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Packers-Eagles Rivalry



It was the day after Christmas in 1960 and Vince Lombardi was addressing the Packers in the capacious visitors' locker room at Philadelphia's Franklin Field only minutes after their NFL Championship Game against the Eagles had ended.

At that moment, Lombardi was in the process of making a profound promise to his players, who had barely come up short when fullback Jim Taylor was felled at the Philadelphia 8-yard line by Chuck Bednarik as time expired, thereby closing out a 17-13 victory for the Eagles.

"We will never lose another championship game," he vowed.

And thus, in effect, was launched what was to become the greatest postseason dynasty in professional football history.

For Lombardi, never one to make such commitments lightly, was as good as his word.

Fulfilling his Franklin Field "proclamation," he subsequently led the Packers to nine playoff victories - five NFL titles in a seven-year span, beginning with back-to-back championships the next two years (1961-62) and three more in 1965-66-67, two Western Conference triumphs (1965 and 1967) and victories in Super Bowls I and II following the '66 and '67 seasons.

Interspersed among these considerable achievements were a pair of Western Conference playoff triumphs in '65 and '67, successes which enabled the Green and Gold to advance in those postseason tournaments and win two of the five NFL titles captured during that remarkable span.

It remains a decade of dominance without equal in the annals of professional football.

During this memorable stretch, Lombardi also was to preside over what represented revenge of sorts for that '60 championship loss to the Eagles, escorting the Packers to a 49-0 dismantling of the Birds in a 1962 regular season encounter - poetically on the same Franklin Field Turf - and punctuating that triumph by amassing a team-record 628 yards of offense.

Those 49 points remain the most ever scored in one game by either team in the 70-year history of their series, which they will renew in Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field next Sunday afternoon.

Although the Packers hold a substantial lead in the all-time rivalry, having won 22 of their 32 meetings, they have not found good fortune in Philly of late, their most recent success in the series having come in that '62 runaway.

Over the 42-year interim, the Eagles have won on home turf on six occasions, including last January's divisional playoff, which saw them pull out a 20-17 victory in sudden death overtime with a 31-yard field goal by David Akers.

Historically, in terms of frustration and competitive importance, however, that near-miss in the '60 title game remains the Green and Gold's biggest disappointment in the 66-year annals of their "association" with the Birds.

Although it clearly was not the result he had anticipated, Lombardi could find no fault with his team's performance. In fact, he assured the Packers had lost no stature in his eyes.

"I'm very proud of our ball club," he said during the quiet dressing room aftermath. "I think they played a great football game. They stayed in there all the way."

At the same time, Vince said he was "happy for Buck," his Eagles coaching opponent, silver-haired Buck Shaw. "Seeing he's going to retire, that's a nice note for him to go out on."

With respect to the outcome, Lombardi asserted, "We just ran out of time," also quipping, "If we could have added a couple of seconds at the end of each half, we would have been all right."

The latter was a reference to the fact that, with fourth down at the Eagles' 2-yard line and only seconds remaining on the clock in the second quarter, Lombardi had followed football logic and opted for a Paul Hornung field goal attempt, rather than gamble on a run for a touchdown, but Hornung's kick had failed.

"Our big trouble was we couldn't cash in our breaks," Lombardi said. "We played well enough defensively to win. We just couldn't bring the ball in and score."

He pinpointed Ted Dean's 58-yard runback of a Hornung kickoff early in the fourth quarter - at which point the Packers led 13-10, as "the big play of the game."

"If it hadn't been for that," he said, "we might have held 'em. That gave them their last score."

Statistically, the Packers had all the better of it, running off 77 plays to the Eagles' 48 offensively and out-yarding them, 401 to 296.

Defensively, the Green and Golf also were more successful, intercepting two passes, recovering two fumbles and forcing six punts. The Eagles, meanwhile, had no interceptions, recovered one fumble and caused five Packers punts.

Two years prior to that '60 misadventure, in fortuitous contrast, the Eagles had unintentionally spared the Packers the ultimate embarrassment - what could have been the lone winless season in their long history.

They had no way of knowing it at the time, since it was only the fifth week of the '58 season, but the Packers' 38-35 win in then "new" City Stadium (Oct. 26) was to be their only victory in a 1-10-1 season, worst in team annals.

From the purely statistical perspective, Green Bay's '62 rout of the Birds was a performance apart. The greatest offensive display in team history, it saw the Green and Gold amass 294 yards rushing and 334 passing in surpassing the 600-yard plateau for the only time in team annals to date.

En route, they scored on seven touchdown drives of 86, 89, 85, 76, 71, 66 and 65 yards. In the process, they ran off 86 plays to Philadelphia's 41 and registered 37 first downs, including 21 rushing, both of the latter totals all-time team records.

The Packers' defense also was in complete control on that remarkable occasion, restricting the Eagles to just 54 net yards, including 30 yards rushing and 24 passing.

Quarterback Bart Starr, the on-field architect of this awesome display, had one of the most productive outings of a distinguished career, completing 15 of 20 passes for 274 yards - 7 each to ends Max McGee and Boyd Dowler for 174 and 101 yards, respectively.

Meanwhile, fullback Jim Taylor, then on his way to a Packers single-season rushing record, ground out 141 yards in 25 attempts while scoring four of Green Bay's seven touchdowns.

Most recently, Packers coach Mike Sherman made personal history by posting his first head-coaching victory in the NFL at the Eagles' expense, presiding over a 6-3 win in Lambeau Field on Sept. 17, 2000.

A claw-and-scratch struggle from start to finish, the Packers ultimately shaded their guests by way of Ryan Longwell's 38-yard field goal with only three seconds remaining in the game.

Continuing an association with the team that is more than 55 years old, Lee Remmel was named the first official Team Historian of the Green Bay Packers in February 2004. The former *Green Bay Press-Gazette reporter and Packers public relations director, Remmel will write regular columns for as part of his new assignment.

In addition to those articles, Remmel will answer fan questions in a monthly Q&A column. To submit a question to Remmel, click here. *

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