1960 NFL Championship Game: Philadelphia Eagles vs Green Bay Packers
The 1960 National Football League championship game was the 28th NFL title game. The game was played on Monday, December 26, at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In addition to the landmark 1958 championship game, in which the Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants in sudden death overtime, the 1960 game has also been called a key event in football history. The game marked the lone playoff defeat for Packers coach Vince Lombardi before his Packers team established a dynasty that won five NFL championships, including the first two Super Bowls, in a span of seven seasons. The victory was the third NFL title for the Philadelphia Eagles, and their final championship until the team won Super Bowl LII in 2018, ending a 57-season championship drought.
The American Football League was in its first season and held its inaugural title game less than a week later. First-year NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle convinced owners to move the league's headquarters from Philadelphia to New York City, and with Congressional passage of the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 received an antitrust exemption that allowed the league to negotiate a common broadcasting network representing all of its teams, helping cement football's ascendancy as a national sport.
This was the second and last NFL championship game played in Philadelphia, and the only one at Franklin Field. A dozen years earlier, the 1948 title game was held in the snow at Shibe Park and was also an Eagles' victory.
Ticket prices for the game were ten and eight dollars,
The game matched the leagues's conference champions, Philadelphia Eagles (10–2) of the East and Green Bay Packers (8–4) of the West. The Eagles were making their first appearance in a championship game since 1949, and the Packers their first since 1944. Two years earlier, both teams had finished last in their respective conferences.
Due to the lack of lights at Franklin Field, the kickoff time was moved up to 12 p.m. (noon) EST. The league was concerned about the possibility of sudden death overtime, as had occurred in 1958. The game was played on a Monday, similar to 1955, as the NFL did not want to play on Christmas.
Led by future hall of fame head coach Vince Lombardi, Green Bay won the Western Conference, a game ahead of the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers. The two-time defending champion Baltimore Colts, led by quarterback Johnny Unitas, were 6–2 on November 13, but lost their last four and stumbled into fourth place with a .500 record. (Baltimore did not win another division/conference title until 1964.) Green Bay had won six league championships before, most recently in 1944, but the intervening years had been lean.
At the time, Lombardi was better known as an assistant coach (offense) for the New York Giants. Hired by the Packers in January 1959, he led them to a 7–5 record in his first season as a head coach, a vast improvement over the 1958 season (1–10–1), their worst ever. On the field, the Packers were led by quarterback Bart Starr, another future hall of famer, who was then lightly regarded, having thrown eight interceptions to go with his four touchdown passes in the 1960 season. Starr had shared playing time with Lamar McHan, who won all four games he started, while Starr was an even 4–4. In his four previous seasons in the league, Starr had more interceptions than touchdowns in each season and he finished the 1960 season with 1,358 passing yards, completing 98 of 172 passes for a completion percentage of 57.0. Other names that would shine during the dynasty the Packers built during the 1960s, such as halfback / placekicker Paul Hornung, linebacker Ray Nitschke, and fullback Jim Taylor; all early in their careers and future hall of famers.
The 1960 game represented a chance for Philadelphia to add to the two titles they had won in 1948 and 1949, but the team had declined to only two wins in 1958. Head coach Buck Shaw was in his third season with the Eagles, and in what turned out to be his final year as a head coach, and had turned around the team from a 2–9–1 record in 1958 to seven wins in 1959 to a conference championship and the league's best record in 1960. The Eagles were led on the field by quarterback Norm Van Brocklin, age 34, who was ranked second in the NFL with 2,471 passing yards and 24 passing touchdowns, behind Johnny Unitas of the Colts in both statistics, and was playing in his final game before he retired. Less than a month after the title game, he was named the head coach of the expansion Minnesota Vikings. Philadelphia had clinched the Eastern title early on December 4 at 9–1, and there was concern by Shaw that it could have an adverse effect on his team.
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