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Tex Maule
December 04, 1961
The New York Giants meet the Green Bay Packers this weekend; the two conference leaders, judging from their last strong victories, may play again on December 31—for the pro title
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December 04, 1961

Battle Of Football's Best: The Bold Giants Vs. The Solid Packers

The New York Giants meet the Green Bay Packers this weekend; the two conference leaders, judging from their last strong victories, may play again on December 31—for the pro title

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Tittle called what might best be termed an audacious game and called it so well that almost every time the Giants got possession of the ball in the second half they scored. He picked precisely the moment to call an option pass play with Gaiters throwing; this was in the third quarter, with the Giants leading 20-14 and the outcome of the game still very much in doubt.

On the Giants' preceding series, Gaiters had fumbled the ball to Cleveland on the Giant 22; the Giant defense took the ball back four downs later on the Giant 31. Tittle tested Cleveland's defense by sending Webster up the middle for four yards, checking to make sure they were still keying on Alex. Then he hit Shofner on the sideline for 15 more, taking advantage of the Browns' man-on-man coverage.

With first and 10 on the 50, Tittle called the Gaiters pass. The rookie back had thrown twice this season, both times for touchdowns. Now he took the ball from Tittle, swung wide to his right behind a thin screen of blockers, then stopped and lobbed a wobbly pass back across the field to Webster, who stood alone on the Brown 30. Webster had to wait for the ball, giving the Cleveland defense time to recover, or the play might have gone for a touchdown. As it was, it set up the touchdown that put the Giants out of reach. Again Tittle made an unusual call on the touchdown play. He sent Gaiters wide again from the Brown 11-yard line. The Cleveland defenders, wary of another pass, dropped off too far, and Gaiters, cutting beautifully, went in for the touchdown.

The game Starr called for the Packers to beat Detroit 17-9 was not as daring. He was handicapped by the rain and the poor footing, and although he is a quarterback who appreciates very well his team's strong running, he is not as apt to gamble as is Tittle. Starr smashed away methodically at the Detroit Lion line with Taylor and with Hornung. When the Lions pulled in to stop the running, he threw capably, and once fooled the Lions with a long pass to Max McGee that set up the first Packer touchdown.

The first Packer touchdown came on an 80-yard march, the second on a 60-yard drive. In each case, the Packers kept moving principally on the running of Taylor and Hornung, with enough passing interspersed to take advantage of an overcommitted defense. Starr, as he has all year, used the play pass deftly. This is a maneuver that develops off what is ostensibly a run, and it is peculiarly well fitted to the Green Bay offense. To set up the second Packer touchdown, Starr faked to Taylor into the line on the Lion 26, then flipped a 22-yard pass to the Detroit four. Both Packer touchdowns, incidentally, were scored by Taylor from the one-yard line on pure power plays.

Offensively, then, if either team has an edge, it may be the Giants on Tittle's margin of experience. Should both of the front-line quarterbacks be injured, again the edge would go to the Giants with Charlie Conerly, who is a more experienced tactician than Green Bay's King Hill.

Defensively, the two teams are evenly matched. This makes sense since in pro football there is very little variation in the defenses of teams with sound personnel—and there are no sounder defensive squads than the Giants' or the Packers'. Neither New York nor Green Bay is much given to the bewildering complexity of defenses that mark a team like the Chicago Bears. Neither team has to rely on stunts.

The Giant defense, which has played together as a unit longer, probably adjusts better during a game to any surprises an opposing team springs on them. They had to do little adjusting against Cleveland; although Paul Brown has varied his offense more this year than in previous seasons, most of it was still as familiar as ever to the Giant defenders.

"They try to beat you on execution," Sam Huff said. "They didn't do anything we hadn't seen before."

The Browns tried, tentatively, to advance through the middle of the Giant line two or three times, but gave that up very soon when they discovered that the two Giant tackles—Dick Modzelewski and Roosevelt Grier—closed the middle very effectively. For a while during the first half, the Brown running attack was based almost entirely on trying to sweep the Giants' ends.

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