1963 Packers-What Stopped the Champs

The Green Bay Packers in 1963 finished in second place in the NFL West, one half game behind the first place Chicago Bears.  The Bears were 11-1-2 to the Packers 11-2-1.  The Bears  beat the Packers twice getting continual turnovers in both games.  Chicago won 10 to 3 in the first week at Green Bay; and in week 10 at Wrigley Field 26 to 7.  In both games, Chicago was clearly the better club.  Even so, two ties turned victory for two teams would have given Green Bay the title.   The first game involved the Pittsburgh Steelers and the other the Packers themselves.

Week 10 Chicago (9-1 ) at Pittsburgh (6-3-1)

Fresh from their second win over Green Bay, Chicago came into Pittsburgh.  Though clearly biased, I believe the Steelers should have won this game easily.  The first half ended in a 14 to 14 tie.  I will never forget  the two Steeler scores.  Dick Hoak went over left tackle;  the offensive line blew the Bears away for a six yard touchdown run.  Ed Brown threw a 31 yard touchdown pass to Roy Curry for for second score.   The first tied the game at seven; the second tied the game at 14.

The Steelers dominated the third quarter with two drives but came away empty handed.  Lou Micheals missed  field goals of 32 the 28 yards.  Very disappointing.  In the fourth quarter quarterback Ed Brown passed to Dick Hoak for a 10 yard touchdown.  Missed again. The officials incorrectly blew the play dead at the seven.  The Steelers settled for a field goal and 17 to 14 lead.  By now, it should have been 27 to 14.

Now came the killer from the Bears. Tight End Mike Ditka made great play for his hometown fans. Ditka played at the University of Pittsburgh.  Deep in Bear territory, he took a flair pass and went about five yards.  Three Steelers hit him at once.  With a great effort,  Big Mike threw off all three men and went downfield.  He gradually slowed and Clendon Thomas tackled him at the  Steeler 10.  Although Ditka made  a tremendous play, more Steelers should have rushed to the scene.  The Steelers held and the Bears kicked a field goal.

The game ended in a 17 all tie.  Pittsburgh gave this game away, hurting themselves and the Packers.

Week 12 Green Bay Packers (9-2) at the Detroit Lions  (4-7-1) Thanksgiving Day – a 13 to 13 tie.

This was the last of the Thanksgiving Day games between the two teams.  Vince Lombardi said it too difficult to prepare his team in three days.  Starting in 1964, visitors took their turn for this game.  Neither team ran for significant yardage in 63.  Jim Taylor gained only 28 yards and the Packers put up only 31 yards rushing.  Hats off to the Detroit L:ions.  Their resiliency in the last seconds of both halfs caused a tie and basically ended the Packers hopes for a championship.  The team had nagging injuries all year and this was a Super effort.  Wayne Walker booted his second field goal, a 37 yarder, on the last play of the first half. Running Back Nick Pietrosante capped a tying touchdown drive with 30 seconds left.

Nevertheless, the Green Bay Packers should have won.  Placekicker Jerry Kramer missed an extra point and two chip shot field.  Had the Steelers and Packers won, Green Bay would have bettered Chicago; 12-2 to 11-2-1.

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