From the Archives: Super Bowl I: Packers prove NFL’s brand best, 35-10
Like a stern parent chastizing a mischievous child, the Green Bay Packers soundly thrashed the upstart Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10, Sunday in Memorial Coliseum in the first Super Bowl game.
The outstanding master of the whip-lash on a gorgeous summer-like afternoon was Bryan Bartlett Starr, who had been playing in the NFL four years before the junior circuit was born.
The great Packer quarterback completed key third down passes with abandon to the amazement of 63,036 shirt-sleeved spectators, connecting on 16 of 23 throws for 250 yards and two touchdowns as he riddled the Kansas City defense. He was named player of the game.
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Kansas City, the recalcitrant child, bitterly opposed the lessons its elders sought to teach in the first half, and left the field before the spectacular half-time show trailing only 14-10.
That was the end of the line for coach Hank Stram’s Chiefs, who never got deep into Green Bay territory during the second half as the always rugged Packer defense turned back the AFL champions at the 40-yard line twice -- the deepest penetrations.
“We mangled ‘em a little bit,” was the understatement of Packer fullback Jim Taylor after the game.
Victorious coach Vince Lombardi kindly called the vanquished a good team but honesty got the better of him when he added:
“The Chiefs are not as good as the Cowboys (who lost to Green Bay in the NFL playoff game). They are not as good as the good NFL teams.”
The first championship game provided the answer to the question the football world had been asking ever since the AFL was formed.
Naturally, Stram didn’t quite agree.
“After the first half I thought we could win. But once the Packers got their third touchdown we had to play catch up,” he pointed out.
That was when the Packer defense really asserted itself, early in the third quarter, blitzing quarterback Len Dawson and turning back the Kansas City ground game.
Stram felt Willie Wood’s interception and 50-yard return with a Dawson pass turned the tide in Green Bay’s favor. It set the stage for Elijah Pitts’ 5-yard touchdown run.
“The interception changed the personality of the game,” Stram said.
There was no question about that, but the Packers were going to accomplish the change sooner or later, anyway.
By a quirk of fate, 34-year-old Max McGee emerged from the contest as Starr’s key receiver. The 11-year veteran end, who had caught only four passes for 90 yards all season, plus another in the playoff game, replaced the injured Boyd Dowler and snagged seven for 138 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
He made some fantastic catches as Starr riddled the Kansas City deep defenses behind a wall of superb protection.
It was McGee who started the scoring with as spectacular a catch as anyone would want to see.
He made a one-handed reception over his right shoulder at the 25-yard line, spun away from defender Willie Mitchell, and rambled into the end zone -- a 37-yard touchdown play.
That came midway through the first quarter on the end of an 80-yard drive in six plays with Starr completing tosses to Marv Fleming, Pitts and Carroll Dale along the way.
Mike Mercer’s attempted 40-yard field goal that sailed wide closed out the initial quarter. But the Chiefs bounced right back in the second to score when they put together a 66-yard push in half a dozen plays.
Three spectacular performances marked this push to tie the score. First, Mike Garrett, the former USC Heisman Trophy winner, broke three tackles after taking a short screen toss, as he reversed his field for 17 yards to the 50.
Bert Coan and Curtis McClinton worked the Packer defense over for a first down at the 37. From there, Dawson raced to the left on a play-action pass, turned, and found Otis Taylor at the 13. The fleet split-end scrambled to the 7 before he was downed.
Soft shot for TD
On first down Dawson sent two receivers, McClinton and Chris Burford into the left corner of the end zone. Defender Wood, undecided on which to cover, chose Burford and McClinton caught the soft toss for the TD. That was the closest the Chiefs came all afternoon.
The Packers got it right back. In fact, they had to score two touchdowns but got credit for only one.
On third down and a yard to go situation, Starr found Dale wide open with no defender within yards for a 64-yard play that was called back when one of his interior linemen made a previous false move.
That didn’t bother Bart for a minute. He passed to McGee for the first down, and completed three other third-down tosses to Dale, Fleming and Pitts as the Packers moved 73 yards in 13 plays to score.
Taylor got the touchdown from 14 yards out. He circled left end, broke a couple of tackles and ran into the end zone.
There were five minutes of playing time left and Dawson went to the air to conserve them. Tosses to Fred Arbanas, Taylor and Burford took the ball 50 yards to the 32.
Kansas City stalled at the 24 so on fourth down Mercer booted a 31-yad field goal making the half-time count 14-10.
The fans, who had seen a great game up to this point, little expected that this was the best the stubborn Chiefs were going to do.
The crowd had hardly settled itself after the spectacular between halves show before the Packers broke the game wide open.
Not normally a blitzing team, they put a devastating rush on Dawson after Kansas City had worked the opening kickoff to mid-field.
Len under-threw the pass as the big linemen swooped in upon him. That’s all free safety Wood needed.
He fielded the ball on his own 45 and appeared to be going the distance until Garrett came from behind to spill him at the five. Pitts slid through left tackle from there and suddenly the score was 21-10.
The Packers really blitzed Dawson after that, twice dumping him for losses of more than 10 yards, forcing a punt from the end zone.
A clipping penalty set Green Bay back to its 45, but Starr quickly worked the ball into Kansas City territory on short passes to McGee.
He changed the patter and called on Taylor to carry the next three times, moving to the 13. From there he fired into the end zone, finding the ever-present McGee. Max bobbled the ball, but managed to hang on for the touchdown, ending a 56-yard effort that took 10 plays.
Now the Chiefs really were trying to catch up, with Dawson scrambling for his life and throwing on almost every play.
Mitchell’s interception only the fourth against Starr all year, only momentarily stopped the Packers.
Starr was quickly back at his old tricks. Passes to Dale for 25 and McGee for 37 took the ball to the 18, midway trough the final quarter. A short one to Dale went to the 12 and from there, Taylor and Pitts punched it over, with Elijah going the final yard.
Beathard gets in
There wasn’t much after that. The pro-Chiefs crowd got a chance to roar a little when Pete Beathard, former USC star, took over for the much harrassed Dawson, but the Trojan could do nothing.
With reserves in from both benches and time running out, that was the ball game.
Where Kansas City had left the field at halftime leading in most statistical departments, the Chiefs took the long walk to the dressing room at the end badly mauled.
In addition to the score, they trailed Green Bay 17-21 in first downs, 239-358 i total yards and 167-228 in passes. Only in the punting game did they hold the edge.
By rare coincidence, the final score of 35-10 was identical to the first “super bowl” game back in 1950 when the Cleveland Browns came out of the wreckage of the defunct All America Conference to beat the NFL-champion Philadelphia Eagles.
If Sunday’s game is any indication, the AFL has a long journey ahead before it catches up with the old establishment, the NFL.
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