If anyone tells you I said this I will deny it. Cleveland was the most hated team for rooters of both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles. The rivalry between the New York Giants and the Browns attracted the most attention for many fans. At one point, the Giants won six in a row. Three in 1958 which counts the playoffs; two in 1959; and the first game in 1960.
On the last weekend of the 1961 season, I was hoping that the Cleveland Browns would defeat the New York Giants. Around mid-season, the Giants defeated the Browns at Cleveland 37 to 21. The Eagles were 9-4 and the Giants 10-3 after 13 games. After a 7-1 start, the Eagles lost three of five. The Giants defeated us twice with Y.A Tittle torching the Eagles secondary, 38 to 21 at Yankee Stadium and 28 to 24 at Franklin Field . The Eagles at Cleveland-Jimmy Brown set an NFL record rushing for 245 yards with four touchdowns. Milt Plum completed 16 of 21 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown. Cleveland put up 505 yards defeating the Eagles 45 to 24.
Week 14. The only hope for the Eagles was winning at Detroit and the Giants losing at Yankee Stadium versus the Browns. This would set up an Eastern Conference Playoff the following week between New York and Philadelphia. Since the Giants defeated the Eagles twice during the season, the game would be at Yankee Stadium. More Later.
The New York Giants finished the season at 10-3-1 and the Philadelphia Eagles were 10-4, 1/2 game behind. Freezing other variables, a Week 2 game at Pittsburgh between the Steelers and the Giants really hurt both Pennsylvania teams. The Giant offense was phasing in Y. A. Title as the first string quarterback but 42 year old Charlie Conerly still had significant playing time.
Now for the game. The Steelers scored first as John Henry Johnson capped a drive with a three yard zip. Steelers 7 Giants 0. Then came the most damaging play of the entire season for Pittsburgh. A second drive in the first quarter stalled at the NY 35 yard line. The Steelers were attempting a 42 field goal with Tom Tracy holding for Lou Micheals. Tracy spotted the ball then picked it up which totally confused the Giants. Tracy threw on the option play to John Henry Johnson, who was standing all alone at the 20 yard line. The pass was right between his numbers and he dropped the ball. I believe he could have crawled into the End Zone.
A 14 to 0 lead might have opened in flood gates for Pittsburgh; quite the contrary it invigorated New York and this below took place.
Chuck Conerly threw a touchdown pass to Joe Morrison;
Y. A Title threw a touchdown pass to Del Shofner;
Pat Summeral kicked a 19 yard field goal
Erich Barnes had two interceptions off Bobby Lane
John Henry Johnson opened the scoring with a four yard touchdown run;
Buddy Dial caught an 11 yard touchdown pass
Trailing 17 to 14, Pittsburgh had the ball at the Giants 25. Jim Katcavage hit Layne on a pass play. Andy Robustelli recovered.
Had the Steelers won, the Eagles would have won the division 10-4 to the Giants 9-4-1