The 1959 NFL Championship Game — Giants and Colts


By Ron Griffitts

Contributing columnist

On Dec. 27, 1959 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore in front of 57, 545 fans, the New York Giants 10-2 coached by Jim Lee Howell with assistants Tom Landry and Allie Sherman, who took over for Vince Lombardi after Lombardi accepted the Green Bay Packers’ head coaching position, met the Baltimore Colts 9-3 coached by Weeb Ewbank with assistants Herman Ball, Don McCafferty and Charley Winner and whose principal owner was Carroll Rosenbloom, in a rematch of the previous year’s title game.

The Giants were led on offense by quarterbacks Charley Conerley (1706 TDS, 6 TDS) and Don Heinrich (329 YDS, 1 TD), running backs Frank Gifford (540 YDS, 3 TDS), Mel Triplett (381 YDS, 1 TD), Alex Webster (250 YDS, 5 TDS) and Phil King (232 YDS) and receivers Frank Gifford (768 YDS, 4 TDS), Bob Schnelker (714 YDS, 6 TDS), Alex Webster (381 YDS, 2 TDS), and Kyle Rote (362 YDS, 4 TDS).

Their place kicker was Pat Summerall who made 20 of 29 field goal attempts.

They were led on defense by Lindon Crow, Dick Nolan and Jimmy Patton who each had five interceptions.

The Colts were led on offense by quarterback Johnny Unitas (2899 YDs, 32 TDS), running backs Alan Ameche ( 679 YDS, 7 TDS), Lenny Moore (422 YDS, 2 TDS) and receivers Lenny Moore (846 YDS, 6 TDS), Raymond Berry ( 959 YDs, 14 TDS) and Jim Mutscheller ( 699 YDS, 8 TDS).

Their kicker was Steve Myhra who converted on 6 of 17 field goal tries and on defense they were led by Milt Davis and Don Shinnick with seven interceptions, Andy Nelson with six and Ray Brown and Dick Szymanski with five.

The first score of the game was on a 60-yard pass play from Johnny Unitas to Lenny Moore and the Colts took a 7-0 lead. Pat Summerall got the Giants on the board with a 23-yard field goal and the Colts led 7-3 after the first quarter.

The only scoring in the second quarter was another Pat Summerall field goal, this time from 37 yards out, and the halftime score was 7-6 in the Colts favor.

Pat Summerall continued his kicking prowess in the third quarter with another field goal, this time from 22 yards out and the Giants had the lead after three quarters, 9-7

But that lead was short lived. In the fourth quarter, Johnny Unitas took charge of the game and scored on a four-yard run and a twelve-yard pass play to Jerry Richardson to give Baltimore a 21-9 lead.

The Colts then got a turnover as Johnny Sample intercepted a pass and returned it 42 yards for a score and Steve Myhra kicked a 25-yard field goal to give the Colts four scoring drives in a row to put the game out of reach for the Giants.

New York got its first touchdown of the game on a 32-yard pass play from Charley Conerley to Bob Schnelker to make the final score 31-16.

The Giants returned to the NFL Championship game in 1961 against Green Bay while the Baltimore Colts were back in 1964 against the Cleveland Browns.

Baltimore assistant coach Don McCafferty went on to coach the Colts to a Super Bowl victory in 1970.

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