2012 NFL Playoffs: Green Bay Packers, New York Giants Share Rich Playoff History
In the history of the Packers and the Giants, they have plenty of connections, to this day. Running back Ryan Grant signed as an undrafted rookie by the Giants, before being traded to the Packers just before the 2007 season for a sixth-round pick.
Safety Charlie Peprah, who has been with the Packers a couple of times now, was originally acquired on waivers in 2006 when the Giants released him.
Head coach Tom Coughlin of the Giants has some Green Bay connections as well, as he coached for Forrest Gregg and the Packers in 1986-87. But the biggest coaching connection between the two teams is on Vince Lombardi.
Lombardi was an assistant coach (offense) with the Giants from 1954 to 1958 under Jim Lee Howell, as was Tom Landry (defense). The Giants won the NFL title in 1956. Lombardi was also very good friends with Giants owner Wellington Mara from their college days at Fordham.
After Lombardi went on to Green Bay and had the Packers in the NFL championship game in 1960 in just his second year, the Giants and Mara tried to get him back as their next head coach. But Dominic Olejniczak, the president of the Packers at the time, refused to let Lombardi leave.
Good thing, too, as the Packers ended up winning five NFL championships in seven years, including three straight titles from 1965-1967. The Packers also won the first two Super Bowls under Lombardi.
Lombardi also had some key help on his Green Bay roster from players he was able to get from the Giants. In 1959, Lombardi acquired safety Emlen Tunnell for cash. The Hall of Fame safety played with the Packers for three years and helped mentor a young safety that would also someday go to the Pro Football Hall of Fame...Willie Wood.
In addition, Lombardi also traded for kicker Don Chandler prior to the 1965 season, as Paul Hornung had been having major issues kicking then. Chandler brought stability to the placekicking position for the Packers for three years, plus he punted as well and once boomed a 90-yard punt.
The Packers and the Giants first started playing each other back in 1928. In the regular season, the teams have met 48 times, with the Packers having a 27-21-2 advantage. The Packers have also placed the Giants quite often in the preseason too, as the teams have played 30 times, with the Packers once again having the advantage by a 19-9-2 margin.
The Packers and Giants also have a rich championship history, as the teams have met six times in championship games, and the Packers have the edge there too by winning four of those games. The last championship struggle was the 2007 NFC Championship game at Lambeau Field in frigid conditions (game-time temperature of minus-one), as the Giants won in overtime 23-20.
Until that game, the two teams hadn't played in a championship game since the 1962 NFL championship game at Yankee Stadium. That was the game where several participants from the Ice Bowl said that the conditions in "the house that Ruth built" were even worse that day. The temperature was above zero, but winds were gusting up to 40 miles per hour as the Packers won 16-7.
The Packers and Giants played four other championship games before the one in 1962. In 1938, the Giants beat the Packers at the old Polo Grounds in New York 23-17. In 1939, the Packers whipped the Giants 27-0 at State Fair Park in Milwaukee. In 1944, the Packers defeated the Giants 14-7 at the Polo Grounds in New York.
Overall, the Packers have won 13 NFL championships (the most in the NFL history, while the Giants have won seven NFL titles.
Sunday's matchup between the Giants and Packers will be the first time these teams have met in the postseason without a championship on the line. However, the winner of this game will advance to the NFC Championship Game.
Let us take a look at the postseason history between these two storied franchises.
1938 NFL Championship Game
The 1938 NFL Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants was played at the Polo Grounds in New York City. The attendance was 48,120.
Before this title game, the Packers had lost to the Giants 15-3 in the last game of the regular season, also at the Polo Grounds.
The 1938 NFL Championship Game was much closer, as Arnie Herber threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Carl Mulleneaux and Clarke Hinkle scored on a one-yard run.
The Giants won the game 23-17 behind two blocked punts and the play of Ed Danowski (pictured), who threw two touchdown passes.
1939 NFL Championship Game
The 1939 NFL Championship Game between the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers was played at State Fair Park in West Allis, Wisconsin. The attendance was 32,279.
The Packers and Giants met for the second straight year in the NFL title game, but this time the Packers dominated after getting off to a slow start. The Giants blocked a punt and had two interceptions early in the game, but missed three field goals and also had one of their passes picked off near the Green Bay goal line.
Arnie Herber (pictured) threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Milt Gantenbein in the the first quarter (the only score of the first half) and Cecil Isbell also threw a touchdown pass in the second half to Joe Laws. Also, Ed Jankowski scored on a one-yard run. The Packers added a couple of field goals in their 27-0 victory over the Giants.
The Green Bay defense was outstanding in the game, as they held the Giants to 164 total yards, plus picked off six passes.
1944 NFL Championship Game
The 1944 NFL Championship Game was played at the Polo Grounds in New York City. The attendance was 46,016.
The Packers and Giants met in the regular season in 1944, when New York shut out Green Bay 24-0 in the second to the last game of the schedule.
The Packers played much better in this contest, especially on defense, as former Packer Arnie Herber threw four interceptions for the Giants, with Joe Laws picking off three of them.
The Packers scored two touchdowns in the second quarter on runs by Ted Fritsch (pictured), and the Packers won the contest 14-7.
1961 NFL Championship Game
The 1961 NFL Championship Game was played at City Stadium (now Lambeau Field) in Green Bay. This was the first playoff game ever played in Green Bay. The attendance was 39,029.
Vince Lombardi had to pull some strings to get Paul Hornung a leave from the Army to play in this game. Lombardi personally called President John F. Kennedy to make sure that Hornung would be able to play.
Why was Hornung in the Army?
The Army called upon him due to the escalation of the Cold War and the building of the wall in Berlin by the Soviets. In October of 1961, the Department of Defense had activated thousands of military reservists and national guardsmen for duty, including a couple dozen players from the NFL and three very important Packers players (Paul Hornung, Boyd Dowler and Ray Nitschke).
As noted in David Maraniss' book When Pride Still Mattered, Lombardi was very upset by this situation. He mentioned that the Packers were hit harder than anyone in the NFL because of the scenario.
This is when the relationship between Lombardi and Kennedy helped make Hornung available for the title game. Lombardi was a big JFK supporter during the 1960 Presidential election. They became friends over time. The Packers won two NFL championships while JFK was in the White House as well.
Initially, Hornung was not granted access to go back to the Packers for the championship game. That would have been a HUGE blow as Hornung was the NFL MVP in 1961.
Lombardi was concerned about that situation, so he placed a call to JFK to see if the President would get Hornung a pass to join the team for the big game. Sure enough, Hornung received permission.
"Paul Hornung isn't going to win the war on Sunday, but the football fans of this country deserve the two best teams on the field that day," Kennedy told Lombardi a few days before the championship game against the Giants.
The Packers beat the Giants 37-0 in that game, and Hornung scored 19 points in that game just by himself.
Titletown was born that year, as local merchants coined the community nickname—Titletown USA—to describe the spirit of the little town that could.
1962 NFL Championship Game
The 1962 NFL Championship Game was played at Yankee Stadium in New York City. The attendance was 64,892.
Guard Jerry Kramer played an important role in the 1962 title game.
The Packers defeated the Giants 37-0 in the 1961 NFL championship game in Green Bay, but Kramer did not play in that game due to a broken ankle.
The 1962 NFL title game figured to be a much tougher test against the Giants, who wanted to show their fans in New York that the game the year before was an aberration.
Kramer definitely soaked in the fantastic history of Yankee Stadium before the game began.
"Yankee Stadium was an awesome experience," Kramer said. "Especially for a kid from Idaho. Just to walk into that place where you had heard fights broadcast from, where so many World Series games were played, plus to see all the statues out in center field of Gehrig, Ruth and DiMaggio. The experience was just awesome."
Yankee Stadium was also a homecoming for Lombardi, as he was a New York City native and was an assistant coach for the Giants from 1954-1958.
"We knew how badly coach Lombardi wanted to win that ball game," Kramer said. "And we knew the Giants had been embarrassed the year before in Green Bay. We knew the Giants were going to be loaded for bear that day. But we also knew coach Lombardi desperately wanted a victory, and so we wanted to win for him and much as ourselves."
Besides playing right guard for the Packers that day, Kramer was also the placekicker for the Packers as well, after Hornung hurt his knee early in the 1962 season. Kramer had been Horning's backup at kicker since his rookie year in 1958.
The weather would not be an ally for Kramer that day while he was kicking, as the wind was gusting at up to 50 miles per hour at times. The temperature was 13 degrees, but it seemed much colder due to the wind.
Were the conditions at the 1962 NFL title game comparable to the Ice Bowl?
"You know, they were very similar, " Kramer said. "Vince Lombardi Jr. and I were talking about it years later, and Vince Jr. thought the Giants game was colder than the Ice Bowl. Vince Jr. was at both games, too. It was just a bitter cold day. The wind was sharp and biting."
Because of the weather conditions, the game was mostly going to be won via the ground game and because of turnovers. The Packers rushed for 148 yards in the game, with fullback Jim Taylor getting 85 of those yards. Taylor also scored the only touchdown of the game for the Packers.
Kramer was three for five in field goals that windy day. "The wind was circling in the stadium that day," Kramer said. "When I made my last field goal, I aimed maybe eight to 10 yards outside the goal posts. The wind ended up bringing my kick into the center of the goal posts. It was one of the very few times I had to play the wind that way."
Kramer scored 10 of the 16 points the Packers scored vs. the Giants. When he made that last field goal, the Packers now had a nine-point lead late in the game.
"It was a hell of a moment," Kramer reflected. "It put the game out of reach, as they would have to score twice to beat us. It was probably the most excited I had ever been in a contest, and the guys were pounding me on the back. I experienced a Bart Starr-like moment, of having everyone applaud me and congratulate me."
The Packers won 16-7 that day at Yankee Stadium. Taylor had a big day rushing, and Ray Nitschke was named MVP of the game for his two fumble recoveries and pass deflection that was intercepted by Dan Currie.
But Kramer had a big day as well. In fact, Kramer received the game ball from his team for his efforts.
"It was a huge moment and a wonderful experience," Kramer said. "The big thing was they you were able to come through. You met the test and were able to get the job done. And also not let the team down."
2007 NFC Championship Game
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The 2007 NFC Championship Game was played at frigid Lambeau Field. The attendance was 72,740.
The game time temperature was minus-one. That Ice Bowl-type weather didn't seem to bother the Giants too much. The Giants had 24 first downs, while the Packers only had 13. The Giants time of possession was 40:03, compared to the Packers 22:34. The Giants had 134 rushing yards, compared to the Packers' 28.
Quarterback Eli Manning didn't throw any interceptions, while Brett Favre threw two picks, including a very costly one in overtime. Favre threw for 236 yards passing, but 90 yards of that came on one touchdown pass to Donald Driver.
Manning had too much time in the pocket as he completed 21 of 40 for 251 yards, and 11 of those completions went to Plaxico Burress for 151 yards.
The Packers defense also allowed the Giants to come back from deficits twice. The Packers led 10-6 at halftime, only to see the Giants regain the lead 13-10. After the Packers took the lead again at 17-13, the Packers allowed the Giants to go ahead again, 20-17. There were also missed turnovers that could have turned the game.
Early in the game, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins dropped an interception from Manning. Running back Brandon Jacobs of the Giants fumbled near the Green Bay goal line, only to have it recovered by tight end Kevin Boss after going through the legs of defensive end Aaron Kampman. The Giants went on to score a touchdown.
Also, with the game tied at 20 with just a few minutes left, the Giants' R.W. McQuarters took a punt near mid-field and fumbled in Packers territory. First, Jarrett Bush tried to scoop up the fumble, but it was knocked away. Then, Brady Poppinga had a shot at it, but it squirted out and the Giants recovered.
The Giants went on to miss a game-winning field goal before overtime, but who knows what would have happened had the Packers recovered, as Mason Crosby was two-for-two for field goal attempts that night.
The Favre interception in overtime set up the game-winning 47-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes of the Giants.
Bob Fox is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.