From SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, January 7, 1963
THEY CAME BUNDLED IN PARKAS AND greatcoats and blankets, and most of the crowd of 64,892 yelled "Beat Green Bay!" through the frosty afternoon. But in the end, making their way through the early dark and the swirling wind to the subway, they accepted a sad truth: This was still not the year.
For the truth, to New Yorkers, was just as bitter as the weather and just as evident: The Green Bay Packers are a better football team than the New York Giants. They won the NFL championship on a field better suited to ice hockey than to football. The atrocious conditions, however, had nothing much to do with the 16--7 score. In balmier weather the Packers might have won by a far healthier margin.
This New York team played superb football, but it made three mistakes. The first, an intercepted pass, almost resulted in a field goal. The next, a fumble in the second quarter, eventually led to Green Bay's only touchdown of the ball game, a beautiful run by fullback Jim Taylor, who stepped over and through a clutter of Giants to score from the seven standing up. Another fumble in the third quarter was converted by the Packers into a field goal. Green Bay, of course, played superb football too, and it was guilty of only one egregious error—allowing a blocked kick that gave New York its lone score of the day.
The teams entered the game with oddly different attitudes. The Giants, still sensitive to the humiliation of their 37--0 defeat in Green Bay last year, played with fiery determination. The Packers, who went through the last three weeks of the season a tired, sleepwalking team, only began to come alive in the last four workouts before the title game. But by the time they took the bus from the Hotel Manhattan to Yankee Stadium for the showdown, they were imbued with a furious professional determination to prove that the licking they had given New York a year ago was no fluke. "We're a better ball club," said Hank Gremminger, one of Green Bay's safeties, before the game. "We're tired of reading about how they had an off day against us."
The Packers' offense, however, was changed radically by the weather. Bart Starr, who must be the most underrated quarterback in football, had looked forward to a wide-open, gambling game. "But you couldn't in this weather. You couldn't take chances in that wind," he said. "You couldn't throw long, because you weren't sure where the ball would go." And so the Green Bay offense ran the ball and kicked three field goals, the last with less than two minutes left to provide the final score.
For all the troubles the Packers had with the weather, the Giants had more. The gusty, fitful winds took away one of the big guns of the New York attack—the long pass from quarterback Y.A. Tittle to Del Shofner. After the Giants had moved down to the Green Bay 16 on one of their three offensive penetrations of the Packers' 20-yard line, Green Bay's Ray Nitschke, who recovered two fumbles and would be named the game's most valuable player, came in hard from his middle linebacker position to harass Tittle; Nitschke lifted an arm and deflected a pass that was picked off by Dan Currie, the Packers' left linebacker. Currie, slowed by a left-knee injury, made it to the Green Bay 40-yard-line before falling to the ground.
The Giants' offense has not, in two title games now, scored on the Green Bay defense. The seven points New York got on Sunday were scored by its punt return unit. Erich Barnes, a quick defensive back, rushed in from the left side of the line to block a kick by Max McGee. It was recovered for a touchdown by the Giants' Jim Collier, who performs only on special units.
Partly because of the weather and often because New York coach Allie Sherman and his players wanted to prove they could whip the Packers where the Packers are best, the Giants ran against the right side of Green Bay's line—Henry Jordan at tackle and Bill Quinlan at end. New York seemed to be taking a leaf from Packers coach Vince Lombardi's book—"Beat your opponent where he is strongest and you demoralize him"—but the Giants did not succeed. Jordan and Quinlan played heroically, and the Green Bay linebackers, Nitschke, Currie and Bill Forester, were, as they've been all year, the best in the league.
New York's offensive backfield coach, Kyle Rote, pointed that out. "The Packers won because they have a fine offense and a great line," he said. "But most of all, they have three magnificent linebackers. When Tittle seemed to have them committed in one direction, they still were able to adjust and come back to break up the play."