Tittle to Shofner And Game One is in the Books

Mark BrunswigContributor IDecember 19, 2009

Let me fill you in a little bit on what I’m talking about here.  My best friend Steve and I play old school Strat-O-Matic football.  No computers involved except this part.  It’s all about rolling the dice, and guessing right at the right times.  We have a bunch of teams, old and new, totaling more than 200 card sets between us.  The teams were seeded on the cards as well as on prior game experience. 

There have been five previous tournaments also which helped decipher the ranking, that’s how the 1995 Pittsburg Steelers are such a high seed; they've won two of those tournaments.  At the beginning of each article I will recap the games we have played already.

For a complete look at the teams involved and a little more information on how the seeding was conducted I’m working that.  Got a few days maybe I can get it done.

It has begun, the ultimate 64 team Tournement, Strat-o-matic style.  Game one is in the books as the No. 7 seeded 1963 New York Giants (11-3) hosted the No.58 seeded 1996 Carolina Panthers (12-4). 

The game began as one would imagine, with a strong start for the Giants as they jumped out to a early 12-0 lead.  Thanks to the excellent rated pass defense causing two early turnovers (Int, FF on a sac), and a fumbled kick-off return.  Along with some strong running by Joe Morrison who had 21 carries for 95 yards and a Fumble.

Phil King who added seven carries for 49 yards and a touchdown.  Don Chandler would miss the point after try on the ony touchdown in the first half.  Chandler's missed extra point attempt would loom heavily later in the game, though he did finish the game 1-2 in extra points and 3-3 FGs.

Things changed in the second quarter as Hall of Fame QB Y.A. Tittle cooled way off after starting 4-6 for 54 yrds on his first three drives, he would end the game 11 of 21 one TD, two Int, five sacs (-29).   

At the same time the stingy excellent rated Carolina run defense was putting the clamps on the Giants running game, and seemed to be finding a way to disrupt the usually cool Tittle. 

The teams would go on to trade field goals as they both attmept to get a running game going, but the both defenses came to the game to play as they seemed to be in the opposing offenses backfields more times then not. With nine sacks and eight TFL in the game it seemed whichever team could manage one or two big plays would likely end up taking this defensively dominated game.

Carolina would get the ball to start the third, and would end it with a 3-0 score in the quarter.  Kerry Collins was able to find some open receivers and the Panthers running game was making some head way.  The lone score in the quarter coming off the first of Tittle's two Ints. Making it a 15-6 Giants lead heading to the fourth. 

The fourth quarter looked early as much of the game with a lot of defense. That stout Carolina rush defense continued to stifle the Giants running game which had 30 carries and 162 yards as a team.  A bend but don't break look from the Giants continued, as they saw the Panthers bring it to a one point game after a couple field goals, the second coming after a fumble by Joe Morrison. 

Carolina then was able to take the lead when Carlton Bailey stepped in front of Tittle's  dump off pass for the second of the Panthers two interceptions.  This one coming deep in Giant territory, leading to a short TD run by Anthony Johnson.  Johnson was solid most the game against the Average rated run defense for the Giants, he would end the game with 38 carries for 140 yards and one TD.  The late TD looked to have possibly been a game winner.  

After a great special teams play by the Panthers on the insuing kick-off, former tournament champion QB Y.A. Tittle took the field with only one mission, making Round two.  It was first and 10 at the 19 yard line with under 3:00 minutes on the clock and the Giants down by four.  Mr. Tittle took the controls and went 3-for-5 with a TD, hitting Frank Gifford underneath for 16 yards on his first attempt. Then after a incomplete pass on first down Tittle hit Joe Walton up the seam for a 23 yard catch and run.  Tittle then miss fired deep, having a guy open short but going for it all.  

On the next play, second  and10 from the 42, the Giants line did something they hadn't done much all game, as they gave Tittle ample time.  Tittle scanned the feild, and goes deep to Del Shofner with a step and on the back up free safety.  Tittle put the ball up, the DB could never recover as the Shofner streaked to the endzone for 42 yards and the game winning Touchdown.  

Final Score 1996 Carolina Panthers 19 1963 New York Giants 22.  The Giants move on to play the winner of what should be another classic game as the No.26 seeded 1966 Dallas Cowboys (10-3-1) play host to the No.39 seeded 1979 Houston Oilers (11-5).

I'm hoping to have game two between the No.10 seeded 1968 Baltimore Colts (13-1)host the No.55 seeded  Pittsburg Steelers (10-6) played before the holidays.