Thursday, July 1, 2010
Best Packers Team Ever: 1962
By Kevin Seifert
Notable players: Fullback Jim Taylor, right tackle Forrest Gregg, quarterback Bart Starr, linebacker Ray Nitschke, cornerback Herb Adderley, defensive end Willie Davis, center Jim Ringo, halfback Paul Hornung, safety Willie Wood, defensive tackle Henry Jordan.
In their 49-0 win over the Eagles, Jim Taylor and the Packers gained a total of 628 yards.
Analysis: There are notable players, and then there are the best of the very best. All 10 players listed above have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In other words, nearly half of the Green Bay Packers' 1962 regular lineup were among the best of their era. That type of talent collection could never be replicated in today's era of superstar contracts.
Under Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi, this Packers team shut out two of its first three opponents and won its first four games by a combined score of 109-14. It went on to finish the season 13-1, leading the NFL in both points scored and fewest points allowed, and won the league championship with a 16-7 victory over the New York Giants. There hasn't been another one-loss season in Green Bay ever since.
The Packers have won 12 titles in their history, including five under Lombardi, but the 1962 team was a powerhouse unto itself. If you've read David Maraniss' biography of Lombardi, you understand why: This edition of the Packers recorded a pair of 49-0 victories and set an NFL record for highest average point differential in its games (19.1 points). Here are some other notable marks:
In the second 49-0 drubbing, this one at Philadelphia, the Packers gained -- yes -- 574 more yards than the Eagles (628-54).
The 49-0 victories are the two biggest shutouts in team history.
The 1962 Packers scored 53 touchdowns, the second-most in team history despite a 14-game season at the time. Its 36 rushing touchdowns remain an NFL record.
The defense led the NFL with interceptions (31) and fewest passing yards allowed (2,084).
The season's running performance was the grist for Lombardi's epic "Run To Daylight" with Bill Heinz. While Hornung is often remembered as the Packers' top back, in 1962, Taylor led the team with 1,474 yards and an amazing 19 touchdowns.
The Giants were hell-bent on revenge in the championship game, having lost to the Packers 37-0 the year before. The game was in New York, but the Packers controlled the game throughout in 17-degree weather at Yankee Stadium. The Giants' only score came on a blocked punt. (Check out this NFL Films video on that game. Cool stuff.)
Most impressive win: It's hard to overlook an NFL title game, but beating any team 49-0 and outgaining it by 574 yards is a stunning demonstration of dominance.
Did you know? Nitschke was the MVP of the championship game but might have had a bigger impact on the league a few hours after the game. As the story goes, Nitschke appeared on the television show "What's My Line?" wearing his trademark black rimmed glasses. A film producer named Ed Sabol bought the rights to that appearance for $3,000. Sabol's company eventually became known as NFL Films.
1966: Won Super Bowl I after finishing the regular season 12-2. Its two losses, to San Francisco and Minnesota, came by a total of four points.
1996: Led the NFL in points scored and fewest points allowed, the only team to do so in the past 36 years, and won Super Bowl XXXI.
1929: Clinched the Packers' first NFL Championship, this one based on final standings, with an undefeated record (12-0-1).