Dec. 31, 1961: Vince Lombardi's first NFL title with Packers came in third season

TITLE 7 of 13: Packers Rip Giants, 37-0, As Pvt. Hornung Scores 19 Points

Milwaukee Sentinel
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Editor's noteThis story was originally published Jan. 1, 1962.

Packers coach Vince Lombardi smiles after his team defeated the New York Giants in the NFL Championship Game, 37-0, in Green Bay in 1961.

Green Bay - Why, it was as easy as taking candy from a baby. The powerful Packers ran the Giants off the property Sunday, 37-0, and proved to the football world that they are the very best.

It was a tremendous performance by Vince Lombardi's National Football League champions, a great tribute to Green Bay and a wonderful reward to 39,029 customers who finally saw a title game in pneumonia gulch.

For a couple of magic hours on a cold December afternoon, the Packers time and again were "fustest with the mostest." Instead of heading into the "valley of destruction," the Giants should have stayed away. A forfeit in this bruising business is a much more respectable 1-0 score.

This 29th championship game supposedly matched two superb teams in the most important game of the year. The Giants tried mightily at first, but became a tired team which was shocked by a 24-point salute the Packers fired in the second quarter.

Battered and reeling under this heavy assault, the Giants never recovered. The Packers, on the other hand, never gave up and continued to play crisp, intelligent and nearly perfect football.

Pvt. Paul Hornung, "loaned" to the Packers by Uncle Sam during "title week," scored a record 19 points on a six-yard touchdown run, three field goals and four extra points. He also took rushing honors with 89 yards in 20 carries and caught three passes for 47 yards.

The old record for points scored in a championship game was 18 by Cleveland's Otto Graham in 1954 against the Lions.

The performance earned this remarkable athlete a fire-engine red sports convertible for being named the game's outstanding player. That's just what he wanted for Ft. Riley maneuvers.

Green Bay, however, had much more in its arsenal than the fabulous Hornung. It had sharp shooting Quarterback Bart Starr, who fired 10 bullseyes in 17 passes despite the 20 degree weather.

Three went all the way, Ron (The Tank) Kramer twice tore through congested New York lanes like a runaway beer truck with touchdown receptions of 14 and 13 yards.

Boyd Dowler, another amazing athlete who returned to Green Bay on a holiday leave from Ft. Lewis, Wash., grabbed Starr's third touchdown strike - another shorty from the 13 which necessitated a brilliant stretching catch.

Taylor Gets Loose

The Packers also had a gallant fullback in Jim Taylor, who disregarded a painful back injury to add 69 yards rushing. It was Taylor's 33-yard run that set up Hornung's last field goal from the 19, thus enabling Paul to break Graham's record.

Lombardi's strategy changed from the 20-17 victory achieved earlier this month in Milwaukee. Instead of running the Giants ragged on sweeps, the Packers ran and passed up the "gut" and ended with a 19-6 edge in the first downs, a 181-31 yard advantage rushing and 164-119 passing.

The Packer offensive line was at its blasting best.

Defense Awesome

While the offense cut the Giants' famed defense to shreds, it was the Packer defense which clamped the lid on the Big Towners. The front line of Willie Davis, Dave Hanner, Henry Jordan and Bill Quinlan went after those tired old men - Y.A. Tittle and Charlie Conerly - ruthlessly.

Linebackers Dan Currie, Tom Bettis, Bill Forester and Ray Nitschke, another soldier on leave from Ft. Lewis, shut out New York's running game and defenders Josse Whittenton, Hank Gremminger, Johnny Symank and Willie Wood stuck to the receivers like burrs.

The turning point for the Giants came late in the first quarter when they failed to go in from the Packer six. Thereafter, they looked tired and even more inept.

Tittle started, but backfired with two interceptions which Green Bay converted into touchdowns. Then Conerly, wearing sneakers, tried his luck until Y.A. returned late in the third quarter.

Tittle, bothered by a tremendous rush and butterfingered receivers, ended with only six completions in 20 attempts for 65 yards. More disturbing, though, was the fact he had four passes intercepted.

Conerly hit four of eight for 54 yards, but like Tittle, couldn't bring his gang home. The leading ground gainer for the Giants was Alex Webster, who dented the Bay bruisers for 19 yards in seven trips.

Rich Payoff

The overwhelming championship victory earned each Packer $5,195.44 - not bad for two hours, 20 minutes of huffing and puffing in winter's wonderland. Each losing New Yorker received $3,339.99 - not bad for being disgracefully shut out.

The victory margin, was the biggest since Detroit whipped Cleveland, 59-14, in 1957, and the "snow job" marked the first shut out since the Eagles blanked the Rams, 14-0 in 1949.

The mercury nudged over 20 when 42-year-old Packer Ben Agajanian started the show with a short kickoff that Joel Wells returned 15 yards to his 30. The Giants missed a first down by three yards and Don Chandler punted 41 yards to Wee Willie Wood, who squeezed out four yards before he was clobbered on the Packer 26.

Three straight blasts by Hornung missed a first down by a yard and Dowler punted 55 yards, despite a low pass from the center. However, the Packers jumped the gun and Dowler responded with another boomer, which Wells caught on the New York 11. He was collared by Elijah Pitts on the 15.

Rote Drops Pass

The first first down of the game now occurred when Webster gained two yards after Wells ripped through for eight. Tittle then attempted his first pass. It was on the button, but dropped by Kyle Rote on the 50.

Five plays later Rote dropped the another Tittle pass on the Packer 10 and Chandler had to punt again. This one sailed into the end zone and the stage was set for the Packers' first touchdown march.

Hornung hit for four. Max McGee couldn't hang onto Starr's bullet on the Giant 35, but Hornung took one over the middle on third down and scampered 26 yards to the 50.

Methodically, the Packers inched closer as Taylor and Hornung banged away for five yards at a crack. From the Giant 20, Starr went to the air and the first break of the game came the Packers' way.

Penalty Helps

Defender Erich Barnes was called for interfering with Dowler and the Packers had a first down on the 7. Taylor got a yard as the first quarter ended.

But from the six, it was duck soup for the trim 214-pound Hornung, who zipped over defensive left tackle like a robot. Hornung tacked on the extra point with four seconds of the second quarter played and Green Bay, as it was to turn out, had the game all wrapped up.

Wells took Agajanian's kickoff on his 16 and returned 10 yards. THe Giants gained four yards on a draw by Webster when ... boom ... disaster struck.

'Steal' By Nitschke

Jordan deflected Tittle's pass, Pvt. Nitshcke swiped it on the Giant 43 and returned nine yards. It took the Packers six plays to go in for their second touchdown.

Hornung first tried an option pass which McGee couldn't control on the 20, then Starr overthrew the Taxi in the end zone. On the third down, however, Starr hit Kramer over the middle for a 16 yard gain to the 18.

Taylor picked up five yards in two tries and the touchdown came like a flash from the 13 when Starr hit Dowler, streaking towards the end zone. Hornung converted at 4:19 and the Packers led, 14-0.

Another Interception

Three plays after the kickoff Tittle, from his 32, fired his second interception. Gremminger snared it on the Giant 49, returning 13 yards.

Again Starr stuck to the ground, sending his tankmen Taylor and Hornung up the middle. When the attack reached the 14, Starr fired over the middle to Kramer.

Sam Huff, Joe Morrison and Jim Patton were bolted over like ten pins as the 245-pound Packer end charged in for the touchdown at 10:04. Hornung kicked the extra point for a 21-0 lead.

This prompted Coach Allie Sherman to go with Conerly and the 40-year-old veteran of 13 seasons responded with a drive from the Giant 39 to the Packer six.

A 35-yard strike to Rote put the Giants in position on the 15. Phil King gained seven and Webster added two to the six. Needing a yard to go for a first down, Wells was nailed in his tracks.

Then Conerly went for the option with Bob Galters tossing to Rote in the corner of the end zone. Rote was wide open, but couldn't hit his mark. THe Packers took over and the Giants had lost their drive and spirit.

Packers Move

Time was running fast and so were the Packers, who quickly scooted from their 20 to the Giant 10 in five plays. A five yard off side penalty against New York stopped the clock and set up Hornung's first field goal from the 17. It sailed over perfectly as the gun sounded - giving the Packers a magnificently easy 24-0 first half advantage.

Nitschke returned a short second half kickoff 18 yards to the 36 before organized chaos prevailed. From his 37, Starr on second down ran to the Giant 40 where his fumble was recovered by Patton. The officials lost complete control of the situation when, after a brief discussion, decided to give the Packers a two yard penalty and better yet, a first down.

Four plays later, however, the Packers had to punt. Cliff Livingston partially blocked Dowler's boot and Larry Hayes returned three yards to the Giant 38, fumbled but it was recovered by teammate Mickey Walker.

With Conerly calling the shots, New York gained to midfield and, on fourth and one, decided to punt. Chandler's kick drifted out of bounds on the 15 and the Packers couldn't get out of the hole.

Dowler then punted and another mighty one sailed over Morrison's head on the Giant 25. The New York retriever lunged for the loose ball, fumbled and Forrest Gregg recovered on the Giant 22.

Tom Moore, subbing for Taylor, gained six. Hornung fumbled but recovered for no gain and then the mitten-clad Barnes goofed when he dropped Starr's pass for an easy interception. So on fourth down, Hornung dropped back to the 22 and split the uprights at 9:55, boosting Green Bay's lead to 27-0.

Again the Giants failed to pick up a first down in the third quarter with Conerly and the Packers got a break when Gene Johnson failed to see Wood signal for a fair catch on a punt and tripped into Willie. The penalty gave the Bays a first down on the Giant 43.

In five plays, the Packers scored again when Starr hit Kramer in the end zone with a perfect lob from the 13. Big Ron had Morrison trailing him, but he faked the defender out of the way.

Hornung kicked out the PAT at 12:12 and it was now, 34-0.

Tittle returned to the war after Wells ran back Agajanian's kickoff 25 yards to the 35. The Giants in four plays were on the Packer 30 as the fourth period started.

Following an incompletion Hanner, Quinlan and Davis lowered the boom on Tittle back on the 30. The Packers took over, but four plays later punted again.

Morrison made a fair catch on Dowler's kick on the Giant 21. Tittle then went for the bomb to Del Shofner. Whittenton stayed with the speedy Giant receiver and came up with a spectacular interception on the Packer 38.

Like after the previous breaks, Green Bay responded with more points. Taylor, on a draw, broke through for 33 yards to the Giant 14. Hornung lost six on a mixed up assignment, Starr tossed up the middle to Hornung eight yards and then Starr's pass to Kramer in the corner was broken up by Morrison.

Hornung then booted a 19-yard field goal at 6:48 in the fourth quarter. It was Paul's 19th point for a new playoff record.

As the fans counted off the remaining seconds, Tittle bowed out by throwing his fourth interception - this one to Herb Adderly, kneeling on the Giant 30. Adderly sprung up and reached the 16 before he was put down for keeps.

John Roach, subbing for Starr, held on to the ball as this old town went wild as the gun sounded.

The Packers were the toast of the football world New Year's Eve .... The Giants were probably in for a roasting when they arrived in New York.

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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