OCTOBER 5 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - The Packers aren't dead
yet - far from it. Sure, they've lost their first two league games -
but only by eight points. There is a general feeling in the
Packer camp that the club is bound to start clicking. Few clubs
in the NFL have undertaken as massive a rebuilding program as
the Packers. Coach Liz Blackbourn's gang showed progressive
improvement on the exhibition trail. There's no question that
Green Bay lacks the horses like San Francisco, Los Angeles
or Detroit - but not in spirit. "We haven't played a ball game this
season that we could not have won," was Blackbourn's
comment following the Bear defeat. "But a mistake here and
there - and bang!" Against every opponent since Blackbourn has
taken command, the Packers have had a considerable
statistical aggregate lead. The record shows they can move the
ball - but those costly mistakes! "We're going to do our
darndest to correct our faults and weaknesses," stressed
Blackbourn. And that's the kind of a guy Blackbourn is. He will
try his darndest and then some. Ask any observer watching the
Packers drill. They've never seen a harder working man
coaching in Green Bay before. Still shifting players, the club
Monday released defensive halfback Don Miller and added offensive end Gary Knafelc. Knafelc, a 210, 6-3 Colorado product, was a free agent after being released by the Cardinals. Miller had been obtained from the Browns in the Babe Parilli-Bobby Garrett deal. Quarterback Tobin Rote, whose ankle was twisted by a Bear, is reported to be OK. The rest of the squad came out of the game in good shape. Sunday's test against the 49ers is the first meeting with a powerhouse. "The 49ers have a tremendous running backfield," said Blackbourn. Hugh McElhenny is great. Joe Perry is great and so is John Henry Johnson. That's a million dollar attraction to see in Milwaukee County Stadium. It's the greatest break-away backfield in the league with a good passing attack to mix things up. The toughies are coming to town, but don't give up on the Packers. They're bound to explode soon - then watch out.
OCTOBER 6 (San Francisco) - The injury-plagued 49ers
heard the good news Wednesday that a former 252-
pound starting tackle is being discharged from the Army
and will rejoin the team immediately. Bob Toneff, All-
American tackle at Notre Dame in 1951, is en route
home from Germany and may join the pro football team
in Milwaukee where the 49ers will play the Packers
OCTOBER 7 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - The 49ers are
coming to town Sunday with Joe "Jet" Perry, "Hurryin"
Hugh McElhenny and Y.A. Tittle - but coming with them
is a new sparkler who has a head start on rookie of the
year honors. John Henry Johnson is the most talked
about player to come to San Francisco since Frankie
Albert quarterbacked the 49ers. The 6-2, 205-pound
halfback found Canadian football a soft touch and
decided to make his name in the NFL. Pittsburgh
nabbed Johnson early in the '53 draft but he decided
to go to Canada where he was named the most
valuable player in the Western Interprovincial Football
Union. The writers up north named him to five positions.
Just to show how good Johnson is, he shoved capable
Joe Arenas out of a starting role with the 49ers to give
coach Buck Shaw a "million dollar" backfield to use
against the Packers at County Stadium Sunday....For
a guy who kicked only one extra point during his three
years of college play, Packer fullback Fred Cone is
becoming quite a place kicking specialist. Cone booted
five field goals in each of the 1951 and '53 season -
but this year he has already booted three in five
attempts (one was blocked). Long hours of practice and
fine tutelage by Ted Fritsch, former Packer fullback,
have been responsible for Cone's success. "Fritsch
taught me all I know about kicking," was Cone's
reasoning. Incidentally, Cone never played high school
football. And it wasn't until after a hitch in the Army that he enrolled at Clemson and started to play football. As a sophomore he won a regular fullback job and during three years of college football was one of the outstanding players in the Atlantic Coast Conference...Breezy Reid continues to be the Packers' workhorse, gaining 166 yards in 25 attempts for a sensational 6.6 average...Tobin Rote has completed 17 of 40 passes for 293 yards...Billy Howton is Rote's No. 1 target, catching seven aerials for 169 yards and scoring one touchdown...The 49ers have won five straight over the Packers after losing in Green Bay, 25-21, in 1950. This season San Francisco won its opening, crushing the Redskins, 41-7, and last Sunday battled the Rams to a 24-24 deadlock. The Ram affair was a killer as far as the 49ers were concerned. Art Michalik, middle guard, and Don Burke, linebacker, are out of the season. Tittle suffered a fractured left hand but was fitted with a plastic cast and will be ready to pitch against the Packers.
(GREEN BAY) - The Packers fumbled the ball away only once
of the rain-soaked, semi-gooey City Stadium field Sunday
afternoon. But what a brutally damaging bobble it was, for it
cost them the ball game - a 10-3 affair with the Bears,
remarkable well-played under the prevailing conditions. Almost
as remarkable was the fact that the crowd of 24,414, just a
shade of absolute capacity, dared to show up with a threat of
more rain after a total downfall of more than three inches the
past few days. Except for the last few minutes of the first
half, the faithful didn't need their raincoats, overshoes,
umbrellas and other bits of equipment designed to beat the
elements, it should be noted. The customers, almost all of
them naturally pulling hard for the home club, had every reason
to be in a happy mood as the Packers, obviously keyed for the
season's best effort, outplayed the ancient enemy from Chicago
through the scoreless first half.
Things looked even better when the Bays moved into what
looked like a safe lead on Fred Cone's beautiful 38-yard field
goal early in the third quarter. Hopes continued to mount as
coach Liz Blackbourn's operators stayed in encouraging
command until the second last play of that fateful third period.
It was at that point of the rugged battle that the fumble hoodoo
smeared mud all over the rosy picture and a Packer alumnus,
Paul Lipscomb, popped up to haunt the club from which he
once drew his pay. The Bays were pinned back deep in their
own territory, following Zeke Bratkowski's fine punt, when Tobin
Rote, swinging to his right on a keeper play, was jolted hard.
The ball slithered out of his arms and was up for grabs behind
the line of scrimmage. The 225-pound Lipscomb, released by
Washington early in the week and signed only Saturday by the
Bears, finally pounced on it only seven yards from the home
team's goal line.
The grown coming out of the stands must have been heard up
and down the Fox River Valley for the fans seemed to sense
this was it. They were right, for on the third play thereafter - the
second of the final period - George Blanda pitched a
touchdown pass to Billy Stone, who made a nifty catch in the
corner of the end zone. The official gain was five yards, but the
yardage was unimportant. Blanda converted and added three
superfluous points five minutes later on a 23-yard placekick.
But those happenings mattered not at all. The Blanda-Stone
pitch and catch act was the thing. With it, the Packers'
second bid for a NFL victory in 1954 went down the drain. Oh
that fumble: And oh, that spook Lipscomb: Why couldn't
Washington have seen fit to keep him?
The Packers were in scoring position often enough to win this
low scoring game several times over, as this summary will
attest. They were within hailing distance on eight occasions -
on the Bears' 23, 48, 34, 31, 22, 36, 24 and 45. Four times
they penetrates beyond midfield on their own. Pass
interceptions by Val Joe Walker and Gene White set up two
opportunities, and John Martinkovic another with a fumble
recovery. Still another came on Bratkowski's short punt, a 15-
yarder that he was lucky to get off late in the game. But all
those chances produced only one field goal, plus two other
ties by Cone from 38 and 28 yards out. The first sailed wide in
the opening quarter and the last was blocked in the third.
Something always happened - a pass just over a receiver's
reach, a penalty, thrown for a loss in a key spot and so on.
Always something.
The Bears' best opening before their vital touchdown was
provided by Wayne Hanson, who rambled 57 yards to the
Packer 22 after intercepting Bobby Garrett's pass late in the first quarter. Clarence Self snuffed out that threat by fielding Blanda's pass on the 19. Old Halas U. was on the home club's 21 and again on the 28 in the second canto. Blanda muffed a 28-yard field goal shot the first time and Harry Jagade's fumble ended the second bid abruptly. Then it was no dice for the visitors until the big break came. Their only real drive preceded Blanda's successful boot from the field. It was mainly a two play deal at that - a 19-yard gallop by Blanda when rushing defenders overran him and a 30-yard pass, Blanda to John Hoffman. The Packers, as you will note, won the battle of statistics, even more than the figures show, considering that the Bears picked up 51 of their 230 yards after the Bays hash was pretty well cooked. Blackbourn's boys had a slight edge in both passing and running. Breezy Reid was the boss runner with 71 yards on 15 carries. His top gain was 19 yards, the big one in moving the ball into position for Cone's successful field goal. The only challenge came from Jagade, who ground out 66 yards on 17 tries. Rote's big pitches were to Billy Howton for 45 and 26 yards, and to Al Carmichael for 45. Howton and Stone of the Bears tied for receiving honors with four each. But the Packers ace had a wide edge in total yards, 100 to 38. Carmichael caught three for 64. The Packer defense looked better than at any other time this season. It would be almost unfair to single out any of the front liners - Jerry Helluin, Dave Hanner, Bill Forester, Stretch Elliott, Clayton Tonnemaker, Roger Zatkoff and Martinkovic. But an extra pat on the back for Elliott is in order. The lanky Virginian did a terrific rushing job and generally conducted himself like a top-flight pro end.
CHICAGO BEARS -  0  0  0 10 - 10
GREEN BAY     -  0  0  3  0 -  3
3rd - GB - Cone, 40-yard field goal GREEN BAY 3-0
4th - CHI - Billy Stone, 5-yard pass from George Blanda (Blanda kick) CHICAGO 7-3
4th - CHI - Blanda, 23-yard field goal CHICAGO 10-3
Green Bay Packers end Billy Howton catches a pass in a 10-3 loss to the Chicago Bears on October 3, 1954 in City Stadium in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Vernon Biever/NFL)
Chicago Bears (1-1) 10, Green Bay Packers (0-2) 3
Sunday October 3rd 1954 (at Green Bay)
OCTOBER 8 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - Often a "bridesmaid" but never a "bride" has been the 49ers' success in professional football. San Francisco, which meets the
Packers at County Stadium Sunday, played second fiddle to
the Browns in four years of All-American Conference play. Since
joining the NFL in 1950, the 49ers have had to settle as a
contender and never a champion. This season it's a "shoot the
works" affair for the 49ers and they're making no bones that
this finally could be San Francisco's championship year. Off to
a good start, the 49ers breezed through six straight exhibitions
triumphs, crushed the Redskins in the league opener and tied
the rough Rams last week. San Francisco hasn't been beaten
since Cleveland turned the trick, 23-21, last November. Buck
Shaw, the only coach known in San Francisco, has four solid
reasons why his 49ers can go all the way this year.
1 - Fullback Joe Perry - Has plowed 137 yards in 16 carries in
two games for a sensational 8.6 average. Perry is gunning for
his second straight rushing championship.
2 - Halfback Hugh McElhenny - Has romped for 134 yards in 20
tries for a 6.7 average. All-Pro in 1952-53, he has a head start
on the honor again this season.
3 - Halfback Joe Henry Johnson - As a rookie, he has galloped 70 yards in 10 carries for a 7.0 average.
4 - Quarterback Y.A. Tittle - Has completed 39 of 65 passes (60 percent) for 436 yards. He'll be playing Sunday with a special cast on his left hand, as the result of an injury sustained in the Ram game.
It's hardly a wonder the 49ers are the greatest drawing attraction in pro football. San Francisco averaged 49,000 on the road last season. Loaded? - Man, they're human dynamite! "But look at our casualty list," screams Shaw. "You'd think the rest of the league was laying for the 49ers." Gordon Soltau suffered a shoulder separation against the Giants August 15 and will be used only for field goal and conversions. He won't be able to get into contact for three or four weeks. Linebacker Jack Manley was racked up by the Redskins. He will be out all season. Quarterback Arnie Galiffa sustained a broken right hand against the Redskins and will be out for six weeks. And against the Rams it's well known that Tittle broke his hand while lineman Don Burke and Art Michalik suffered knee injuries and will be out the rest of the season. It's been murder in the pro circuit as far as Tittle is concerned. Last year the Lions tore his cheek bone and he played the rest of the season with a mask. But what a competitor Y.A. is - while playing against the Rams with a broken hand he stayed in and had one of the greatest afternoons completing 23 of 35 passes for 268 yards. That's the kind of a gang playing for 'Frisco. They're shooting the works for one thing at all costs - the NFL title.
OCTOBER 9 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - It's going to be "Liz Blackbourn Day" at the Stadium Sunday when the Packers tangle with the 49ers - and a unique fan club is hoping for a crowd in excess of 20,000. However, selling Milwaukee a losing Packer team has always been a chore. Green Bay lost its first two league games by only eight points and San Francisco is a 16-point choice to nail the Packers. The Society of Liz Blackbourn Admirers Forever (SOLBAF) has canvassed the Milwaukee area for weeks. Members figure the most appreciated gift for Liz would be a good turnout for the Packers' league opener in Milwaukee. San Francisco represents the best draw in pro football. To top things off the weather outlook for Sunday calls for generally fair skies with a high temperature of 70. Blackbourn will be presented a huge plaque by Committee Chairman Harvey Leiser, 15 minutes before game time. It reads: "Presented to Lisle (Liz) Blackbourn for his incomparable record of achievement in coaching and community activities - from former teammates, friends and members of SOLBAF." Blackbourn and his wife will also receive furniture, wearing apparel, a wrist watch and a $100 wallet. County Stadium will have an unusual football appearance. Unlike last season the infield will not be sodded. The Packers found out last year that the sod did not have a chance to take root and rolled like a rug when the going got tough. The field is reported to be in excellent shape. The 49ers will arrive from Chicago Saturday afternoon and headquarter at the Ambassador Hotel. Green Bay will also arrive Saturday and stay at the Astor Hotel.
OCTOBER 10 (Milwaukee) - "We're as ready as we'll ever be." That was the Packers' chant Saturday night as they arrived in town to tackle the title-bidding 49ers at the Stadium Sunday. Kickoff is 1:30 p.m. The 49ers are a solid 16-point favorite. It's the first clash with a real toughie for Green Bay which lost its only two league starts, but only by eight points. San Francisco is hardly in the "also-run" class of the Bears and Steelers who edged the Packers. The 49ers are loaded and they're making no bones about shooting the works this season for the NFL title - something they've never accomplished since being admitted in 1950. Only a 24-24 bruising tie with the Rams last week mars the 49ers' title goal. And now it's the Packers, a club San Francisco has beaten five out of six times and 37-7 in the snow at County Stadium last November. Coach Liz Blackbourn has extensively drilled his offensive machinery all week in an attempt to tune it for an all-out performance Sunday. Actually, Green Bay's defense has been up to par. But in passing there has been inefficiency. Quarterback Tobin Rote, one of the league's very best two years ago, has a .298 completion average this season. That was not good enough against the Bears and Steelers and hardly could raise havoc with a club like San Francisco. Rote has looked terrific all week in drills, reports Blackbourn. It is likely rookie Bobby Garrett will see plenty of action Sunday if Rote can't find the range. Outside of passing, the Packers' offense has been effective, especially halfback Breezy Reid, who is having his best year. But those 49ers! There's nothing in the league comparable to the "million dollar" backfield - Y.A. Tittle, John Henry Johnson, Hugh McElhenny and Joe Perry. Tittle will be playing with a cast on his left hand broken in the Ram game. If it bothers Y.A. too much, coach Buck Shaw indicated that newcomer Jimmy Casson, a defensive halfback by trade, will get the nod directing play. Casson has been effective in drills this week and spelled Tittle in two exhibition games. He's an excellent ball handler but can't compare to Tittle as a passer. The only Packer who probably won't see action is end Gary Knafelc, rookie who was picked up as a free agent from the Cardinals this week. Knafelc pulled a leg muscle in drills.