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July 07, 2011
Green Bay's formula was painfully simple: Push the Giants around, and don't let them anywhere near the goal line
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July 07, 2011

Blunt Force Decision

Green Bay's formula was painfully simple: Push the Giants around, and don't let them anywhere near the goal line

From SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, January 8, 1962

VINCENT LOMBARDI IS A DIRECT MAN who professes a dislike for subtleties. His Packers beat the New York Giants 37--0 in the NFL title game for a simple reason: They blocked and tackled better.

New York linebacker Sam Huff, for example, was surprised several times when Ron Kramer, Green Bay's massive and agile offensive end, came across to hit him after center Jim Ringo had already brushed him with a soft block as the play developed. This prevented Huff from swinging wide against the Packers' off-tackle plays to the strong side. From the observable violence of Kramer's blocks, they must also have bruised Huff painfully.

Kramer contributed much more than that. He broke loose to catch four passes from Bart Starr, including two touchdowns that were beautiful examples of what might be called the forceful subtlety of this team.

Starr used the same pass both times: flood right, designed to pull the middle linebacker out of position to help in handling a flood of receivers to that side. Kramer, playing close to the right tackle, blocked hard on corner linebackers Cliff Livingston and Tom Scott, whose natural reactions were to fight off the block and release him. They might have held him up had either of them suspected that he was a potential pass catcher. The flow of receivers to the right forced Huff out of the middle of the defense. The first time Green Bay tried the play, Kramer broke into the open space over the middle, caught Starr's pass and bulled over New York's safeties into the end zone.

On his second touchdown Kramer faked the same pattern over the center, then broke back to the outside. Joe Morrison covered him well, but Kramer made a lovely fake in the end zone to dislodge him, then caught a long, high pass as he delicately tiptoed along the sideline, making sure he stayed in bounds.

As well as Kramer and the other Packers played, it was Paul Hornung, a stubborn, inventive runner, who lifted the team. He throws well on the running pass, is a sure-handed pass catcher and may be the most effective blocking back in the league. He is also an accurate long-distance field goal kicker. (He kicked three in this game.) But most importantly, the NFL's most valuable player inspires by his very presence. Green Bay plays appreciably better with Hornung in the lineup, no matter what his condition. With Hornung at his peak, as he was against the Giants, the Packers play much more than appreciably better.

While Green Bay's methodical, sure offense was no surprise, the strong showing of its defensive line, which gave up only 31 yards rushing, was something of a revelation. Bill Quinlan at one end was a deadly tackler against running plays; Willie Davis, at the other, was virtually unstoppable in putting pressure on the quarterbacks.

Complementing Davis's powerful rush was Henry Jordan, a balding young tackle who is light for a defensive man but compensates for that with his quickness. On the first play of the game he showed New York what it could expect. When Y.A. Tittle sent halfback Joel Wells on an abortive excursion outside the Packers' left tackle, Jordan sliced across the line of scrimmage, hit Wells before he could gain momentum and stopped him for a one-yard gain.

With Jordan and Davis pressuring quarterbacks Tittle and Charlie Conerly, and with Quinlan and Dave Hanner almost immovable against running plays, linebackers Dan Currie, Bill Forester and either Tom Bettis or Ray Nitschke and the four deep backs were free to cover the receivers.

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