Don Chandler ends overtime in the Western Conference Playoff game with a 25-yard FG.

 

1965

Background:  After missing the NFL championship for two years in a row, Lombardi ratchets up his efforts to break the losing streak and makes some interesting player moves, including acquiring K Don Chandler.

Key Departures:   DB Jess Whittenton — retirement

                                     DT Dave Hanner –retirement

                                     LB  Dan Currie –traded to the Rams

                                     TE  Ron Kramer — traded to the Lions for a 1st round pick in ’66 (Jim Grabowski)

Key Additions:       K   Don Chandler — via trade from the Giants

                                      E    Carroll Dale — from the Rams in exchange for Dan Currie

Season summary:  This Packer team was no longer a dominant rushing team and had difficulties scoring points at times. Relying on an opportunistic defense which capitalized on opponents’ errors, the Packers began the ’65 season with a six game win streak, putting them in the lead of the Western Conference standings.  However, the Packers hit a streak of offensive futility in mid season, going 3-2, and scoring 10 points or less four times. Finally, all of the pieces started coming together: Paul Hornung was healthy and finally rounding into form; Jerry Kramer had fully recovered from his season-ending illness the year before.  After defeating the Colts, 42-27, in Baltimore, the Packers had a half-game lead over the Colts with one game to play heading into the season finale, but could only muster a tie with the Niners, sending the Packers and Colts into a playoff game for the Western Conference crown.

The Low Point:  The aforementioned offensive slump, which began on Halloween, with a 31-10 loss to the Barelys.  From there the Packers lost to the Lions at home, 12-7, beat the Rams in Milwaukee, 6-3, beat the Queens in Minny, 38-13, and lost to the Rams in LA, 21-10.  The 38 points against the Queens were deceptive, since four turnovers led to Packer TDs.

The High Point:   Trailing the Colts by one half game in the Western Conference standings, the Packers traveled to Baltimore on December 12th to take on the Conference leaders.  Paul Hornung was returned to the starting line up and proceeded to score 5 TDs on a fog-shrouded day to help defeat the Colts, 42-27.

The Key Point:  IMHO, this did not happen on the field, but at a team meeting following the Packers’ 21-10 loss against the Rams. When Lombardi accuses his players of not caring as much about the games as he did, Forrest Gregg calls his coach out on it and a mutiny almost ensues.  Fortunately, Lombardi is able to use the moment as motivational turning point and the Packers do not lose for the remainder of the season and post-season.

The Postseason:  Since the Packers swept both regular season games against the Colts, the Western Conference playoff game was held in Green Bay on December 26th. Playing without QBs Johnny Unitas and Gary Cuozzo and down to emergency QB Tom Matte (who hadn’t played QB since his collegiate days at The Ohio State University), the Colts take a surprising 10-0 lead. Zeke Bratkowski, filling in for the injured Bart Starr, leads the Packers to two second half scoring drives, including one for a controversial game-tying FG from Don Chandler in the fourth quarter. The game ends deadlocked at 10-all.  Baltimore takes first possession in the extra frame and drives down for a potential GW FG from the 47, but a bad center snap throws off Lou Michaels’ timing and the kick fails. On the ensuing drive, Bratkowski engineers the Packers down to the Colt 18, where Don Chandler hits the GW from 25 yards out right down the middle of the pipes.

The following Sunday the Packers host the Cleveland Browns for the NFL Title game in the mud and snow.  Coming out of the locker room at the half, the Packers held a slim 13-12 lead over the Browns, but took control of the game in the third quarter.  Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor had huge days running the football as they gained 105 and 96 yards respectively, and the Packers held the legendary Jim Brown to 50 yards rushing in what would be his last pro football contest.  Jerry Kramer escorted Paul Hornung into the end zone on a 13 yard sweep to give the Packers breathing room, at 20-12, and a Don Chandler FG in the fourth quarter made the final score 23-12.