1972

Background:  Bold moves abound in Dan Devine’s second season at the helm as another year of trades and the contributions of a new draft class radically change the shape of the Packers’ roster.  Another milestone of the off-season changes was the retirement of QB Bart Starr in July.  Unable to play through continual arm pain, Starr hangs up the cleats but remains as the team’s QB coach and de facto OC.

Key Departures:   RB Donny Anderson –traded to the Cardinals

DE Lionel Aldridge — traded to the Chargers

RB Dave Hampton –traded to to the Falcons

Key Additions:      RB MacArthur Lane — traded from the Cardinals

S   Jim Hill –traded from the Chargers

G  Malcom Snider –traded from the Falcons

CB Willie Buchanon –drafted in round 1a from San Diego State

K    Chester Marcol — drafted in round 1 from Hillsdale College (MI)

WR Leland Glass –drafted in round 8 from  Oregon

Season Summary:  The ’72 Packers featured a ground game second only to the Miami Dolphins and an elite defensive unit capable of forcing turnovers. After winning the season opener on the road against Cleveland, the Packers suffered a set back at home against Oakland the following week, not only losing the game but losing G Gale Gillingham and TE Rich McGeorge to season-ending knee injuries, as well. A scrappy, patchwork offensive unit depended on an opportunistic defense to upset the defending champion Cowboys the following week, 16-13, which ignited a three game win streak.  Consecutive losses to the Falcons and Queens at home threatened to drop the Packers out of first place in the division, but the Packers staged a turnaround against the Niners in early November to spark a 6-1 run to close out the season.  A win against the Queens at the Met in the second last game of the season clinched the Packers’ first Central Division crown in five years.

Rookie Chester Marcol (with P Ron Widby holding) boots a FG in the season finale at the Saints on December 17th.

The Low Point: After having dropped a heartbreaking game in a quagmire at County Stadium to the Falcons the week before, the Packers jump out to a 10-0 lead and play the Queens close at Lambeau–for 3 and 1/2 quarters.  Then, Scott Hunter gives up two pick sixes and the Queens win, 27-13, dropping the Packers into a tie for first place in the Central Division.

The High Point:  In a rematch game with the Queens at the Met on December 10th, the Packers rally from a 7-0 deficit to defeat the hosts, 23-7, and clinch the Central Division.  Two INTs from rookie DB Willie Buchanon, a fumble recovery from LB Fred Carr, and the running of FB John Brockington spark the Packers’ second-half comeback.

The Key Point:  I believe there were two of them: The first took place in Game 3, when an opportunistic Packers defense and the kicking of Chester Marcol enabled the Packers to upend the defending Super Bowl champion Cowboys at County Stadium, 16-13, on October 1st.  The second took place on November 5th when the Packers defeated the Niners at County Stadium, 34-24, snapping a two game losing streak. Paced by Brockington’s 133 rushing yards, the Packers maintained a slim 3 point lead until Ken Ellis picked off a Steve Spurrier pass and went 35 yards for the pick-six late in the game.

The Playoffs: The Packers made their first playoff appearance in five years against the Redskins at RFK on Christmas Eve Day.  A Chester Marcol FG–the first points of the day–would be the only Packer points of the day, as they lose to the Skins, 16-3.  Inexplicably, Dan Devine yanks the playcalling reins away from Bart Starr in this game, and the Packers are unable to overcome the Redskins’ use of a five-man front to stymie the Packers ground game, as a result.  Starr and Devine part company after that game, and it is an episode that Starr is reluctant to discuss–even to this day.