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In 1958, head coach Hugh Devore was sent packing and replaced by Buck Shaw, who had coached the San Francisco 49ers from 1946 to 1954. Shaw dubbed the Silver Fox because of his silvery hair, immediately dealt Buck Lansford, Jimmy Harris, and a first-round draft choice to the Los Angeles Rams for 32-year old, nine-year veteran quarterback Norm Van Brocklin. The enigmatic Norm Van Brocklin was an extraordinary natural leader. Forty years later, his teammates still credit Van Brocklin for the 1960 championship.
It is not cold on Monday, December 26, 1960 in Philadelphia. At noon, the temperature is over 40 degrees, with a light 10-15 mile per hour wind from the southwest. The skies are clear, the weather is fair, with temperatures expected to rise to almost 50 degrees. It's a great day for football.
Green Bay enters Franklin Field as three- to six- point favorites. The line on the game is 6-5, Packers. The Eagles are used to being underdogs. They haven't been favored against the top clubs all year. Philadelphia is decked out for the spectacle as 67, 325 hopeful fans pack into the University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field.
The gross receipts tally a colossal $747, 876, including the radio and television booty. Thats the largest gross gate in NFL history up to that time. When taxes, stadium rental, and the gate operating expenses are subtracted, net receipts total $591, 454.98.
Philadelphia wins the coin toss and elects to receive. Timmy Brown, the former Packer, who is deep for the Eagles along with Ted Dean, returns Hornung's kickoff 20 yards to the Eagle 22. On the game's first play from scrimmage, Van Brocklin's swing pass is intercepted by Bill Quinlan at the 14-yard line. On the Packers' first play, Jimmy Taylor smashes five yards. The Eagles' defense then stiffens and stops Hornung and Taylor for gains of two yards and one yard, respectively. Coach Lombardi, with the ball resting on the Eagle seven, has a decision to make: either kick a field goal or go for the first down. He decides to challenge the Eagles and go for it. Taylor gained a yard, but still fell far short of a first down. The Birds take over at their own five. Barnes runs left for no gain. On the next play, Billy Ray picks up five yards with a slam into the middle. On third down, Ted Dean touches the pigskin for the first time. After slashig forward for 10 yards, Dean fumbles, and Bill Forester recovers for the Packers. Hornung and Taylor carry twice to crunch out the initial Packer first down of the afternoon. An offside penalty pushes the ball back to the 13-yard line, where Starr throws two incomplete passes. At 6:20 into the game, Hornung kicks a Packer field goal, and for the ninth time in 13 games, an Eagles opponent has scored first. When the Eagles' offensive unit takes the field again, Van Brocklin fumbles the first snap but recovers the ball. The Eagles finally get their initial first down via an interference penalty, but three plays later they're forced to punt. The first quarter closes with Green Bay on the move at the Eagles' 29-yard line. The first quarter has been all Packers. Green Bay ran 21 plays to the Eagles' 14. Furthermore, Philadelphia's offense has been bumbling. In their first five plays from scrimmage, Philadelphia threw one interception and fumbled twice. Van Brocklin's first-quarter ledger shows but one completion- to Bobby Walston, his target on four of five passing attempts. The Packers have operated inside the Eagles' 30-yard line on three of their four first-quarter possesions. Despite such lopsided data, the Eagles trail by only three. As the second quarter gets underway, Green Bay punches down to the Eagles' 14-yard line, where the drive stalls on three successive imcomplete passes. The Packers are forced to settle for another Paul Hornung field goal-this time from 23 yards away. Green Bays advantage climbs to 6-0. The Eagles ensuing drive sputters, this time after five plays. One of Van Brocklin's passes is batted back into his own hands. He grabs the swatted football and tosses it a second time. Again it falls incomplete. The play characterizes the Birds' offensive frustration. The Eagles and Packers exchange punts before the Eagles take over at the Packer 43. Thus far, the longest drive the Birds have been able to muster is 20 yards. In seven attempts, Van Brocklin has completed only two passes, both to Walston. In fact, five of his seven passes have been flipped Walston's way. Now, the Dutchman looks to McDonald. First, he completes a 22-yarder to Tommy before coming right back with a 35-yard scoring strike to the Eagle flanker.
Walston's extra point moments later puts Philadelphia out front 7-6. On their next possesion, the stunned Packers stall after three downs. McGee punts, and the Birds take over on their own 26. Again, on first down, Dutch fires long, this time to Retzlaff for 41 yards.
Van Brocklin follows this toss with a pass to Dean for 22 yards, which moves the ball to the Packer 8. Dutch follows with three succesive misfires into the end zone, however, and Philadelphia walks away with a 3-pointer from Walston to extend their lead to 10-6.
With little more than three minutes remaining in the first half, the Packers drive 73 yards from their own 20-yard line to the Eagles' 7. On the final play of the half, the Packers suffer a huge letdown as Hornung misses a 13-yard field goal. Philadelphia leads 10-6 at the end of the first half, despite Green Bay's advantage in practically every statistic. Green Bay has run 48 plays to the Eagles' 30. The Eagles have picked up three first downs, compared to nine for the Pack. The difference in the game has been Van Brocklin's three long completions-two to McDonald and one to Retzlaff-along with obstinate Eagle line play on both sides of the ball and the Packers' inability to convert opportunities into points. Ted Dean kicks off for Philadelphia to start the second half. The Packers advance from their 32 to their 47 before having to punt. The Eagles receive, only to go three downs and out from their own 15-yard line. When the Packers get the ball again, they pound the Eagles for two straight first downs. Hornung grinds out 14 yards, followed by a 16-yard Jim Taylor fumble. The Packers stick to the ground for three more plays. Then, on fourth and one at the Philadelphia 25, Lombardi again decides to go for a first down instead of kicking a field goal. Taylor pounds the center of the Eagle line, and again is stopped short. Just as important, however, on the preceding play, Paul Hornung is injured and forced to leave the game. Chuck Bednarik makes the hit-a clean shot-that puts Hornung out of action. Hornung leaves the field and sees no further action in the game except for kicking an extra point and kicking off one time. Juiced up by their second successful, critical fourth-down stand of the contest, the Birds charge back. A third-down, 33-yard pass to McDonald, a couple of runs by Barnes and Dean, and a 25-yard completion to Walston place the ball on the Packer 5-yard line. On second down, however, from the Packer 4 yard line, Philadelphia's hopes deflate when Van Brocklin's pass is picked off by John Symank in the end zone. The Pack takes over and moves the ball to their 35 before floundering. Max McGee drops back to punt, but instead fakes the boot and bounds downfield. He is stopped 35 yards later by a Ted Dean shoe-string tackle. The embarrassed Birds stiffen up, and Brookshier slams Tom Moore, Hornung's backfield replacement, for a 6-yard loss. Two plays later, however, Starr completes a 17-yard pass for a first down to Gary Knafelc. The Packers are at the Eagle 34 as the third quarter ends. Again statistically, the Packers dominate. In the third quarter, Green Bay ran off 19 plays, while the Eagles only managed 13. Uncharacteristically in this quarter, it is Philadelphia who makes the big mistake when they turn the ball over to Green Bay at Green Bay's 4-yard line to come up empty-handed after a nifty 71-yard drive. Van Brocklin completes only two of six passes in the third stanza, which ends with the Eagles still clinging to a precarious 10-6 lead. The Packers start the fourth quarter with Tom Moore's 12-yard smash for a first down. Taylor and Moore carry successively for another first down, which places the ball at the Eagle 10-yard line. After Taylor's 3-yard spurt, Bart Starr finds Max McGee in the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown and a Packer lead. The Packers burst ahead, 13-10, as Hornung converts the PAT. The stage is set for the key play of the game. Hornung kicks off to Ted Dean, who takes the ball at the 3-yard line and hauls it back 58 yards to the Packer 39. When the Eagles take over, Dean and Barnes each gain six for a first down. Van Brocklin is sacked for a seven-yard loss;however, he follows with a 13-yard pass to Barnes.
Then, on third and one, Barnes answers with a five-yard, first-down scamper. After Barnes' first down, it's Ted Dean's turn. Van Brocklin calls Dean's number for a 4-yard gain, which advances the ball from the 9-yard line to the 5. On second down, Dean sweeps left around end behind Gerry Huth for a score.
After the Eagles' score, Green Bay starts at their own 30 and crunches out a first down on three rushes. Then Bart Starr finds Max McGee for what should be a 12-yard gain and a first down. But Tom Brookshire jars the ball loose with a big hit, and Chuck Bednarik recovers the fumble on the Eagle 48. The Eagles run three straight times, but Dean is stopped short of a first down, and Van Brocklin has to punt.
The Eagles defense thwarts the Packers, and McGee punts the ball back to the Birds. Again the Eagles stick to the ground. This time, Billy Barnes is stopped short on a third-and-one plunge. Time is ticking out as Van Brocklin's 48-yard punt is returned six yards to the Packer 35. Battling the clock, Bart Starr completes two passes to his backs, Taylor and Moore. On third down, Taylor rips for a first down, going out of bounds after a nine-yard sprint. Starr sandwiches completions to Knafelc-one for 17 yards, the other for 8-around an incomplete pass intended for Dowler. With only 12 seconds left, Starr flips a pass to Jim Taylor, who catches it and is met first by Bobby Jackson and then by Bednarik.
Concrete Charley crunches Taylor to the turf, and then sits on the Packers' frustrated superstar, who lies squirming and struggling to get to his feet. The mini-drama continues, the seconds tick off, and the game ends at the Eagle 9-yard line. As the gun goes off, the final score reads: Eagles 17-Packers 13. Number 60 and Bobby Jackson, number 28, are jumping for joy as Franklin Field erupts. The fans swarm the field, and the Eagles along with their faithful strut off in victory.
It's another great day for the Philadelphia Eagles, and it's another Philadelphia Eagles' victory that flies in the face of statistics. The Packers outgain the Eagles, 401 yards to 296. Green Bay chugs for 14 first downs rushing: the Eagles for five. Green Bay passes for eight first downs; the Eagles for six. Jim Taylor gains 105 yards on 24 carries to spearhead a 223-yard Green Bay rushing assault. But a season of success has convinced the Eagles that statistics are misleading. They're tired of hearing how good their opponents are. In postgame interviews, Philadelphia's new champions release some pent-up frustration. Van Brocklin says: 'I hope this doesn't sound like sour grapes, but I thought they (the Packers) were going to be a better team than they showed us. Defensively, Green Bay offered no surprises. They red-dogged a couple of times early, and they quit. Jesse Richardson plows headlong into the tedious topic of being lucky, telling reporters: "So we're supposed to be lucky? This time the other club sure had more opportunities than we did. They're no fantastic superclub. They play good fundamental football, but they don't have the home run, the long ball. We do."."
Van Brocklin, voted the game's Most Valuable Player, receives a Chevrolet Corvette. The Dutchman already owns a Ford Thunderbird. He'll be the sportiest "old man" in Philly. Dutch is also the guy that Green Bay touts as the Eagles' MVP, although a bit mechanically. Green Bay feels they should have won, and Dutch is the reason they didn't.
The contest marked the first title game appearance by the Packers in 16 years and, remarkably, became the only playoff loss ever suffered by their legendary coach, Vince Lombardi.
Scoring Summary
G.B. - FG Hornung 20
G.B. - FG Hornung 23
Phil. - McDonald 35 pass from Van Brocklin (Walston kick)
Phil. - FG Walston 15
G.B. - McGee 7 pass from Starr (Hornung kick)
Phil. - Dean 5 run (Walston kick)
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