Vince Lombardi-Best Effort

Many NFL writers said Vince Lombardi’s finest hour was 1967, his last year before leaving the Green Bay Packers.   Paul Hornug retired, Jim Taylor went to New Orleans, and Bart Starr missed several games with an injury.  Donnie Anderson, Ben Wilson, and Jim Grawbowski become the Packers top rushers.   Travis Williams was a one year sensation as a kick returner and running back.   Chuck Mercein, whom the Giants released,played a big role in the NFL Championship Game.

In 1967, the NFL split both the Eastern and Western Conference into two divisions, adding two playoff games. (Check the 1967 NFL season for the set up).  The Packers were in the weak NFL Central Division with Chicago, Detroit, and Minnesota.  Lombardi had the Division wrapped up after 12 weeks.  They lost their final two games and finished 9-4-1. The Coastal Division was much more competitive.   The Los Angeles Rams and the Baltimore Colts played dead even all along.  It came down to the final game at Los Angeles- Baltimore was undefeated at 11-0-2, while the Rams were 10-1-2.  The teams had tied earlier.  Los Angles defeated the Colts in the final game, 34 to 10.  Both teams had 11-1-2 records but the Rams did better in head on competition.  Baltimore lost only the final game but saw no posts season action.

The important games for the Green Bay Packers follows.  Their losses for the season seemed more important than their one big victory.

Game 5. Minnesota Vikings at Packers.  This game has the most see saw statistics imaginable.    The Vikings rushed for 158 yards to just 42 for the Packers.  For Green Bay, Bart Starr was injured and did not play.  Zeke Bratkowski passed for 240 yards to an unbelievable 25 for Minnesota.   Early on, Bratkowski threw an 86 yard touchdown pass to Carrol Dale.  This held up for three quarters.  The Vikings rallied for 10 in points the final period.  Vikings 10 Packers 7.

Game 8. Packers at Baltimore Colts.  For 59 1/2 minutes, Green Bay held Baltimore scoreless. Johnny Unitas threw two touchdown passes, to Willie Richardson and Alex Hawkins, and Baltimore won.  Colts 10 Packers 7.

Game 9. Cleveland Browns at Packers.  The Packers outgained the Browns 456 to 229 yards.  Green Bay recorded seven turnovers.  Ben Wilson gained 100 yards. Donnie Anderson scored four touchdowns.  Travis Williams returned two kickoffs, each over 85 yards for touchdowns.  Cleveland finished at 9-5.  This 55 to 7 win over the Browns was the biggest one in the Packers’ season.

As indicated, the Green Bay Packers clinched the Central Division title after the 12th Week

Game 13.  Packers at Los Angeles Rams.  This was on a Saturday afternoon. The lead changed hands several times and was one of the greatest national telecasts in history-at least for a regular season game.  The Rams sacked Bart Starr six times.   With 30 seconds remaining, two Rams blocked Donny Anderson’s punt. DB Willie Daniel returned it to the Packer five.  Roman Gabriel threw a pass to Bernie Casey.  Rams 27 Packers 24.

Game 15. Pittsburgh Steelers at Packers.  The Steelers got five turnovers and had a their longest drive of the season.  On the third play of the game, two Pittsburgh defensive lineman put on one act of of their show.  Chuck Hinton tipped a pass from Bart Starr.  Ben McGee caught the deflection and went 20 yards for a touchdown.  In the second quarter, Steeler quarterback Kent Nix threw for a 21 yard gain from from his own nine to Earl Gros. Gros capped the drive with a 21 touchdown run.  McGee and Hinton combined for another defensive touchdown in the fourth quarter.  Ben McGee rushed quarterback Zeke Brakowski, causing a fumble.  Chuck Hinton picked up the ball and ran 40 yards for a touchdown.  Steelers 24 Packers 17.

The Packers final post season under Vince Lombardi will come later.


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