Portsmouth’s 34-yard line, but lost the ball on downs.
On the other hand the Spartans got down to Green Bay’s 10-yard line early in the second quarter, but lost the ball when they completed a pass on, which Lewis, the officials ruled was out of bounds opposite the end zone. Again in the fourth quarter they went down to Green Bay’s 14-yard line but passed over the ball on downs.
Passes Save Packers
As in other games this season the Packers held their own because of a marked superiority in the air. They were badly beaten on the ground, almost 2 to 1 in yards from scrimmage, but they more than made up for this with their successful excursions in the clouds. Portsmouth had little defense against passes, the Packers completing nine out of 19.
Against this the Spartans pounded out yards on the ground until it seemed the gold clad Packer wall couldn’t hold any more. They rolled up 201 yards from scrimmage against a line which is supposed to be as tough as any in the post-graduate league. If they had had any kind of passing attack to support their running the story today might be different. But they didn’t. Their passing was feeble and with a sledgehammer alone they could hardly hope to win.
The Packers got their first touchdown in the first 10 minutes of play. The kickoff, an exchange of kicks which left them with the ball on their own 45 yard line, and they were off.
Bays Start Parade
Molenda on three plays brought the tomato to Portsmouth’s 45-yard line. Lewellen and a Portsmouth penalty for offside carried to the 33-yard line and a pass, Lewellen to Nash, made it first down on the 16-yard line. Here the Spartans braced momentarily and fourth down found Green Bay with still 10 to go. But out of his grabbag Dunn picked the aforementioned pass to Engelmann and the Packers had their touchdown. Dunn, as related before, missed the goal.
Incensed by the this sudden onslaught the Spartans opened a drive of their own in the second quarter, and from their own 31-yard line advanced down to Green Bay’s 10-yard line on three straight first downs. The last one was on a forward pass, Peters to Lewis, on which the head linesman ruled interference on Lewellen at the 10-yard line. However, the Spartans found the going tougher and after making only five yards on three downs they threw a pass, Peters to Lewis, which was completed but which Dudley ruled Lewis caught the ball out of bounds. It was a close play. If Lewis did catch the ball out of bounds it wasn’t by more than inches.
Come Back Together
Held from a score here, the Spartans came back tougher than ever when they got the ball again later in this same period, and on another great march down the field tied the score. Starting on their own 32-yard line they alternatively gave the ball to Lumpkin and Bennett to tramp down to Green Bay’s nine-yard line, from where the Indiana comet, Bennett, slashed over left tackle for the score. It was a vicious drive. Tiny Lewis had a chance to sew up the ball game here, as later events proved, but he accommodated the Packers by squirting a feeble kick off to the side.
Green Bay came back as the period closed and on four straight first downs, thanks to passes, got down to the Portsmouth 22-yard line, where Fleckenstein intercepted a pass to stop the drive.
Neither team threatened in the third quarter, but in the fourth, after McCrary’s fumble in mid-field had permitted the Spartans to throw the play into Green Bay territory, the boys in purple made a last desperate attempt to score. On two first downs they got down to Green Bay’s 23-yard line, but Lumpkin failed by inches to make another first down on the 13-yard line and the Spartans lost the ball. Darling made the tackle that stopped Lumpkin and – who knows – that perhaps saved the championship.
Penalties Halt Rally
The Packers came back in the closing minutes, after Blood had intercepted a pass in mid-field and got down to Portsmouth’s 35-yard line but two 15-yard penalties in succession took all the wind out of their sails. What was the difference, however, a tie was as good as a victory, and the championship once more belongs to that hotbed of football – Green Bay.
1930 Packers at a Glance
Coach: Curly Lambeau
Hall of Fame players: Arnie Herber, Cal Hubbard, Johnny "Blood" McNally, Mike Michalske
Key statistics: The Packers won the championship by .004 percentage points. They had a .769 winning percentage, while the second-place New York Giants finished at 13-4, a .765 winning percentage. ... The Packers scored 47 points in a victory over Portsmouth, the first time they had scored more than 30 points since a 35-0 whitewashing of the Racine Tornadoes in 1926.
A story worth retelling: The Packers finished the season with seven straight road games. They played two in Chicago then left for New York by train on Nov. 19 and didn't return home until Dec. 9. One of the games on their eastern trip was against the Staten Island Stapletons. The Packers boarded a ferry in their uniforms for the ride to Staten Island. After arriving, they had to journey seven more miles to the stadium. The story has been told in a book about the history of the Packers that the players walked the seven miles with their cleats in hand, but there was no mention of that in newspaper accounts the next day.
Cliff Christl, 1998
Packers' championship titles
1. Dec. 8, 1929: The Green Bay Packers' first league title
2. Dec. 14, 1930: Tie clinches second straight championship
3. Nov. 29, 1931: Punter/halfback Verne Lewellen helps secure third title
4. Dec. 13, 1936: Green Bay's first championship decided by a post-season game
5. Dec. 10, 1939: Fifth title dubbed the Dairy Bowl
6. Dec. 17, 1944: The Packers' final championship under Curly Lambeau
7. Dec. 31, 1961: Vince Lombardi's first NFL title
8. Dec. 30, 1962: Packers still champs as Ray Nitschke leads way
9. Jan. 2, 1966: 1st of 3 straight Packers titles began with 'Mud Bowl'
10. Jan. 15, 1967: Packers beat Chiefs to win Super Bowl I
11. Jan. 14, 1968: Packers rout Raiders to repeat as Super Bowl champions
12. Jan. 26, 1997: Power and the Glory. Packers win Super Bowl XXXI.
13. Feb. 6, 2011: Packers survive injuries to beat Steelers in Super Bowl XLV