Dec. 13, 1936: Green Bay Packers win first NFL title game

TITLE 4 of 13: Herber's Darts Turn Bruising Tilt Into Rout

Milwaukee Journal
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Editor's note:This story was originally published Dec. 14, 1936.

Quarterback Arnie Herber (left) and end Don Hutson were two of five future Pro Football Hall of Fame members on the 1936 Packers.

New York, N.Y. - Green Bay's mighty, dazzling air minded Packers mounted the throne of professional football at the Polo Grounds Sunday afternoon with a smashing 21 to 6 victory over the Boston Redskins.

It was a battle between champions of the western and eastern divisions of the league and paid off not only in that intangible thing called the "title" but also in a crack at the college all-stars in Chicago next September - and that means money.

With irresistible fury and a spectacular pass attack engineered by Arnie Herber the Packers literally overwhelmed their rivals from the city of beans and culture.

Through most of the first half, which ended 7 to 6, it was very much a ball game, the kind everybody around here predicted it would be, but it was little more than a rout the second half. The deadly arrows with which these men of Lambeau almost literally shot their way into the western division championship also rained their death all over the field here and Boston couldn't do anything about it. Bedraggled and disorganized, the Redskins dragged themselves off the field at the finish, a thoroughly chastened ball club.

Despite the fact the game was played on neutral grounds, it attracted a paid attendance of 29,545 and a gate of $33,741. In rough estimates, each of the winning Packers, who voted to split their end into 30 shares, will receive about $250 for their day's work and each of the Redskins about $180. A perfect day for football, after almost a week of rain, helped bring out the crowd. The field, although it dried out under Sunday morning's sun, was heavy.

Herber hurled his arrows all over the field, tossing 23 of them in the course of the afternoon, and while he completed only nine, which is only an ordinary average for him, he and his receivers made the nine pay. The first touchdown was directly a result of a 40-yard pass, Herber to Hutson; the second was also directly the result of a pass, Herber to Gantenbein, and the third was scored after a series of passes had helped swing the play deep into Boston territory. Hutson scored the first touchdown, Gantenbein the second and Monnett the third.

In excellent physical and mental shape after the tough Detroit game two weeks ago, the Packers played some of their greatest football of the season in the second half. Svendsen, Ernie Smith, Bruder, with his all around defensive play in the backfield; Herber, Hutson, Hinkle, the bridegroom who was married here Sunday night, and Gantenbein all played particularly spectacular ball. Gantenbein not only stopped everything the Redskins shot at him, at end, but one time jarred Rentner so hard with a clean tackle that the crowd actually groaned, and Rentner, in a daze, had to be led off the field. It was beautiful, hard, inspired football no matter what combination of 11 trod the field.

A fist fight between Butler and Baush, rival centers, marred the game in the third quarter and brought expulsion to both.

The Packers scored their first touchdown in five minutes on one of their copyrighted dazzling pass plays, Herber to Hutson. A fumble by Riley Smith which Gordon recovered on Boston's 46-yard line gave them position and in three plays they hung up seven points. Sauer picked up only two at right tackle on the first and Hinkle only two at center on the second, but on the third down Herber faded back 10 yards, unfurled a forward pass that Hutson pulled in over his shoulder and the ball was home. Hutson with his beautiful change of pace, out-maneuvered Riley Smith in the race down the field and had a five-yard lead as he took the pass on the 15. The rest of the race to the goal was simple. Ernie Smith, with Herber holding, added the extra point on a placement.

At such a turn of affairs the highly keyed Redskins couldn't help but feel enraged and they quickly stepped out to even up matters. They took the kick-off, swapped punts and then with the ball on their own 22-yard line, after the exchange, drove 78 yards straight down the field. Rentner, on two digs at the line, first picked up 12 and a long, lazy pass, Irwin to Justice, picked up 32 more and brought the ball to Green Bay's 34.

There was no stopping the men of Flaherty here and in seven more plays, while the highly partisan crowed roared, they had their touchdown. A pass, Irwin to Millner picked up 10 yards, Battles and Irwin also added 10, and Rentner and Irwin on two more plays planted the ball on the two-yard line. The fury of Boston's charge blew all before it, and Rentner needed only one more play to lug the ball home. With Rentner holding, Riley Smith missed the extra point - his first failure incidentally in the last 15 attempts.

But with this one terrific charge, the Redskins rested their case. They fiddled around through the rest of the opening half without damage, and in the second half almost collapsed before the storming Packers. So completely did the Bays dominate the play in both the third and fourth quarter that Boston never even got a first down.

The one-point lead at the half was hardly enough to brag about, so as soon as the mighty men of the Bay got the kick-off in the third quarter they hung up their second touchdown.

Again it was the reward for a spectacular, almost unstoppable pass attack. With the ball on the 26 after the kick-off, Herber first passed down the middle to Gantenbein for 14 and then uncorked a 60-yard pass on first down that the irrepressible Johnny Blood took on the 10-yard line and carried to the four-yard line before Irwin forced him out of bounds. It was one of the grandest plays of the season. With the goal only four yards away, however, the Packers vainly pounded the Boston line and on fourth down still had the same four yards to go. But again they took to the air and with one deft shot, a short pass over the line, Herber to Gantenbein, they scored. The Redskins, now less than anybody else in the park, sensed a pass on the play, but they concentrated so much on Hutson and Blood in the flat that Gantenbein had nobody near him as he took the ball down the middle. Engebretsen added the extra point.

The complete mastery which the Packers showed in the spectacular drive they then proceeded to maintain through the rest of the ball game, too. They hurled back every Boston charge, consistently kept the play in mid-field or Boston territory with the help of some excellent punting by Hinkle, and in the later stages of play faced only a badly bedraggled and disorganized club.

It didn't take long, in a ball game that had taken this kind of turn, for the Packers to hang up touchdown No. 3. A punt of Riley Smith's that Evans blocked on the 20-yard line and that the fleet Hutson recovered on the two-yard line gave them position and in two plays they scored. On the first Hinkle rammed into center for one and on the second, with Boston massed to stop a similar charge, Monnett wheeled wide around left end for the touchdown. Smith again added the extra point.

The game here took on the proportions of a rout and the Packers quickly manufactured touchdown No. 4, although it didn't count because of a questionable offside. Gantenbein took a short pass in the flat and on a clever run, carried it 25 yards across the goal.

Again, a few minutes later, the Packers got a first down in scoring zones when Ernie Smith blocked another of Riley Smith's kicks and Paulekas recovered on Boston's 14. But three times an inch or so spoiled a pass that might have paid and the Redskins got the ball.

Past Champions

1936 Green Bay Packers
1935 Detroit Lions
1934 New York Giants
1933 Chicago Bears
1932 Chicago Bears
1931 Green Bay Packers
1930 Green Bay Packers
1929 Green Bay Packers
1928 Providence Steam Roller
1927 New York Giants
1926 Frankford Yellow Jackets
1925 Chicago Cardinals
1924 Cleveland Bulldogs
1923 Canton Bulldogs
1922 Canton Bulldogs
1921 Chicago Staleys
1920 Akron Pros

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, 1962Packers 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

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