Dec. 30, 1962: Packers still champs as Ray Nitschke leads way

TITLE 8 of 13: Nitschke Key Man In Packer Triumph

Bud Lea
Milwaukee Sentinel
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Editor's note: This story was originally published Dec. 31, 1962.

Green Bay Packers linebacker Ray Nitschke in 1962

New York, N.Y. – When the Green Bay Packers’ chartered bus wheeled into the parking lot at noon Sunday, linebacker Ray Nitschke shouted with great enthusiasm, “Welcome to Yankee stadium, home of the world champion Packers.”

About 4 ½ hours later, Nitschke and his thunderous playmates had booted the New York Giants off the property, 16-7, and were celebrating in the catacombs of this historic ball park. Yankee stadium was theirs, New York was theirs – the professional football championship of the world was theirs!

For the second straight year, Green Bay had outslicked the big city slickers.

The Giants came close after ending on an emotional wave to wipe out the memories of last year’s crushing defeat. But close is no cigar.

Nitschke has an uncanny faculty of picking up the Packers mentally. He is the holler guy for the champions, be he punctuates his words with action.

After the Packers took a 3-0 first quarter lead on Jerry Kramer’s 26 yard field goal, the Giants roared back like irritated elephants to the Green Bay 15.

At this critical time, Nitschke poked his ham sized paw in the flight pattern of a Y.A. Tittle pass and the deflected missile fell into the hands of the Packers’ Dan Currie, who ran back 30 yards.

Late in the second quarter, Nitschke again shocked the Giants by recovering Phil King’s fumble on the New York 28. Two plays later Jim Taylor responded with a standup touchdown from the seven to give the champions a 10-0 halftime advantage.

Ray Nitschke makes one of his two fumble recoveries in the 1962 NFL Championship Game against the New York Giants.

Barnes Blocks Punt

The first time the Giants touched a Packer punt in the second half they scored. Erich Barnes roared in on Max McGee, who was punting from his three yard line, and the blocked kick rolled into the end zone, where Jim Collier fell on it for New York’s score.

But a short time later Nitschke again rose to the occasion. Sam Horner fumbled a punt return and mountainous Ray recovered on the New York 42.

Five plays later Jerry Kramer booted a 29 yard field goal to give Green Bay a 13-7 third quarter lead. Late in the fourth period Kramer kicked the third field goal from the 30 and the Giants were dead.

It was a very bitter, cold winter afternoon when the teams came out and tested the Yankee stadium turf and a violent wind kicked up dusty gusts of 20-30 miles per hour.

“Beat Green Bay”

The Packers’ backs and ends decided to wear rippled soled shoes, the kind the coaching staff uses. But the semifrozen field made it difficult for runners and receivers to cut and the wind played havoc with the passers.

Still, the show must go on. And what a show it was before a sellout crowd of 64,892 and countless millions who watched on television in the comfort of their homes.

The unvarnished truth is that the Packers were outgained in total yards, 293 to 244, outgained per play, 4.4 yards to 3.5. But when the chips were down, the Packers scored and the Giants could not keep pace.

So here’s a toast to the Packers’ defense – the rush line of Willie Davis, Dave Hanner, Henry Jordan and Bill Quinlan, who made life jumpy for Tittle, linebackers Nitschke, Currie and Bill Forester, who nipped every New York threat – in the bud, and to the secondary of Willie Wood, Jesse Whittenton, Herb Adderley and Henry Gremminger, who stuck to Giant receivers like burrs.

On offense, Taylor was the workhorse, pounding 31 times into the beefy New York defense for 85 yards. Hornung added 35 yards on eight carries and Tom Moore gained 24 on six trips.

The Packers ran 46 times and passed on 22 occasions. The Giants, who live with the pass, went to the air 41 times and ran 26. The pass alone is not enough. And seven points isn’t going to win much of anything in a game of this importance.

When the Packers took the field, they were booed. And a roaring chant was struck up in the stands, “Beat Green Bay, beat Green Bay.”

The Giants won the toss and received. The game was held up momentarily because the ball twice fell off the kicking tee.

Rookie Earl Gros then held it and Willie Wood kicked to Joe Morrison on the 15. He returned 17 yards. The Giants got as far as their 46 on strictly running plays before punting.

Now it was Green Bay’s turn. Hornung was in the attacking unit that rolled from its 25 to the Giant 19. But there the drive stalled when Taylor was gang tackled for no gain on a third down and one yard to go play.

Kramer then kicked a 26 yard field goal at 7:11. The Giants howled that it was wide of its mark.

Giants Bounce Back

The Giants came back strong on Horner’s 24 yard kick-off return to the 38. They got into Packerland on Tittle’s 21 yard pass play to a “free” Del Shofner.

But when they reached the 15, Tittle’s favorite weapon boomeranged, Nitschke deflected his pass intended for Joe Walton and Currie grabbed it and returned 30 yards before tripping on the frozen turf.

The Packers powered their way to the Giants’ 30 before running out of gas. From the 37, Kramer then missed his second field goal attempt.

The quarter ended: Green Bay 3, New York 0. Thousands in the stands began stamping their feet for action – and to keep warm.

Tittle couldn’t hit; the Packers went into a deep freeze. But late in the second quarter, the Giants got into hot water.

Currie hit King so violently that the ball popped out of his grasp on the Giant 28 and Johnny on the spot Nitschke recovered.

A Big Break

This was a break, a big break. Hornung, on the option play, fired a perfect 21 yard pass to Boyd Dowler to the eight. Taylor then dashed over standing up as the buzz saw blocks of Jerry Kramer, Jim Ringo and Forrest Gregg cleaned out the New Yorkers.

Kramer tacked on the extra point and the Packers had the Giants on the hook at halftime, 10-0.

When action resumed in the second half, the temperature had dipped three degrees to a penetrating 17.

Tom Moore returned the kickoff 35 yards to midfield. But the Packers failed to penetrate any farther than the Giant 42.

A sleeping Giant in the first half suddenly became aroused. After McGee punted the easterners into a hole on their seven, they roared back to the Packer 45.

But the Giants’ offense which failed to score last year, bumbled again. Had it not been for a defensive gem, New York would have been blanked for the second straight time.

A blocked punt turned the trick. McGee kicked from the three when suddenly Barnes knocked the ball back into the end zone. Collier said later on the bench, “All I had to do was fall on it.”

Chandler kicked the extra point at 7:36 in the third quarter and the Packers’ lead was cut to 10-7. Once again the Packers’ ground corps had trouble getting started on the frozen field and McGee punted to Horner. But Sam bobbled the ball and Nitschke recovered on the Giant 42.

The Packers went in for a 29 yard field goal by Kramer with four minutes to play in the third quarter.

Packers Lose Wood

It was near the end of the period that the Packers lost the services of Willie Wood, their ace pass defender. Willie wasn’t hurt – he was booted out of the game for “hitting” back judge Thomas Kelleher.

Wood became infuriated when he was called for interference on a pass to Shofner, giving the Giants possession on the Green Bay 33. In the ensuing excitement, he accidently tripped Mr. Kelleher. That not only meant the ejection of Wood, but a 15 yard personal foul penalty gave the Giants a golden opportunity to do some real damage from the Packer 18.

Symank Replaces Wood

Johnny Symank, a starter last year, took over for Wood. The Giants, however, became their worst enemy when two holding penalties shoved ‘em back to their 40.

The game went into the fourth period with Green Bay still hanging on to a slim 13-7 lead. Time now became the big factor. With 6:53 remaining, the Packers muscled their way from the 28 to the Giant 23. Then with two minutes left, Kramer booted a perfect field goal from the 30 to give the Packers an almost insurmountable 16-7 lead.

The crowd, once screaming for Green Bay’s scalp, now became as quiet as visitors at an art gallery. The remaining seconds shivered away as Tittle took to the air and moved the losers from the Giant 27 to the Packer 10.

The gun sounded and there were the Giants – again on the short end of the score.

A second straight world championship is a tremendous tribute to Vince Lombardi and his coaching staff. The Packers probably are the most intensely coached club in history. This is a deserving title.

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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