Packers Rewind: '65 Champs Were Out-Statted
By Jay Sorgi
Next game: Saturday, August 15th vs. Cleveland
When you think Packers-Browns in the context of Packers history, you probably go back to the 1965 NFL Championship game played in the mud which the Packers won, 23-12.
But the '65 Packers, in many ways, had no business even making that championship game, let alone winning it.
The first reason involved this team's regular season futility in a number of areas, including the fact that opponents actually outgained the Packers over the season (3,969 yards given up, 3,601 gained).
Only one championship team since, the 2001 Patriots, can say that.
• 10/24/65: 13-3 win vs. Dallas at Milwaukee
• 10/31/65: 31-10 loss at Chicago
• 11/7/65: 12-7 loss vs. Detroit
• 11/14/65: 6-3 win vs. Los Angeles at Milwaukee
Where this team excelled was in two categories.
One: causing turnovers.
The team had an amazing plus-24 advantage, picking off 27 passes per game and snagging 23 fumbles, and changing many games with how they could put up their own points.
"We really developed the attitude that if the offense struggled, we just might have to make the difference," said Hall of Fame Defensive End Willie Davis in a recent interview.
"We played every game believing that if the offense did not get a winnable number of points on the board, we would do whatever was necessary to get us on the big end of the score."
The other: the category of comebacks.
Half of the Packers' 1965 wins came in cardiac fashion.
Five came where the team produced the go-ahead score in the later part of regulation or overtime. Four of those were of the regular season variety:
The other was an 18-point second-half comeback with three third-quarter Bart Starr touchdown passes and a Starr fourth-quarter scoring run against the Lions to produce a 31-21 victory on October 17th.
'65 Western Playoff: Wide Right?
But even with that, many believe the Packers had no right to play in the '65 championship game, an opinion mainly from Colts fans who thought the 1965 Western Conference Playoff shouldn't have gone to overtime.
That's because a Don Chandler game-tying 25-yard field goal in the final two minutes should never have counted, at least in Baltimore lovers' minds.
The Colts and their followers to this day feel that field goal should have been ruled wide right.
In fact, at a banquet after the season, Colts running back Tom Matte gave Vince Lombardi a cake with a goalpost that extends far to the right.
But despite their protests, history sided with Green Bay, and Chandler made a 25-yard overtime field goal, right down the middle, to produce a 13-10 victory to send the team to the NFL title game.
One week later at Lambeau Field, the Packers used 201 rushing yards by Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung - 13 on a key second-half scoring run - as the Packers steamrolled the Browns 23-12 to earn their first of a record three consecutive world championships.