1965 NFL Championship Game — Packers and Browns


By Ron Griffitts

Contributing columnist

On Jan. 2, 1966 the defending NFL champion Cleveland Browns (11-4) coached by Blanton Collier, traveled to historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay to take on the Packers (12-3-1) and their legendary coach Vince Lombardi.

The Browns were led on offense by quarterback Frank Ryan (1751 yds, 18 tds), running backs Jim Brown (1544 yds, 17 tds ) and Ernie Green (436 yds, 2 tds) and receivers Gary Collins (884 yds, 10 tds), Jim Brown (329, 4 tds), Walter Roberts (314 yds, 4 yds) and Ernie Green (298 yds, 2 tds).

Forty-one year old Lou Groza was their place kicker and converted on 16 of 25 field goal attempts.

Bill Glass with 16.5 sacks, Dick Modzelewski with 7.5 and Larry Benz with 5 interceptions and Bernie Parrish and Ross Fitchner with four each led the defense.

The Packers were led on offense by quarterback Bart Starr (2055 yds, 16 tds), running backs Jim Taylor (734 yds, 4 tds), Paul Hornung (299 yds, 5 tds) and receivers Boyd Dowler (610 yds, 4 tds), Carroll Dale (382 yds, 2 tds), Bob Long (304 yds, 4 tds) and Paul Hornung (336 yds, 4 tds).

Don Chandler was their place kicker and made 17 of 26 field goal tries. Their defense was led by Willie Davis with 11 sacks and Lionel Aldridge with 10 and Herb Adderley and Willie Wood who each had six interceptions.

The Packers featured running backs Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung in the famous Lombardi power sweep.

The key for the Packers was to control Cleveland running back Jim Brown as they felt if they could contain him, they could win the game and to do this had their All Pro middle linebacker Ray Nitschke cover Brown on every play.

It snowed in Green Bay the day before and although the field had been covered, there was still snow on the ground which as the game progressed turned into mud making any passing game difficult for the Browns.

The Browns led after the first quarter 9-7 on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Frank Ryan to Gary Collins. But due to a wet ball, they missed the extra point. Lou Groza added a 24-yard field goal and Green Bay scored on a 47-yard pass play from Bart Starr to Carroll Dale.

In the second quarter, Green Bay added two field goals by Don Chandler from 15 and 23 yards and Groza kicked one for Cleveland from 28 yards out and the Pack led 13-12 at halftime.

The second half was a battle of ball control as on the slippery field and with fog having rolled into Green Bay, the running game took control as Paul Hornung scored on a 13-yard run making the score 20-12 after three quarters.

The closest the Browns came to scoring was on a 27-yard pass from Ryan to Jim Brown in the end zone with Nitschke knocking the ball away at the last second. Don Chandler added a 29-yard field goal and the Packers won 23-12.

Jim Taylor got the Sport Magazine MVP award and the new corvette and for the Browns it would be the end of era as at 29 years of age Jim Brown, having led the league in rushing with 1544 yards and 17 touchdowns and having been voted the league MVP for the third time, retired.

Lombardi’s strategy had worked as Brown rushed for only 50 yards while Hornung had 105 and Jim Taylor had 96.

The Packers would be back in the NFL title game and the Super Bowl the next year but the Browns who appeared in and lost the 1986, 87 and 89 AFC championship games, have not made a Super Bowl appearance. Although the team which was the original Browns, the Baltimore Ravens, has.

Statistics for this article were from pro-football-reference.com and YouTube.com.

No posts to display