On This Date…
1989: The Packers didn’t need any miracles to topple the world champions.
At week 11 of the 1989 season, the Packers seemed to be an improved team with a knack for fantastic finishes, but little more than that. All but one of their five victories had come via frantic comebacks and last-second heroics; the only team they’d beaten decisively was the woeful Cowboys.
Stuck in third place in the NFC Central after a 31-22 loss at Detroit, the Packers traveled to San Francisco to face the 9-1 49ers, who’d just dismantled Atlanta 45-3. But the Packers, 9 ½-point underdogs, controlled the stunned 49ers from the opening whistle — at least as much as a team averaging almost 30 points a game can be controlled.
Tied 7-7 with 11:26 to go in the first half, SS Chuck Cecil stepped in front of Jerry Rice and returned the interception to the San Francisco 9. (Montana had gone 149 attempts without throwing a pick). Don Majkowski’s strike to Sterling Sharpe moments later put the Packers ahead, but the 49ers responded with a remarkable 98-yard drive, scoring just before the half ended.
…1970: Bart Starr treated Green Bay fans to one last great moment as quarterback of the Packers.
By week 9 of the 1970 season, neither the Packers nor the Bears had realistic playoff aspirations, but that didn’t stop their 103rd meeting from being memorable. The Packers seemed to be in control well into the third quarter, but then Bears WR Dick Gordon — who would go on to lead the NFC in receptions in 1970 — got behind Willie Wood and snagged a long touchdown pass to tie the game.
The Bears dominated play in the fourth quarter, but had to settle for field goals each time they got close to the Packer goal. (Amazingly, the Packers defense prevented the Bears from converting any of their 13 third-down chances on the day.) Mac Percival’s fourth three-pointer of the day gave Chicago a 19-13 lead with 1:37 left.
The Packers got the ball back with the goal line 80 dim yards away. But to the delight of fans who’d gotten used to watching his decline, Starr’s chronically sore arm suddenly came to life. In trademark fashion, he methodically picked the Bears apart, completing key first-down passes of 18, 29, and 11 yards to keep the drive alive. Overall, Starr was an efficient 23-of-35 passing for 220 yards.
…1994: The NFL’s oldest rivalry returned to its wet, muddy roots.
In a Soldier Field downpour accompanied by gusting 53 mph winds, the Packers manhandled the Bears 33-6 in the 149th meeting between the two teams, and moved into a second-place tie in the NFC Central.
The kickoff temperature was 43 degrees, but the wind chill was only 10 above. The only reasonable offensive strategy was to run the ball, and the Packers — ranked 26th in the NFL in rushing prior to the game — did so beautifully. They rolled up a 223-94 advantage in rushing yards, and RB Edgar Bennett ran for 105 yards and three touchdowns.
Much of their success running came on the left side of the line, where T Ken Ruettgers, G Guy McIntyre, and C Frank Winters had little trouble with Bears DE Alonzo Spellman and DT Chris Zorich.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Packers scored two touchdowns in the second, and the rout was on. They built a 27-0 lead before the Bears got on the board thanks to backup QB Steve Walsh, who connected with Jeff Graham late in the game. By then, the Packers had taken what little crowd there was out of the game — there were almost 20,000 no-shows at kickoff, and fewer than 25,000 soaked diehards were left in the stands by the end.
Brett Favre completed only six passes for 82 yards (and was 0 for 7 until late in the third quarter), but he contributed to the running parade with a 36-yard scamper down the near sideline, diving into the end zone for the Packers’ second score.
….1967: Reports of the Packers’ demise were greatly exaggerated.
With a record of 3-1-1, and coming off a wrenching 10-7 loss to 20-point underdog Minnesota, some pundits figured the aging Packers were ripe for the picking as they invaded New York’s Yankee Stadium. Meanwhile, the Giants and their new quarterback, Fran Tarkenton, were gunning for a share of first place in the NFL’s Century Division.
For the first half, it appeared that’s what the New Yorkers would get. Tarkenton went 10-for-15 and confounded the Packer defense with his scrambling while building a 14-10 halftime lead.
But after the Packers seemed to stall following the second-half kickoff, the tide turned when the Giants were penalized for pass interference on a third-and-long play, and the comeback (and rout) was on. The Packers went on to score six out of the seven times they had the ball in the final two quarters, outscoring New York 38-7.
Bart Starr, playing for the first time in three weeks after battling a series of injuries, found his bearings in the second half. Although he completed only nine passes, three of them were clutch completions of 28, 23 and 33 yards that led directly to Green Bay rushing touchdowns, and another was a 38-yard scoring toss to RB Jim Grabowski.
While Grabowski and Elijah Pitts helped roll up 249 rushing yards on the day, the Packers corralled Tarkenton and the Giants, allowing on 79 yards of total offense in the second half.
The game marked the 12th straight time (counting pre-season) that the Packers beat the Giants in the 1960s. Starting with this game, the Packers won six of their next seven on their way to a second straight Super Bowl championship. The Giants, meanwhile, slumped to a 7-7 finish and wouldn’t again make the playoffs for 14 more years.
October 22, 1967
Yankee Stadium, New York
1 2 3 4 Final Packers 7 3 10 28 48 Giants 0 14 0 7 21
GB: Elijah Pitts 3 run (Don Chandler kick)
NY: Homer Jones 22 pass from Fran Tarkenton (Pete Gogolak)
NY: Joe Morrison 18 pass from Tarkenton (Gogolak)
GB: Chandler 21 field goal
GB: Pitts 6 run (Chandler)
GB: Chandler 36 field goal
GB: Pitts 1 rush (Chandler)
GB: Jim Grabowski 2 run (Chandler)
NY: Jones 30 yard pass from Tarkenton (Gogolak)
GB: Grabowski 38 pass from Bart Starr (Chandler)
GB: Donny Anderson 7 run (Chandler)
Trivia: How many former Packers also had sons who played for Green Bay? The answer will appear in the Comments section tomorrow.
…1984: The Packers got snowed under by their own mistakes, as well as by a Rocky Mountain blizzard.
In a raging snowstorm that dumped 10 inches of snow on Denver over the course of the afternoon and evening, Green Bay’s Monday night tilt with the Broncos boasted one of the most bizarre beginnings to a game in Packer history.
Denver won the opening coin toss but, given the conditions, elected to kick. On the Packers’ first play from scrimmage, Gerry Ellis fumbled on a run off right tackle, and safety Steve Foley ran it in for a quick score. Following the ensuing kickoff, the Packers ran the same play, this time with Jessie Clark carrying the ball, if only temporarily. Same play, same result: Fumble, Packers; touchdown, Broncos.
After 37 seconds of game time, Green Bay found itself behind 14-0. They dominated play the rest of the night, rolling up 423 yards of offense to Denver’s 193 and 25 first downs to the Broncos’ 10. Lynn Dickey overcame the Broncos, the snow, and wind gusts that reached 55 mph by throwing for 371 yards (206 of them to James Lofton), but the team couldn’t overcome blunders at crucial times.
After Denver’s second TD, Del Rodgers returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards, and the Packers eventually moved to the Denver 11. But a sack by Karl Mecklenburg, followed by a missed 29-yard field goal attempt by Eddie Garcia, left the score the same.
(Garcia also missed from 37 yards late in the second quarter, putting him at 3 for 9 in field goal tries for the season, and prompting coach Forrest Gregg to cut him later in the week in favor of street free agent Al Del Greco.)
A pair of second-half touchdowns pulled the Packers to within striking distance, but with just over three minutes left to play, Rulon Jones sacked Dickey at the Denver 28, forcing the fumble that settled the outcome for good.
The loss was the sixth of seven in a row for the snakebitten Packers after an opening-day win. The team committed five turnovers, but looked like the model of efficiency next to the Broncos’ opponent from the previous week. In that game, Detroit turned the ball over to Denver 10 times in a 28-7 loss.
As for the snowstorm that helped make the game legendary, it was dramatic enough to warrant a brief write-up in the following week’s Time magazine, which reported that with many of the Denver’s snowplows still in storage, nearby Interstate 70 was the scene of a spectacular (but not fatal) 56-car accident during the game.
October 15, 1984
Mile High Stadium, Denver
1 2 3 4 Final Packers 0 0 7 7 14 Broncos 14 3 0 0 17
DN: Steve Foley 22 fumble return (Rich Karlis kick)
DN: Louis Wright 27 fumble return (Karlis)
DN: Karlis 30 FG
GB: Gerry Ellis 5 run (Eddie Garcia)
GB: James Lofton 54 pass from Lynn Dickey (Garcia)
Trivia: Between 1984 and 1990, the Packers faced AFC teams 26 times. How many of those games did Green Bay win? The answer will appear in the Comments section tomorrow.
2005: The Packers used up a month’s worth of big plays in one afternoon.
After losing their first four games of the season — the last three by a total of six points — Green Bay finally found someone to beat up on. The New Orleans Saints had been ousted from the Superdome thanks to Hurricane Katrina, and the forlorn Crescent City squad was demolished by the Packers, 52-3.
After being held to a three-and-out on their opening drive and giving up a Saints field goal, the Packers exploded for five first-half touchdowns, two coming from Najeh Davenport before he broke his ankle in the second quarter.
On defense, Al Harris intercepted two passes (returning one for a score), broke up three more and recorded a sack, while Nick Barnett capped the scoring with an interception return of his own.
The demoralized Saints were as bad as the Packers were good, stumbling through 13 penalties, five turnovers, and two missed field goals. The turnovers led to 31 of the Packers’ 52 points.
Missing injured WR Joe Horn, and with the Packers shutting down RB Deuce McAllister, the Saints had to depend on erratic QB Aaron Brooks for offensive production. After throwing his second interception and completing only 9 of 22 passes, Brooks was benched in favor of backup Todd Bouman. The second-stringer didn’t fare much better, going 5-for-13 and serving up the Barnett interception.
New Orleans couldn’t stop the Packer offense, either, despite the fact that it was missing starters Javon Walker, Ahman Green, Mike Flanagan and Bubba Franks. With his two starting guards playing on injured legs, Brett Favre gave his battered line a break by frequently rolling out, and completing three crucial passes off bootlegs for 39 yards, including a pinpoint 25-yard TD to Robert Ferguson in the back of the end zone.
Alas, the dominant performance — their greatest margin of victory in 39 years — was not a sign of things to come. The Packers went on to lose their next three and six of their next seven, leading to the eventual firing of head coach Mike Sherman.
Oct. 9, 2005
Lambeau Field, Green Bay
1 2 3 4 Final Saints 3 0 0 0 3 Packers 14 21 10 7 52
NO: John Carney 33 field goal
GB: Najeh Davenport 1 run (Ryan Longwell kick)
GB: Al Harris 22 interception return (Longwell)
GB: Davenport 4 run (Longwell)
GB: Robert Ferguson 25 pass from Brett Favre (Longwell)
GB: David Martin 1 pass from Favre (Longwell)
GB: Donald Lee 26 pass from Favre (Longwell)
GB: Longwell 26 field goal
GB: Nick Barnett 95 interception return (Longwell)
Trivia: Nick Barnett’s 95-yard interception return was the second-longest in Packers history. Who holds the team record for the longest run with a pick? The answer will appear in the Comments section tomorrow.