Legacy of Champions: 1944 the Overlooked Championship

1944 Packer NFL ChampionsA 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 the wake of D Day, and as allied troops valiantly marched across Europe freeing it from a tyrant, the Packers quietly earned their sixth league championship.

The Packers started out the 1944 season on a six game tear and ended the season with an eight and two record. That was good enough to get them first place in the Western division. They’re only losses came to the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants.

By this time the Packers and Bears rivalry was in full swing and very heated. In their first meeting, The Packers pushed out to a 28-7 halftime lead. The Bears scored 14 points early in the fourth. But the Packers countered with 14 points of their own in that period. When the Packers and Bears met for the second time in 1944 Bears Sid Luckman was on shore-leave. In that game the Bears held Don Hutson scoreless for the first time in 41 straight games and the Bears went on to win 21-0.

When the Packers traveled to New York to take on the Giants later in the season, the giants pulled off a huge win giving the Packers their second loss if the season. The Giants had convinced the Packers former passer Arnie Herber to come out of retirement. Herber gave the 1944 Giants some of the best passing in years. Unlike the Packers who were in control of the Western Division, the Giants were fighting for their playoff lives when they met the Packers at the end of the season. While the Packers were able to generate more first downs than the Giants (18-9), five interceptions were the key to the Giants keeping their chances of an appearance in the championship alive.

The Giants closed out the first meeting with a 24-0 win and eventually went on to win the Eastern Division. The shutout wasn’t unusual for the Giants’ defense. They shut out half their opponents in 1944. The Packers, however, were gearing up for some payback.

In the championship, the Giants had one key to the game… shut down Don Hutson. They double and triple teamed him in an effort to keep the super star contained. The Packers used this to their advantage. They created misdirection with Hutson causing the entire Giants defense to react allowing fullback Ted Fritsch to rumble over huge chunks of land. By halftime, the Packers led 14-0.

In the second half, the Giants defense adjusted to the Packers’ approach and shut them out for the entire half. In the waning moments of the 3rd quarter, an aging Arnie Hebert showed he still had something left in that arm as he connected on a pass that took the Giants to the Packers one yard line. On the first play of the 4th quarter, the Giants pushed over the line for their first score and their first sign of hope.

A Packer interception late in the fourth period stalled a final attempt by the Giants and sealed a sixth championship for Green Bay.

The win signaled the end of the first great Packer era. It was the last championship the Pack would win under Curly Lambeau. One year later, in 1945, Don Hutson retired from the game, much earlier than anyone expected.

For a time, the Packers didn’t see the championship game. For the first time in their history the Packers experienced a string of disappointing seasons, until a man named Lombardi awakened the sleeping giant from it’s slumber.


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