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.
After a couple years in a row where they didn’t make it to the championship game, the Packers took a hard path to the top game in 1965. But, once they were there they made it count and brought home yet another NFL world championship.
1965 Packer Season
The Packers finished the 1965 season with a 10-3-1 record. Their one tie was in a late season battle with the 49ers, and their losses came against the Bears (in their second meeting), Detroit (as the Packers suffered their second loss in as many games), and the Rams.
The Packers kicked off the 1965 season in style as they embarrassed the Steelers 41-9 in the season opener. In that game, the Packers generated nearly twice as much total yardage as the inferior Steelers.
The Packers-Bears rivalry took a turn in 1965. In the first meeting of the two teams, the Packers charged out to a 20-0 halftime lead against their arch rivals. The team was largely carried by the throwing arm of Bart Starr. He generated 263 yards in the air. Jim Taylor carried the ball for 45 yards but added 75 receiving out of the backfield to his all-purpose tally. The Packers closed out the game with a 23-14 win, but a flashy rookie Bears running back by the name of Gayle Sayers was beginning to make some noise as he marched for 105 yards for the 0-3 Bears.
In their second meeting, the Packers faced a very different team than 0-3 one that appeared in the previous meeting. This time, the Bears were on a 3-0 run. The Bears defense held Taylor to just 50 rushing, and, more importantly, held Starr to 94 total passing yards. The Bears rode their defense and its three interceptions to a 31-10 win over the Pack.
Bart Starr started every game in 1965, but four times the Packers had to call on veteran Zeke Bratkowski to fill in. Twice Bratkowski took over the reigns from Starr against the Baltimore Colts, including finishing out a win in the Western Division championship game.
A tie of records in 1965 forced a Western Division playoff between the Packers and the Colts. It turned out to be a battle of the backup quarterbacks. The Colts started the game without Johnny Unitas on the field and inside the first 21 seconds the Packers fumbled giving the Colts a 7 point lead and bruising Bart Starr’s ribs, putting him out for the rest of the game.
The Colts pushed out to a 10-0 lead by halftime. However the Packers fought back to force overtime. In overtime Don Chandler nailed the game winning field goal and put the Packers back in the championship game.
1965 World Championship
On a muddy field, the Packers met the Cleveland Browns in the 1965 championship game. The Packers’ great running back tandem of Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung had begun to lose a step. After five straight 1000 yard seasons, Taylor only had 734 yards and Hornung added only 299 over the course of the season. The Packers had been surviving on the passing of Bart Starr and their #1 defense.
On this day they would meet the great Jim Brown. Their strategy was to plug the middle of the field and force Brown outside where he was forced to cut on a muddy field.
The plan worked.
Brown struggled to find his footing on the sloppy field and only gained 50 yards the whole day.
On the other side of the ball, Taylor and Hornung came alive with Taylor putting up 96 yards in the ground and Hornung topping the hundred yard mark with 105. In addition, Starr, bruised ribs and all, threw for 128 yards.
Cleveland kicked a field goal at the end if the first quarter that put them ahead. It would be the last time they would see the lead and the last time they would even score.
The Packers closed out the 1965 season with a 23-12 win in the World Championship and posted their ninth such championship.