Lombardi To Roll Over in Grave over Impending Packers-Cowboys Shootout...Wait, He Coached One!
By By Jay Sorgi
Next game: Sunday, September 21 vs. Dallas
We're four days away from what promises to be one of the great shootouts in recent NFL annals when Aaron Rodgers, the deepest receiving corps in the NFL and the first-place Packers host Tony Romo, Terrell Owens and the more-than-a-point-a-minute Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field on a night where they may need to borrow the air traffic controller from Austin Straubel Airport.
Cue the references to Lynn Dickey to Lofton and JJ back in the early '80s.
Cue the comparisons to Marino to the Marks Brothers (Clayton and Duper).
Cue the recollections of Dan Fouts and the SuperChargers of the 80's.
Cue the days of Lombardi and Starr chucking it up and down the field....
....wait. Lombardi and Starr chucking it up and down the field?
When did that happen?
In one of the great NFL championship game against the Cowboys.
You mean the Ice Bowl? The game with the interminably long, mainly boring defensive struggle with Bart Starr getting sacked eight times and an impotent Cowboys offense doing nothing except an option pass?
The game played 364 days before, in bright sunshine and warmth at the Cotton Bowl, the home of the Texas State Fair.
Bart Starr and the Tom Landry-designed Cowboys "offense of the future" dueled in a very un-Run-To-Daylight shootout to decide the NFL's representative in Super Bowl I.
It's a game that gets lost in the frozen shuffle when compared to the Ice Bowl, but a game that might have been just as entertaining.
It was actually a season where Starr's backfield arsenal wasn't as strong as the halcyon days of Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor. Both had the worst seasons of their careers under Lombardi.
But Starr was spectacular that year. For every interception he threw, he delivered three touchdown passes of longer than 40 yards.
(Very Aaron Rodgers-like, I must say.)
With a team that had no Pro Bowl receivers, Starr absolutely deserved the league MVP.
Still, he brought his best performance into that championship game, one where the 1st and 4th ranked defenses in the NFL didn't play anywhere near that caliber.
Bart's Finest Day
Starr threw for 304 yards and four touchdown passes, each to different receivers, a feat only accomplished once in league championship game or Super Bowl history. (Super Bowl XXIX: Steve Young, six TD passes to four receivers.)
The Packers never trailed in the game, but somewhat similar to the Cowboys' win over the Eagles Monday night, it was back-and-forth the whole way.
Green Bay scored the first 14 points (on a Starr-to-Elijah Pitts touchdown pass and a Jim Grabowski fumble return on the ensuing kickoff) before the Cowboys' offense ever touched the football.
But Dallas responded with 14 points of their own in the first quarter thanks to the running of Don Perkins and Dan Reeves, and they tied it it before the second quarter began.
That's when wide receiver Carroll Dale burned a Cowboys defender for 51 yards on a Starr bomb to give the Packers back a lead they wouldn't relinquish, though the game was in doubt the whole way.
The Cowboys produced two second quarter field goals before a Starr-to-Boyd Dowler touchdown pass in the third quarter gave Green Bay a 28-20 lead that, in the era before two-point conversions, seemed rather safe.
It seemed insurmountable when Starr cranked another looping bomb in the fourth quarter, a 29-yard strike to Max McGee that should have ended the thing.
It Got Real Scary
Then Bob Lilly blocked Don Chandler's extra point, and what should have been a three-score lead remained a two-score advantage.
The first score Dallas got back happened in the fourth quarter on a 68-yard bomb from Don Meredith to tight end Frank Clarke, who burned safety Tom Brown.
Next drive, under two minutes left: same play, nearly the same result. Tom Brown burned, having to pull a pass interference penalty that put the ball on the Green Bay two yard line.
Then, for the final two minutes, the Packers defense (and boneheaded performance by the young Cowboys) saved Green Bay's championship destiny.
1st Down: Reeves gains one yard running right at the immovable Henry Jordan, Ron Kostelnik and Ray Nitschke.
2nd Down: following a Cowboys procedure penalty: Reeves dropped a swing pass.
3rd Down: Meredith chooses not to throw into the end zone, and finds receiver Pettis Norman for a completion at the two yard line.
4th Down: Tom Landry chooses a run-pass option play with wide receiver (and world's fastest human Bob Hayes) moved to the tight end slot. Hayes had never run the play in practice, and had no clue what to do.
The guy he was supposed to block, Packers linebacker Dave Robinson, came in undeterred toward Meredith.
The future Monday Night Football star analyst only had one choice: chuck the ball into the end zone and hope.
The ball fell into previous goat Tom Brown's hands with :28 left.
Packers 34, Cowboys 27.
Second consecutive championship won in a back-and-forth tussle for the ages.
Can we expect a similar type of game Sunday night?
Very possibly. The Packers will probably have to score in the mid-30's or more to win.
Can we expect a similar result of a Packers' win?
Just as possible. (More later this week on that thought.)