NEWS AND NOTES
LIONS ROARING - PACKERS ANXIOUS
NOVEMBER 16 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - A Liz Blackbourn coached Packer team has never been drubbed, losing four league games by only 19 points. When the Chicago Bears defeated the Packers, 28-23, at Wrigley Field it represented the most points scored
against Green Bay this season. The Packer defense,
one of the best in the league, has been the primary
reason for the Bays' most respectful record in a decade.
But Sunday at Green Bay, this outstanding achievement
gets tested by the very best. Detroit's roaring Lions,
making a runaway of the Western Division race, invade
City Stadium, averaging almost 34 points a game while
holding opposition to 14. Rough customers indeed -
the Packers haven't defeated Detroit since a 16-14
decision in 1949. And outside of the 14-7 loss at Green
Bay last season it's been brutal the past few season.
The San Francisco 49ers were figured as the biggest
threat to the champion Lions' throne. But can you call a
48-7 slaughter a threat? Ingredients in that rout were
Bobby Layne's passing, Doak Walker's kicking and a
great team contribution. The 49ers, incidentally,
defeated the Lions, 37-31, at San Francisco. But any
resemblance to the two games was bewildering. It was
the worst defeat in 49ers history - just think, trailing by
41 points before being able to score! Blackbourn's club
hasn't been routed and it isn't figuring on being drubbed.
Good, sound fundamental football has been the key to
the Packers' success. The Detroit game is the supreme
test. The only disturbing thing about the whole setup is
that the Packers will be in the same dilemma four days
later, playing a Thanksgiving Day battle at Briggs
Stadium in Detroit.
LETDOWN FOR LIONS? CHANCES OF PACKERS
WOULD BE ENHANCED
NOVEMBER 16 (Milwaukee Journal) - The way the
champion Detroit Lions handled the San Francisco
49ers Sunday may work to the Packers' advantage and
then again it may not. In any case, Lisle Blackbourn's
Green Bay boys still are face with the most unenviable
assignment imaginable. They must meet professional
football's finest twice in five days, at Green Bay Sunday
and at Detroit Thanksgiving morning. Buddy Parker's
Lions certainly should be due for a letdown after their
effort in the 48-7 romp over the only team to beat them
this season. Then, too, they may have a tendency to
coast a bit, because they boast what amounts to a two
and one-half game lead with only five games to play.
The ease with which they won, though, may not have
helped Green Bay at all. Had the crippled 49ers given
the Lions a close, tough game as expected, rather than
little more than a light workout, the Packers' chances
would have been enhanced...Bobby Dillon, who has
intercepted four passes in the Packers' last three
games, lost an eye in a childhood accident, but that did
not stop him from becoming an All-American at Texas
or one of the best defensive backs in the NFL...Tobin
Rote used the "post play" effectively to score three
touchdowns on one yard sneaks against Baltimore
Saturday. The Packer line had to open the hole only
one way on each occasion as Rote slid off the goal
post's block from the other side...If the Packers could
keep the middle quarters and throw out the first and
final periods, they undoubtedly would be doing much
better than .500 on four victories against four defeats.
Scoring by periods in the first eight games follows:
OPPONENTS 37 31 6 58 - 132
PACKERS 17 47 60 42 - 166
The Packers have led only once after the first 15 minutes, 10-0 against Philadelphia. In that game, their defense was responsible, for all 10 points were scored before they got their first down. In the other seven games, at the end of the first quarter, the Packers trailed four times, held Pittsburgh even, 7-7, and were involved in scoreless ties with Los Angeles and the Bears (first game). The amazing 60-6 edge they hold in the third period might indicate that half time adjustments have paid off handsomely. The Packers have scored in the third quarter of each game, have outscored every opponent in that period and have held the other side to two field goals, one each by Los Angeles and Baltimore (first meeting). The final quarter showings have led to all four Packer defeats, for Green Bay has led going into the final minutes of every game. The Packers, however, have shown great improvement in their finishing touch in winning four of their last five games. They did not score at all in the last quarter of the first three games. Since then, they have finished up with a 42-28 edge.
STOPPING A CHAMP BAYS' TASK SUNDAY
NOVEMBER 17 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - Winner and still champions - professional football fans were accepting this fact after Detroit's rampaging Lions demonstrated they liked being world champions, routing the runnerup San Francisco 49ers, 48-7. With a two-game cushion over the 49ers, it is possible for the Lions to lose two of their remaining five games and still win the Western Division title. Green Bay's ever-improving Packers get two whacks to sidetrack Detroit's title-clinching express. The first is at City Stadium Sunday. Four days later it's a Thanksgiving Day clash at Briggs Stadium. When the Packers were defeated by the Chicago Bears, 10-3, in the muck at Green Bay early in October, it represented the biggest point spread by an opponent. Incidentally, six points meant the Lions' only defeat, a 37-31 setback from the then powerful 49ers. You might even say, defensively, there can be a comparison between the Packers and Lions. But when Detroit averages 34 points a game and Green Bay only 21, you start counting the horses. The Packers sent a contingent of four scouts to map the Lions' devastating attack. It probably sent Coach Liz Blackbourn and his aides in a dither, wondering how to stop such a football machine. Here's how a champion plays: Detroit's defensive unit played alert, rugged football - it intercepted three passes, recovered three of four fumbles and held the 49er running attack to a measly 18 yards. Meanwhile, the Lions scored the first four times they had the ball. "There have been games where our defense might have been greater," jubilant coach Buddy Parker said, "and we have had a better offensive day. But never in my four years as head coach have those departments been better at the same time." This is what makes a champion. This is the Packers opponent Sunday. May the BEST team win?
GREEN BAY EYES NEW STADIUM
NOVEMBER 17 (Green Bay) - There was talk of a new city stadium here Wednesday night. A big part in Green Bay's claim to the Packers was solidified when the football team's board of directors sat down with the city's park board and Common Council finance committee to discuss the possibilities of Green Bay building a new stadium. The purpose of the meeting was to determine whether the Packers were interested in playing in a new stadium and also to ask the NFL club what it could contribute in making the idea a reality. The Council announced that it was considering buying 40 acres of land in an undeveloped area for the purpose of building a stadium. The sum mentioned was $58,000. Should a new stadium be built, will the Milwaukee half of the Packer schedule be cancelled? was one question discussed. One of the board members said that some games could be taken away from Milwaukee but that NFL title contenders would favor playing in Milwaukee's Stadium due to the larger drawing potential. He specifically mentioned the Chicago Bears as one favoring such a move. Gross estimates of the new stadium were not mentioned but costs were estimated between $10 and $32 per seat for an arena holding 30,000 fans.
LACK OF SHIFTS PUTS PACKERS IN HIGH GEAR AS DEFENSE MACHINE
NOVEMBER 17 (Milwaukee Journal) - Lisle Blackbourn, the Green Bay coach, said there was no particular secret to the improvement over last season shown by the Packers' defense. He said the coaching staff decided at the start of the season who was going to play where. "Then we left them there," he said. "We worked on them, they worked hard and the defense came right along." That Green Bay's defense "came along" is an understatement. With essentially the same personnel that permitted 338 points in 12 NFL games in 1953, the Packers have permitted only 132 points in eight games so far. The improvement averages out to something slightly more than 11 1/2 points a game - 28.2 last season as compared with 16.5 this fall. Only three new men are regulars on the Packers' defensive unit - rookie halfback Jim Psaltis, former Southern Californian who was released early in the season by the Chicago Cardinals; tackle Jerry Helluin, who was obtained over the winter from the Cleveland Browns and Clarence Self, the former Wisconsin halfback. Self played with the Packers before, but was released last season. Rookie halfback Gene White, an end at Georgia, also was a starter before a bad back put him on the injured reserve list for a month. But when White is in there, Psaltis was the "swingman" in the defensive backfield. The rest of the starters were with the Packers last season - ends John Martinkovic and Stretch Elliott, tackle Dave Hanner, middle guard Bill Forester, linebackers Clayton Tonnemaker and Roger Zatkoff and deep men Bobby Dillon and Val Joe Walker. "I understand there was quite a bit of switching around last year," Blackbourn said. "Zatkoff, for instance, was tried at defensive end and at two or three different linebacking spots. We have tried to avoid that and a relative freedom from injuries has helped us in that respect." The loss of White, the Packer coach said, has hurt in the secondary. "He is a good one for never having played back before," Blackbourn said. "Besides, we could use Psaltis wherever we needed him most, usually to give Self or someone else a rest." Self, at 29 and only 5 feet 9 inches tall, gets tired, Blackbourn said. "He's a good tackle, though, and a good competitor." Dillon and Walker, the ballhawks on pass defense, are speed merchants. With Zatkoff of Michigan, Tonnemaker of Minnesota and Teteak of Wisconsin, the Packers have an all-Big Ten linebacking corps. Teteak, the swingman here, has recovered from a broken ankle suffered in training. Tonnemaker, a fine tackler, has been bothered by leg injuries. "We did not want to use him at all against Baltimore," Blackbourn said, "but we had to rush him in when they took an early lead." Fortunately, Tonnemaker did not further injure himself and should be at near top shape for the game with the champion Detroit Lions at Green Bay Sunday. "We've had a lot of nuisance injuries this season," Blackbourn said. "They'd be just about healed up when the the next game comes along. Then the man was reinjured and you're right back where you started." Martinkovic and Elliott at ends have played "steady ball", although Blackbourn said he was not quite satisfied with the rush they have been giving the passer. Both are big men. Martinkovic at 6-3 and 245 and Elliott at 6-5 and 230 - but they lack versatility. Hanner, 230 pounds, is a "real good one" at tackle, Blackbourn said. "Barring accident, he should have several more good years. So should Helluin and Forester." Forester, who drawls so slowly when he talks that the rest of the Texans mime him, is 22, Hanner 24 and Helluin 25. "Forester is a real good athlete," Blackbourn said. "He has a fine physique. He's a big man (6-3, 235 pounds) and reasonably fast. He's not exactly the fiery kind, but you saw how he intercepted that pass against Baltimore and the way he ran after he got it." Helluin, the coach said, is too heavy at 285 pounds. "We'd like him about 10 pounds lighter," Blackbourn said, "then he could get around more."
LIONS BEST IN 3 YEARS - PARKER
NOVEMBER 18 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - "We've got a ball club this year which is better than either of our past two championship teams." That's coach Buddy Parker's evaluation of his "Devastators from Detroit" who are running away with the Western Division title. With a two-game cushion on the championship race, the Lions moved into Green Bay Sunday to tackle the Packers. Parker is expecting trouble at Green Bay, according to Bud Erickson, publicity director for the Lions, who was in town Wednesday. "Any team which could whip the Los Angeles Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles must be good," said Erickson. "We figured the Packers could have easily been in the runnerup spot with a 6-2 record going into Sunday's game." What makes the Lions even more devastating than a year ago? "We're more versatile," was Erickson's analysis. He then pointed out: "The acquisition of rookie fullback Bill Bowman (Lions' third draft choice) has given us the man we've been looking for. In fact, Parker think he's the best fullback Detroit has had since Ace Gutowsky romped with the 1935 champs. With Bowman out No. 1 fullback, much of the load has been taken off veteran Bob (Hunchy) Hoernschemeyer, who now alternates at right halfback and fullback. Lew Carpenter, our leading ground fainer, spells Hunchy off at right half." But here comes the biggest change. Left half Doak Walker hardly runs with the ball. He's being used strictly as a pass receiver. Erickson reported Dick Kercher, rookie halfback, and Jim Doran, veteran end, will miss the Packer game. Kercher has a fractured elbow and Doran will be out two or three weeks with a shoulder separation. Returning after missing the 49er game is tackle Thurman McGraw, out with a knee injury, and Carpenter.
20,000 ADVANCE SALE FOR PACKER-LION TILT
NOVEMBER 18 (Green Bay) - A typical sellout crowd (24,800) is expected at City Stadium Sunday to watch the Green Bay Packers battle the champion Detroit Lions. Kickoff is 1:05. "The advance sale has already approached 20,000," General Manager Verne Lewellen said Thursday. "With good weather and the Lions in town we should have a sellout." Even though Detroit is a 14 point favorite, there was hometown sentiment cooking up the Packers' chances. Coach Liz Blackbourn's club has broken even in league play, winning four of eight games, but only 19 points separated those four losses from possible victory. "The fans here are even foresaking deer hunting to see this year's team," grinned Lewellen. It was strictly business as Blackbourn and his aides primed the squad for the Lions in an afternoon drill at the Stadium. Physically, the Packers should be in good condition. Veryl Switzer, who pulled a leg muscle in the Baltimore Colt game, will be ready to roll against the Lions. Tobin Rote, who had a touch of flu earlier this week, was back at his pitching post. Incidentally, Rote needs only 27 more completions to break Cecil Isbell's mark of 268 for a season. He also needs only 274 yards to break Arnie Herber's all-time record of 6,741. The Lions, after a morning workout in Detroit Saturday, will fly directly to Green Bay. Coach Buddy Parker's champions are currently holding a two-game lead on the runnerup San Francisco 49ers, practically coasting to their third straight Western Division title. The Packers have a 26-15 edge in the long-time series with Detroit. However, the Lions have won the last nine games.