GreenBay100: December 31, 1961 - Lombardi's first NFL title

It might only be the third most famous Packers playoff game ever played on New Year's Eve.

The most famous, of course, was the Ice Bowl. No. 2, probably due to the patterns of memory, is the 1994 NFC Wild Card game against the Detroit Lions where the Packers destroyed Barry Sanders, holding him to minus-one yard rushing that day.

The game that gets lost in the shuffle? The 1961 NFL Championship Game. It was the contest that solidified the Green Bay Packers' return to prominence and power in the National Football League, and the groundbreaker for the construction of the Green Bay Packers' dynasty under Vince Lombardi.

The New York Giants were coming to town for the first-ever postseason game played in Green Bay. 39,000 people packed the slowly-expanding City Stadium (to be renamed Lambeau Field) for the showdown in frigid but not Ice Bowl-like conditions - about 20 degrees and windy.

The story goes that the night before the contest, Lombardi took longtime college friend and member of New York Giants brass Wellington Mara to dinner in Green Bay. After an enjoyable meal and conversation, he reportedly stood up, declared his team would win, paid for the meal and left Mara to find his own way back to his hotel.

The next day, the Packers left New York just as much in the cold as Lombardi's Packers demolished his old employers.

Paul Hornung scored 19 combined points rushing (one touchdown) and kicking (four extra points and three field goals). Bart Starr delivered three touchdown passes, two to Ron Kramer.

The Packers held the Giants' vaunted offense to just 130 total yards. The Giants had only one more first down (six) than they had turnovers committed (five).

All that led to the result that chilly afternoon, a 37-0 romp and the Packers' first NFL title in 17 years.

Afterward, someone came up with a new nickname for the city of Green Bay: Titletown, USA.
 

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