(GREEN BAY) - There have been many exhibitions of superlative passing through the years at City Stadium, but none better than the show put on Sunday by Jim
Finks as he pitched the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 21-20
victory over the Packers. What the Steeler quarterback did to
the Bays in the NFL opener shouldn't happen to an up and
coming pro football team. Just to show you how badly he had
them running in circles, take a quick gander at his personal
box score. Three touchdown passes and a total of 27
completions in 40 attempts for a murderous total of 327
yards. Yes, it was murder - absolutely murder and something
that had to be seen to be fully appreciated. The only thing
that the 20,675 fans must be wondering is how the Packers
managed to keep the score so close. It was amazing, and
certainly not the fault of Finks and those rugged line partners
who gave him almost perfect protection.
Not only did Liz Blackbourn's boys come that close, but they
actually led through most of the game - never trailed, in fact,
until late in the fourth quarter when Finks fired 37 yards to one
of his best and favorite batterymates, Ray Mathews, for the
score that finally buried the home forces. Come to think of it,
the Steelers just did manage to win, for Paul Held came
dangerously close to stubbing his toe on the vital tie-breaking
conversions attempt. The ball eased its way over the crossbar
with practically nothing to spare. Ed Kissell did the honors
more decisively after Fink's first and second TD shots - a 14-
yarder to Johnny Lattner in the first period and a 2-yarder to
Elbie Nickel in the second. The Packers never could muster
much in the way of concentrated offense. The two times they
managed to do so, the fumble play - the most damaging
known to football - bobbed up to plague them fairly deep in
enemy territory.
So they had to take the long road and almost made it by
striking from distant points four times. The first one, a thrilling
69-yard dash by Breezy Reid on a quick opener, gave them a
7-0 lead. The second, a 44-yard pass from Tobin Rote to Billy
Howton, put them ahead again early in the second quarter.
Fred Cone drilled a place kick between the uprights from 45
yards out later in the same period and connected again from
32 yards in the third. The Bays led at the half, 17-14, and
upped the count to 20-14, thanks to Cone. With that, they
were forced to rest their case and try to stave off disaster that
overcame them at last - disaster in the form of Finks' passing
magic. Finks cranked up and went to work for keeps after
Reid sent Packer hopes soaring. Jim clicked on six out of
seven pitches during the 68-yard drive that was climaxed by
Lattner's score-tying catch in the end zone. The Steeler field
general was even sharper on the 69-yard march that reduced
his team's deficit to 17-14 shortly before the end of the half.
Six for six was his score that time. The shortest completion,
a fourth down flip to Nickel from the two-yard line, was the
biggest, of course. By the time the fourth quarter was showing
signs of running out, it must have been apparent to Finks that
there was no point in deviating even slightly from the aerial
pattern. So he went upstairs and stayed there following Lynn
Chadnois' fair catch of Max McGee's punt back on
Pittsburgh's 28. Mr. Pitch threw six times, found a receiver
four times, and gained the same effect by an interference call
on another. No Packer defender was even close to Mathews
as he fielded the payoff toss.
The truth is that it might have been an even unhappier ending for the Bays. Chadnois dropped a pass that probably would have meant a touchdown early in the game, and a short one to Nickel in the end zone came dangerously close to clicking in the opening minutes of the final period. The statistics indicate how badly Rote fared in the anticipated passing duel with Finks. Tobin had to settle for a modest five out of 18. In all fairness, however, it should be pointed out that the Packer quarterback's protection didn't compare with the "iron ring" set up by the Steelers. Conversely, the visitors were on the beam and the Bay's weren't. Pat Brady, Pittsburgh's talented left footed punter, wound up with an outstanding average of 48 yards, thanks to a 72-yard effort that knocked the last semblance of victory hope out of the Packers two minutes before the final gun. One of the happiest eyewitnesses was Gene Ronzani, former Packer head coach who sat on the Steelers bench in the role of key assistant to head man Walt Kiesling. Curly Lambeau, first and only Packer head coach until Ronzani took over, saw the game from the press box. Curly recently was fired from the top spot at Washington and is currently unattached.
PITTSBURGH -  7  7  0  7 - 21
GREEN BAY  -  7 10  3  0 - 20
1st - GB - Reid, 69-yard run (Cone kick) GREEN BAY 7-0
1st - PITT - Johnny Lattner, 14-yard pass from Jim Finks (Ed Kissell kick) TIED 7-7
2nd - GB - Howton, 44-yard pass from Rote (Cone kick) GREEN BAY 14-7
2nd - GB - Cone, 45-yard field goal GREEN BAY 17-7
2nd - PITT - Elbie Nickel, 2-yard pass from Finks (Kissell kick) GREEN BAY 17-14
3rd - GB - Cone, 32-yard field goal GREEN BAY 20-14
4th - PITT - Ray Matthews, 37-yard pass from Finks (Paul Held kick) PITTSBURGH 21-20
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) 21, Green Bay Packers (0-1) 20
Sunday September 26th 1954 (at Green Bay)
SEPTEMBER 27 (Philadelphia) - A $2,100,000 anti-trust suit will be filed against the NFL and nine of its clubs in federal District Court here tomorrow, NFL Commissioner Bert Bell disclosed here today. Two Dallas attorneys, representing the trustee of the bankrupt Liberty Broadcasting System, Inc., today gave Bell a copy of a complaint they said they planned to file tomorrow. Bell said the attorneys "started to talk about making a settlement and I said, 'We settle with no one.' " The contemplated suit charges that the NFL "has illegally adopted and maintained, throughout the United States of America...a system of authorizing the broadcasting of professional football games in such manner as to restrain trade unlawfully in broadcasting and to maintain a monopoly of broadcasting" in the home territories of NFL clubs. The suit names besides the NFL, the Chicago Bears, Chicago Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Washington Redskins as defendants.
SEPTEMBER 28 (Washington) - The Washington Redskins released tackle Paul Lipscomb, a 10-year veteran, and picked up Nick Adduci, linebacker from Nebraska. Lipscomb formerly played with the Green Bay Packers. Adduci had a tryout with the Packers but was released before the league season opened.
SEPTEMBER 29 (Chicago Tribune) - The Chicago Bears moved back into Wrigley field yesterday to set up season headquarters and take a check of mementos brought back from Sunday's encouraging but unsuccessful effort at Detroit. Coach George Halas found Billy Stone apparently was none the worse for his brief appearance against the Lions and probably would be ready to face the Packers in Green Bay on Sunday. George Connor was banged up about the legs, but fortunately none of the bruises were around the knee that had handicapped him in Sunday's game. McNeil Moore, Halas learned, was not seriously hurt. Daily workouts in the future will be held in Wrigley field, Halas announced.
SEPTEMBER 30 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - Woe is the life of a professional football coach trying to build something of a really run-down club. Such is the case of Liz Blackbourn, third coach of the Packers in 36 years, who is desperately trying to renew some of that glory of old in Green Bay. Liz himself makes no bones about his tremendous task. "The Packers were really a run-down ballclub when I took over," said Blackbourn. "And we still haven't got sufficient balance at any position. Our rookies have been somewhat of a disappointment," added Liz. "Only end Max McGee has come through the way we wanted him to. But we haven't got first class material. Our backfield is just ordinary." Sunday's 21-20 loss to Pittsburgh was probably Blackbourn's most miserable day at his new job. The Packers had drubbed the Steelers 35-14, in an August exhibition game, and were a touchdown favorite to win again. But they jumped into Jimmy Finks, who, without a doubt, was the hottest passer in the NFL Sunday. "Finks really pin-pointed those passes," commented Blackbourn. "He drove them through area you wouldn't believe." However, Blackbourn admitted after viewing the films that his pass defense, along with loose tackling, helped Finks have a great afternoon. Sunday the Packers face the bid bad Bears - a club Blackbourn figures is three touchdowns better than last year. And if Pittsburgh was aerial minded, watch out for Chicago. "They're averaging three passes for every run with (George) Blanda doing the pitching," emphasized Liz. "Sure, they lost to the Lions (48-23) but they gained 348 yards passing, almost 100 yards more than Detroit." What will the Packers counter with? Don't be too surprised if rookie Bobby Garrett, obtained in the Cleveland deal, starts at quarterback. If Garrett starts he won't be alternated with Tobin Rote. "When I'm ready to use a quarterback I won't alternate him," stressed Blackbourn. "I can't see sending him in and out. Good quarterbacks in this league just aren't shuffled." "One thing about Rote," pointed Liz, "is that he is more tempted to throw the long ones once we're behind. He's more interested in boosting the score rather than pickup yardage on shorter ones." The Pittsburgh defeat was bitter to take but it hasn't disheartened the Packers. Blackbourn's organization is something wonderfully different in Green Bay.
SEPTEMBER 30 (Green Bay) - The Green Bay Packers intensified passing offense drills in workouts today as they prepare for Sunday's game with the Chicago Bears at Green Bay. Coach LizBlackbourn said he doesn't feel the squad measured up to their full ability last Sunday when they were upset 21-20 by the Pittsburgh Steelers' snappy aerial attack. Blackbourn is counting on defensive halfback David "Jim" Psaltis to strengthen the Packers' pass defense. Psaltis, recently acquired from the Chicago Cardinals, brings the Packers' active roster to the legal player limit of 33. He was regarded as the leading college defensive halfback when he plays for Southern California in 1952. Psaltis was the Cardinals' No. 2 draft choice in 1953. He was a teammate with Packer halfback Al Carmichael on Southern California's Rose Bowl team of 1952 which defeated Wisconsin. However, Psaltis was injured at the time and did not play in the game.
OCTOBER 1 (Green Bay) - Bear fever is mounting again in Green Bay as time for the Chicagoans' annual invasion nears. It's always that way when the Packers await the ancient enemy and the renewal of pro football's No. 1 traditional series. Perhaps always will be, much in the manner of a collegiate classic, say Wisconsin-Minnesota. Lean years of good years, it's the BIG game. In one important respect, however, there has been a marked change through the years. There was a time when the first battle would go a long way toward deciding the championship, for the Packers and Bears, almost without fail, were certain to be in the thick of the title scramble all the way. It's different now - sharply different. No longer are the time honored rivals the teams to beat. They're hungry now. Really hungry. They don't have that championship glint in their eyes. They have no good reason to be thinking of going all the way. Rather, it's a case of fighting to stay within hailing distance of admittedly stronger clubs; fighting to stay out of last place instead of hoping to climb to the top. No one can deny that the Bays and Bears have had more than their share of glory in the past. Go back 25 years and start thumbing through the pages of Packer history. Three straight championships in 1929-30-31. Runner-up in 1932, third in 1933-34, the first years of divisional play. Second in the western division in 1935 and back to the top the following year when they beat Boston in the championship playoff. Second in 1937 and then first in the division two years running, losing to New York in the 1938 playoff and beating those same Giants in '39. Runner-up to the Bears the next four years, followed by still another championship, their last, in 1944. The Giants were the victims that year, too. Green Bay managed to stay within shooting distance of the top in finishing third in the divisional race in 1945-46-47. If there were fears at the time that the club has started to hit the toboggan, they were verified with a 3-9 record for fourth place in 1948 and 2-10 for the bottom spot the following year, Curly Lambeau's last. The best mark since then was 6-6 for fourth place in 1952. Last year the Bays were at the bottom again. Ten long years since the last glorious fling! It was much the same story with the Bears. Not far off the top in 1930-31; then two championships and a divisional crown. In the playoff in the 1937-40-41-42-43-46, with four of those title bids winding up successfully. With rare exceptions, they were the real challengers when they weren't winning, as second place in the western division fight four years running (1947-50) will attest. Old Halas U. defied the law of averages longer than their favorite sparring partners from Green Bay. But the big, bad Bears finally had to bow, too. They dropped to fourth place in their section in 1951, were pushed down to fifth two years ago and were back in fourth last year only because Baltimore and the Packers found the going even rougher. The 1954 pre-season results add to the rocky road theme. The Bears broke even in six starts while the Packers won two and lost four. And it's also a matter of record that they wound up on the short end of the score in the league openers last week. The Packers were outmaneuvered, 21-20, by Pittsburgh while the Bears were taking a 48-23 shellacking from defending champion Detroit. Hungry? Practically starved is more like it. So you can bet your last dime those Packers and Bears will be chewing at each strictly for keeps, starting at 1:30 Sunday at City Stadium in Green Bay.
OCTOBER 1 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - For a guy interested in begonias, you'd hardly think his livelihood was pro football. But Ed Sprinkle of the Bears mixes flowers with footballs and enjoys both. Off the gridiron "Sprink" is a country gentleman with his garden hobby, but on the turf he's a typical monster from the midway. Sprinkle, the "daddy" of the 1954 Bears, will be the oldest man (31) on the field Sunday at City Stadium in Green Bay when the Bruins and Packers renew pro football's oldest rivalry. This will be Sprinkle's 11th season with Chicago. He's the only remaining member of the 1946 world championship team. But he'll be the same old No. 7 as far as the Packers are concerned - a ruthless Bruins...Packer halfback Breezy Reid appears to be on his way to the best season of his career. Against the Steelers he gained 95 yards in 10 attempts with one of his jaunts being for 69 yards and a touchdown. This run from scrimmage was the fourth longest if Packer history, being surpassed by Andy Uram's 97 yarder in 1939; a 73-yard dash by Billy Grimes in 1950 and Ralph Earhart's 72-yard sprint in 1948. Since Green Bay acquired Reid in 1950 he has played in 48 straight games. His nickname (Breezy) comes from his locker room oratory. The only respite his teammates have had from his constant chatter was after the Redskins game when he injured his throat and was unable to talk...The Bears, although losing to the Lions, 48-23, are pegged as one of the most improved teams in the league. Acquisition of 220-pound fullback Chick Jagade from the Browns is one of the chief reasons for owner-coach George Halas' optimism. Jagade accounted for 49 yards rushing against the Lions, but the Bears ended up with just a net 39 yards on the ground. The offensive show was strictly George Blanda's pitching which outgained Bobby Layne, 348 yards to 268...The Packers should be physically at their best for the Bears with end Bobby Mann returning to the lineup. Only linebacker Deral Teteak, out six weeks with a broken ankle, will be sidelined. Teteak is expected to be ready against the 49ers at Milwaukee October 10...The Bears have a 41-24 edge in their bitter series with the Packers. Six games have ended in ties, including the 21-21 deadlock last season in Chicago. A sellout crowd of 24,668 will be on hand Sunday.
OCTOBER 2 (Green Bay) - It's been four years since the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears at City Stadium and the 72nd game between the old NFL rivals looks to be the same pattern. The pre-game odds on the game, which will attract the usual sellout crowd, favor the Bears by three points despite their opening 48-32 loss to the champion Detroit Lions. The reason is that the Packers were disappointing in their opener here a week ago, losing to Pittsburgh, 21-20. Coach Liz Blackbourn, obviously chagrined that his charges spoiled his pro debut in losing one of the game they were supposed to win this year, held vigorous practice sessions all week. A tip that no punches were pulled in the drills was the fact they were held behind locked gates. The Packers' primary trouble with the Steelers a week ago was a porous pass defense which permitted 357 yards. The Bears, with veteran George Blanda and rookie Zeke Bratkowski at the throttle, are expected to use the aerial route a goodly share of the time, too. Blackbourn, in an effort to bolster his saggy secondary, picked up Jim Psaltis from the Chicago Cardinals during the week. Psaltis, a defensive specialist, played on the same Southern Cal team with Al Carmichael, now a Packer offensive halfback. The Packer offense, with Tobin Rote handling the quarterbacking all the way, produced only two touchdowns against the Steelers. The veteran passer almost surely will get the call again, but the word is that rookie Bobby Garrett of Stanford, a standout as a collegian a year ago, will get into the act, too. Rote is a long pass specialist, with Garrett at best on short ones. Both Billy Howton and Bobby Mann, the Packers' ace receivers, will be ready for action. So will Carmichael and Veryl (Swish) Switzer, the Kansas State kid, also able receivers. Switzer may do a bit of double duty, too, moving into the defensive secondary if the current operators slip badly again.
OCTOBER 2 (Green Bay) - Once proud and defiant as the biggest little town in professional football, Green Bay was surprisingly calm tonight as the Chicago Bears and the hometown Packers awaited tomorrow's kickoff in the 70th renewal of the National league's most glamorous rivalry. For the first time in the memory of even the oldest citizens, tickets in all price ranges still were available at the box office, a circumstance that served eloquently to emphasize how they might have fallen. It was Saturday night before the Bear game on the calendar, but a typical Tuesday night in Green Bay. George Halas, who has been making these trips from the Loop since 1921, and taking his life in his hands on practically every appearance, attempted unsuccessfully to stir up a modicum of the old excitement today by announcing the signing of Paul Lipscomb, a 250 pound tackle who once was a hero among Adams St. in the days when Green Bay still was taking its football seriously. But today Green Bay was more interested in the World Series and hunting. Lipscomb was signed as a free agent, following his release by Washington recently, and will play right tackle on defense tomorrow. Green Bay, playing its first season under Lisle Blackbourn, a coaching recruit from college ranks, was far from impressive on pass defense in its league opener against Pittsburgh last week and after looking at the Bears' aerial attack against Detroit on television the other night, local fans feared nothing but disaster on the morrow. This could quite easily be another argument against television. Before the coaxial cable came through Packer fans never were forewarned and ticket racks always were clear. Blackbourn hopes to counteract some of the Bear passing attack with an aerial bombardment of its own, now that Bob Mann, an excellent receiver, is ready to team up with Tobin Rote and Bill Howton. He
also looks for yeomen service from Breezy Reid, a fleet halfback, and Fred Cone, a fullback, who spearheaded the Packers' running attack last week. Reid in particular was outstanding in the 21 to 20 losing battle against Pittsburgh. Zeke Bratkowski and George Blanda will handle the Bear quarterbacking again tomorrow, with Bratkowski in all probability starting the game in a backfield with Jim Dooley, Billy Stone and the indefatigable Chuck Jagade. Stone, who has been injured, said tonight he was ready to go again.
OCTOBER 3 (Green Bay) - The Packers and Bears, pro football's bitterest rivals, battle for the 72nd time at City Stadium Sunday in clash destined to produce a floormat of the Western Division. It isn't what it used to be with these once-proud championship contenders. The Packers haven't come close to a title in the past nine years and Chicago's last pennant winner was its 1946 club. Both clubs lost their 1954 openers and a second consecutive defeat will sink the loser to the bottom of the heap in the unbalanced western section. Yet it's still a grudge fight as far as Packer fans are concerned. A typical sellout crowd (24,668) will sit in on the game with every assurance of good weather forecasted. Coach Liz Blackbourn, whose gang dropped a disappointing 21-20 thriller to Pittsburgh last week, will be seeking to discover the answer as to why his Packers have been forced to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns to climax prolonged marches. Then too, Blackbourn will be especially concerned as to how his pass defense operates against such capable quarterbacks as George Blanda and Zeke Bratkowski. It was a nightmare against the Steelers' Jimmy Finks. There is every indication that this season's edition of George Halas' Bruins will be the passingest team in Bear history. Blanda's aerials drove Detroit dizzy last Sunday. However, when the Bears got too close for comfort, the Lions countered with spectacular defensive play which dazed and completely baffled Mr. Halas. Blackbourn has indicated rookie quarterback Bobby Garrett might start against the Bears. If that's true it will be the former Stanford aces's debut in league action.