NFL CHAMPIONSHIP - New York Giants (8-2-1) 23, Green Bay Packers (8-3) 17
Sunday December 11th 1938 (at New York)
GAME RECAP (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE)
(NEW YORK) - A titanic struggle of the professional gridiron, started in broad daylight before 48,120 and ended under the floodlights, yesterday afternoon gave the New York Giants the championship of the NFL, as they outmaneuvered the Green Bay Packers, Western title holder, for a 23 to 17 triumph. It was one of the most sensationally spectacular combats ever staged under the league banner, with the issue never decided, the players never relaxed until the very last thrust of the day. The Packers, outplayed decisively at the outset and buried under a 9 to 0 New York spurt,
ripped from behind in the third period and took over a 17
to 16 lead, only to relinquish that small but vital margin
before a slashing Giant counterattack that would not be
denied. Statistically, the Packers appear to have
outplayed their formidable rivals of the Atlantic seaboard
but the Giants looked like the better team much of the
way. They couldn't stop Green Bay's Carl Mulleneaux
from grasping a depth bomb pass from the arm of Arnie
Herber in the second period; they couldn't keep Clarke
Hinkle from charging across the goal line for the second
Packer touchdown, a short time later; and they had no
defense against Tiny Engebretsen's sharply kicked 15-
yard field goal in the third stanza. But they got the ball
in position for Ward Cuff's 14-yard field boot in the first
period; they hurled Tuffy Leemans across from the 6-
yard line soon afterwards; they shook Feets Barnard
home with a forward pass from Ed Danowski before the
half; and in their all-important third period victory drive they executed a final aerial insult, Danowski to Soar, for the touchdown that placed the final dent in the Packer hopes. Not one bit of credit should be taken from the Packers for a magnificent stand against a New York team inspired beyond all reasonable heights, playing before an enthralled crowd which set a new metropolitan record for professional football enthusiasm. The Packers gave every bit they had counter-charging from one disheartening break after another, turning back many a Giant offensive sally, wearing themselves out in a valiant but vain attempt to check the inroads of an opponent which wouldn't recognize defeat.
HAVE GREAT TEAM
But the better team won Sunday. Make no doubt of that. The New York Giants looked the equal of any team which ever stepped on a National league gridiron, and the championship of that circuit today rests with a team which, in possessing it, does so entirely with honor. Hank Soar, Danowski, and Leemans were the offensive spearheads of the penetrating New York attack, but they were only part of a Giant machine which rumbled inevitably to the highest laurel professional football offers. Jim Lee Howell and Jimmy Poole contributed an afternoon of flawless end play to the winners' cause. The outstanding man on the field was Earl (Bud) Svendsen, permitted to play by the Giants in a magnificent gesture of sportsmanship, and who must have made his rivals regret that decision many a time during the day. Around him battled a Packer team which was at times great, at times unable to cope adequately with a tremendously fired foe and heart-breaking events of the game.
BACK ONTO HEELS
The Giants set themselves up as potential victors in the very first minutes of the game, when they drove the Packers back onto their heels with a savage demonstration of blocking, tackling and charging unexcelled in National league warfare this season. They kept the invaders bottled up throughout the first period, didn't permit them a single first down, and set up that 9 to 0 margin which placed the Packers in a highly competitive position. The Packers fought back spasmodically for their two scores in the second period, but it was in the last half that Green Bay hit its true stride, matching the Giants blow for blow, gain for gain, and appearing the superior of their mighty rivals upon offense. The Packer line was parted on two occasions in the first period, when bitterly fighting Giants broke through to block Green Bay punts, and to point directly for the opening New York scores. After Cuff downed a Giant kick on the Packer 12-yard line, and Hinkle attempted a return punt from his own end zone, Howell wormed through to block the boot, the ball twisting high into the air and falling into the arms of New York's Leland Shaffer on the Packer 7-yard stripe.
STAVE OFF TOUCHDOWN
Green Bay arched its back for a great defensive display, granting Soar and Bull Karcis but one yard in two plays, and forcing Danowski to turn loose an incomplete forward pass. So Cuff stepped back to the 14-yard line and whipped over a field goal to give the Giants a 3-point lead. The next time the Packers tried to punt, the same series of events reoccurred, with Isbell's kick being blocked by Poole, Howell recovering for New York on the Green Bay 28-yard line. The Giants, appreciative of the break, slammed the ball right over. A Danowski to Leemans forward pass gained five yards, and Leemans smashed through for 17 yards on two plays, bringing the ball to the 6-yard stripe. On the next play he battered through the disorganized Packer defense for a touchdown, and when John Gildea missed the extra point kick, the score was 9 to 0.
RUN UP SCORE
It began to look like a New York field day, and it continued to do so until the midway point in the second period, when Green Bay suddenly swung the tide of battle into reverse. Tiny Engebretsen started it by getting under a Leemans forward pass which Hank Bruder batted into the air. Three plays, including a 12-yarder by Eddie Jankowski, moved the oval to the New York 40-yard line, and the Packers executed the most spectacular play of the game. Herber, perfectly protected, waded back and blasted loose a siege gun forward pass, right down the alley to the 3-yard line, where Carl Mulleneaux, one step ahead of Leemans, Gildea and Burnett, absorbed the ball and loped across the line. Engebretsen kicked the goal and the lead was cut to 9-7. It was the Giants' turn to score, and they marched 50 yards for the marker after Mel Hein recovered Jankowski's fumble in midfield. Running plays and a pass by Leemans ate up the territory to the Green Bay 21-yard line, and Danowski lofted a pass to Barnard, who caught the ball as he stepped past Uram on the 2-yard line, and breezed over the goal line. Cuff kicked the extra point and the Giants were out in front by 16 to 7. The Packers forced their opponents to recoil with a slashing counterattack after receiving the next kickoff. After some indefinite maneuvering, with the ball on the Green Bay 17-yard line, Isbell exploded an over-the-line pass which Wayland Becker speared on the dead run, traveling laterally on the Packer 35. Packer blockers carved a path for the receiver and he got loose on a jaunt down the sidelines that didn't end until Soar dragged him down on the New York 17-yard stripe, a gain of 66 yards. Isbell ripped through for eight yards on the next play, and then Hinkle was handed the apple five consecutive times, finally banging over left tackle for the touchdown from the one-yard stripe. Engebretsen kicked goal, and at half time the New York Giants lead stood at 16 to 14.
BOOTS FIELD GOAL
Prayers for a Green Bay field goal must have been rising over Wisconsin at this time in carload lots, and it was Engebretsen who obliged in the crisis, sending the Packers into the lead with a perfectly kicked field goal early in the third period. The Giants kicked off, and the Packers scored without losing the ball, looking every inch a championship football team in the process. Joe Laws hauled back the opening boot 29 yards to the Packer 32, Laws and Hinkle gained six yards in two plays, and then Bobby Monnett broke suddenly around right end on a 33-yard gallop which didn't end until he reached the Giant 29-yard stripe. Hinkle shouldered through left tackle for five yards, and Monnett was stopped. Laws gently moved the apple out in front of the posts with a carefully executed punch off left end, and from the 14-yard line Engebretsen rapped over a kick that hurtled the Packers into a 17 to 16 lead, and caused relapses all through the crowd.
TEAM OF DESTINY
But it was New York, and not Green Bay, which was football's team of destiny that day, and the Giants marched 61 yards for a touchdown to wrench the short-lived lead from the Packers. Mixing the plays beautifully, tossing short passes, skirting the ends, slicing the tackles, the Giant machine rumbled toward the Packer goal until the ball rested on the Green Bay 23-yard line. Then Danowski, who completed seven passes out of 11 he attempted during the day, turned loose his masterpiece, a flip to Soar which that fighter took near the goal line and hauled across despite the handicap of a Hinkle tackle. Desperation marked the Packers' vain attempt to attain the touchdown and extra point which would have wiped out the New York margin. The battle wave washed up and down the gridiron through the last period, but every Green Bay scoring attempt was frustrated by the supremely effective defense of the Giants. As the afternoon light faded, Polo Grounds lights were turned on, but the vitally needed touchdown pass of the Packers was never completed. 
GREEN BAY -   0 14  3  0  - 17
NEW YORK  -   9  7  7  0  - 23
1st - NY - Ward Cuff, 14-yard field goal  NEW YORK 3-0
1st - NY - Tuffy Leemans, 6-yard run (John Gildea Kick failed)  NEW YORK 9-0
2nd - GB - Mulleneaux, 50-yard pass from Herber (Engebretsen kick)  NEW YORK 9-7
2nd - NY - Hap Barnard, 20-yard pass from Ed Danowski (Cuff kick)  NEW YORK 16-7
2nd - GB - Hinkle, 6-yard run (Engebretsen kick)  NEW YORK 16-14
3rd - GB - Engebretsen, 15-yard field goal  GREEN BAY 17-16
3rd- NY - Hank Soar, 23-yard pass from Danowski (Cuff kick)  NEW YORK 23-17
NEWS AND NOTES
​GIANTS COACH CREDITS 'KIDS'
DEC 11 (New York) - It was, said Steve Owen, just a case of the Giants not letting the Green Bay Packers run through them this time. Steve is the coach of the New York team which whipped the Packers today for the National Professional Football league championship. And in going over the game, that point about his "kids" was the major impression that remained with him. The two teams had met in a regular season game two weeks ago and, although the Giants won then, too, the Packers had knifed their line to ribbons. "Yep, they tore us apart and ran through us the other time," Steve recalled after today's clash. "But not this time. Those kids of mine just made up their minds that famous Packer attack was going to be stopped. And how they stopped it."
MEET TEAM TUESDAY
DEC 12 (Green Bay) - The Packers will arrive at Green Bay on the Milwaukee Road Chippewa at 4:47 Tuesday afternoon, and plans were going forward today to give the team a reception fitting their showing against the New York Giants yesterday. The team took a terrific battering in attempting to add the league crown to its divisional championship, and all fans of Green Bay and the surrounding area are being urged to turn out to greet the team.
PACKERS STAGES UPHILL FIGHT AGAINST BIG ODDS
DEC 12 (New York) - Green Bay's Packers, professional champions of the West, went down before a New York football team here yesterday before a record playoff throng of 48,120, but they went down fighting. In defeat, the Packers staged one of the greatest battles against almost insurmountable odds in the history of pro football. Handing out a 9 to 0 advantage when ends filtered through to block first period punts, the Packers charged back to assume a brief lead in the third period, and then fell before a stupendous Giant counterattack which wouldn't be denied. Lavvie Dilweg, former Packer all-America end, who flew back to Green Bay after the contest, termed it "one of the greatest games I ever saw"...TALKS ON RADIO: Dilweg will discuss the playoff game over radio station WHBY, Green Bay, between 6:15 and 6:30 this evening. The blocking, charging, tackling and execution of plays was masterful, to say the very least, and the bare statistics of the game reveal that the Packers took their toll of the Giants, even in defeat. While the New York line was tight and effective, individual stars from tackle to tackle were hard to select. Far more brilliant from the spectator's viewpoint were the ends, Jim Lee Howell and Jim Poole, who roved the Green Bay backfield far more often than they should have. Ward Cuff, former Marquette back, played magnificent football, his blocking being exceptionally effective...SWING THE TIDE: The work of Hank Soar, Tuffy Leemans and Ed Danowski swung the tide against the Packers. Green Bay's players gave everything they had. They went down, literally fighting, for several had to be helped from the field, as in the final minutes they cracked under the terrific strain of the combat. Hard Luck Hank Bruder played much of the game at blocking quarterback, and was good luck to the Packers. Clarke Hinkle, a vicious, battling fullback, bore the major burden at that position, although relieved for a time by Eddie Jankowski...INJURY IS HANDICAP: The injury to Don Hutson had a major part in the Packers' defeat, as that brilliant end couldn't maneuver in his own unique style. Wayland Becker, Carl Mulleneaux and Bernie Scherer held up the assignment at the wings, and were heard from throughout the afternoon. Becker's 66-yard gain on a forward pass, and Mulleneaux's touchdown catch were highlights of the contest. Bob Monnett's 33-yard dash around end was a cheering spot in the Packer attack. Joe Laws, Cecil Isbell and Herman Schneidman did yeoman service during their tenures. Arnold Herber, Packer back who has been handicapped by an injury most of the season, had a great day. His power passes down the alley kept the Giants scared to death, and led directly to one touchdown, when Carl Mulleneaux gathered in the oval on the 3-yard stripe. Herber's passes had the crowd grasping. Lee Mulleneaux, Tiny Engebretsen, Frank Butler, Bill Lee, Champ Seibold, Buckets Goldenberg, Russ Letlow and Bud Svendsen were the men who did the heavy duty.
LOOKING UP IN THE REALM OF SPORTS
DEC 12 (Aboard United Airliner, Above Ohio - Sunday night) - They who live by the forward pass shall die by the forward pass, and failure to break up the aerial marksmanship of Ed Danowski from two points 30 yards out probably is as good an explanation as any why the Green Bay Packers tonight are not champions of the NFL. In looking over the statistics, you will get the idea that the Packers outplayed the Giants by a margin consistently wide, but you didn't feel that way in watching the teams as they were locked in combat at the Polo Grounds. The Giants looked as though they were capable of beating any team in the world. Alert, highly keyed, supremely confident, they were equal to every occasion, but here's an observation which Green Bay fans should not overlook: There's no need, in any sense, to be ashamed of the Packers. They tossed everything they had, every effort they could marshal into the struggle, and it wasn't enough. The Giants had the talent and the execution to get more points than Green Bay, and in that respect the bare point score is a perfect indicator of what happened. The Packers ran into enough disheartening events during the day to unnerve men of iron. Their morale was strained to the breaking point in the first period, when Giant linemen filtered through to block two successive punts, and set the stage directly for the first two New York scores. The killing blow came in the fourth period, when with Green Bay apparently marching to a final touchdown, an 18-yard forward pass gain, Herber to Gantenbein, was wiped out by a ruling which  gave the Giants possession of the ball. Officials claimed Gantenbein wasn't on the scrimmage line, and thus was ineligible to receive the pass. Gantenbein asserted vigorously that he WAS on the line, but he was overruled and the ball handed to the Giants. On the next play a horde of furious Packers swarmed through the line to smother Tuffy Leemans and an additional 15-yard penalty for roughness was dealt the Packers. This is no squawk at the officiating. The rulings may have been perfectly just, but they came at a time when they prevented Green Bay from cashing in on what appeared to be a definite, final bid for a higher score...Three names appeared in the scoring column for Green Bay, to wind up the season's changes in the Packer all-time scoring list. In scoring 239 points against National league opposition this year, the Packers carved a notable niche in gridiron history. Clarke Hinkle, who wears a big No. 30 on his playing uniform, scored his 30th touchdown as a Packer, and raised his all-time total to 239. He remains in second place, 62 points behind Verne Lewellen. Tiny Engebretsen kicked his 19th and 20th extra points, and his 9th field goal, boosting his mark to 47. He is in 20th place, one point behind Myrt Basing of the 1923-26 Packers. Only two Packers, Hinkle and Cub Buck, have booted more field goals than Engebretsen. Each has 12. Carl Mulleneaux scored his third Packer touchdown, and now has 18 points.
CUFF INJURED IN PRO GAME
DEC 12 (New York) - Ward Cuff, former Marquette football and track star, was in a New York hospital with a fractured vertebra Monday after starring in the New York Giants' 23-17 victory over the Green Bay Packers Sunday. Reports received here indicated that the injury was not believed to be serious. Cuff as hurt making a crackling tackle which helped give the Giants the game and the National Professional league championship. It happened late in the game. Herber threw a long pass to Wayland Becker. Just as Becker leaped into the air and caught the ball on the Giants' 20 yard line, Cuff hit him. The impact was heard all over the stadium and Becker fell. The ball bounded from his arms and was recovered by Lundy, Giant guard, on his own 22. The break ruined one of the Packers' last chances to tie the game. Cuff, one of the stars of Marquette's 1936 Cotton Bowl team, former Hilltop heavyweight boxing champion and holder of the university record in the javelin throw, said Monday he planned to return to Marquette and finish work for his degree in the college of arts and science. He also will assist Track Coach C.M. Jennings after he returns from an exhibition series in the west and will probably help out with spring football.
LAMBEAU HITS PASS RULING
DEC 12 (New York) - Curly Lambeau, coach of the Green Bay Packer eleven, last night charged that the officiating of Larry Conover, head linesman, in Sunday's thrilling encounter with the Giants, cost Green Bay the championship. "I don't want to say this in the form of an alibi," said Lambeau, "but in my opinion Conover was definitely wrong when, in the second period, he ruled Tuffy Leeman's pass to Len Barnum complete. Moving pictures of the play will prove that Barnum fumbled immediately, the ball going out of bounds, and that the receiver had not held it long enough to establish possession. Since that play led to a Giant touchdown, Conover's decision hurt us plenty."...MOVIES WILL SHOW: "Then, late in the last quarter, Herber threw a first down pass to Gantenbein and Conover called Gantenbein an ineligible receiver. How he arrived at such a conclusion is beyond me, because Scherer, our other end, was at least a yard behind the line of scrimmage. As a result, instead of us beng in possession in Giant territory, New York took over in our zone. The movies will prove that I'm right about this play, too." There will be no official protest by Lambeau. "There is nothing that can be done about it now," he said, "but it just isn't fair for us to lose a game on account of incompetent officiating. That's my sincere opinion."...NO SERIOUS INJURIES: Green Bay suffered no serious physical injuries, Curly said. He added that "the only thing hurt was our feelings." The squad plans to return to Green Bay tomorrow. Conover could not be reached for his version of the two rulings, but Steve Owen, coach of the Giants, said that Lambeau's version of the ineligible receiver was wrong. "Why, Gantenbein and Scherer were playing side by side on the line at the time," Owen said, "and it's to Conover's credit that he called the play as he saw it."...GIANTS HAPPY ANYWAY: The Giants were a happy group as they forced their way through the mob that attempted to pat them on the backs on their return to the dressing room. Owen praised every man for a job well done and the hilarious players shook hands and hugged each other. Owen stressed the great work of Hank Soar, Ed Danowski, Tuffy Leemans, Ward Cuff, Mel Hein, Ed Widseth, Jim Poole, Jim Lee Howell, Orville Tuttle and virtually ever man on the squad. "I think we proved beyond a doubt that we were not lucky when we beat the Packers the last time," he said. "Our blocking was great."
Only two feet short of a touchdown, Green Bay Packers Clarke Hinkle is shown as he was halted by the New York Giants in the second period of their championship game with the Packers, Dec. 11, 1938 in New York. The Giants won, 23 to 17. Other Packers players shown include Bud Svendsen (53); Cecil Isbell (17); and Bill Lee (40). Photo Credit: AP