A continuation of the Legacy of Champions series. Articles that chronicle the 13 Packer championships. If you’re just joining us, read about all the great Packer championships by clicking here.
In 1966, the NFL came to an agreement to merge with the fledgling American Football League and become a single professional football league. The merger wouldn’t happen until 1970. In the meantime, the two leagues began to pit their two league champions against each other in what would be called the Super Bowl.
1966 Packer Season
The 1966 Packer season began with a rematch of a controversial 1965 Packer win against the Colts in the 1965 Western Division playoff game. In that game, the Packers scored on a field goal that kicker Don Chandler thought he missed but the officials called good.
All offseason the Colts and their fanbase seethed about the “missed call.” Now, as the 1966 season kicked off, the two teams locked horns to see who was really the team that deserved to move on in 1965 and win the World Championship.
In the end, the great Johnny Unitas and his Colts bowed to the might of the Green Bay Packers in a 24-3 loss and the Packers made the entire nation realized they were, in fact, the right team to represent the Western Division in the Championship the year before.
The matchups in the ongoing rivalry against the Bears were a bittersweet thing in 1966. The Packers swept the Bears that season but it would be the last time the great tandem of Taylor and Hornung would be knocking down defensive walls on their way to the endzone.
In their first meeting with the Bears, Lombardi thought to bench the tandem and replace it with a younger version of the great machine. However, he decided the experience of Taylor and Hornung was needed in such a monumental game.
He was right…
The aging pair seemed to regain their stride as they marched their way to 17 points. But the real story of this game was the play of the Packers’ league leading defense. The Packer defense held the Bears offense to just 94 yards and their flashy new running back Gayle Sayers to only 25 yards on 15 carries. It was a long day for the Bears’ offense and a satisfying 17-0 shutout for the Packers.
Game number two between the Packers and the Bears was more of a nail-biter. The two defenses were almost impenetrable the entire game and late in the fourth period the Packers held tightly to a 7-0 lead. Suddenly, the Bears found a bit of a rhythm and marched down the field to score a touchdown. They missed the extra point and failed to tie the game, but found out the point was moot anyhow as, with just 9:29 left in the game the Packers methodically stormed down the field and crossed the goal line to put the icing on the cake.
The Packers concluded the 1966 season with a 12-2-0 record. Their only losses coming in a 1 point loss to the 49ers and a 3 point loss to the Vikings.
1966 Conference Championship
In the 1966 National Football League championship, the Packers met the Dallas Cowboys.
Bart Starr was outstanding against the Cowboys as he threw for 304 yards and scored four passing touchdowns to lead the Packers to a 34-27 win over Dallas. The Cowboys had made an effort to topple the Packers as they drew within one point to make it a 21-20 game. However, two passing touchdowns later and the Packers had a comfortable lead.
The win gave the Packers the NFL title, but a new game would determine whether they were World Champions. That game was called the Super Bowl.
Winners of the First Super Bowl
At the end of the 1966 season, the NFL’s Green Bay Packers butted heads with the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs for the first ever Super Bowl between the two leagues.
We have to give credit to the Chiefs for putting up a good fight against the champion of a far superior league. The Packers got on the board first with a 37 yard pass to Max McGee, but the Chiefs answered back with touchdown pass of their own from quarterback Len Dawson. Taylor answered with a 14 yard touchdown rumble, and the Chiefs responded with a field goal. It would be the last points they saw all day as the Packers found their downhill stride on their way to a 35-10 win in Super Bowl I.
The Packers defense forced Kansas City to punt seven times and sacked them six times. They allowed no points from the Chiefs for the entire second half.
There was no Lombardi trophy at that time, but the Packers had answered the question of which league was top dog and they brought home their first Super Bowl title and another back-to-back championship for Titletown.