GAME RECAP (MILWAUKEE SENTINEL)
(GREEN BAY) - First game jitters against a stubborn Detroit defense cost the Packers a 20-16 NFL loss here Sunday before a sellout gathering of 24,668. Dropped passes, a feeble showing on the ground, costly personal foul penalties and a missed point after touchdown (an almost unheard of thing in pro football) all added to the Packers' sputtering start against the hepped-up Lions. Sure, it was close - but the Packers could have won the opener. Take Gary Knafelc's dropped pass midway through the third quarter. Last year's hero in the same opener  couldn't hang on to a perfect Tobin Rote pitch in the clear on the Detroit 30. If he had, it would have given the Packers the lead for the first time as they were trailing, 10-9, at the time. Late in the same quarter, a personal foul on some eager beaver Bays gave the Lions a chance on fourth down and they capitalized on the break six plays later with a field goal to boost their margin to 13-9. Whether the Lions' defense was as good as statistics tell is rather questionable. The Packers' best ground gainer was fullback Howie Ferguson, with 34 yards in eight carries. But who else? The halfbacks? The Packers just didn't have one - a glaring weakness which put the burden strictly on a game, but dog-tired Rote. When Al Carmichael gains six yards, Joe Johnson three and Breezy Reid two brother, thing aren't clicking in this department. Defensively, the Packers looked like a contender. They made the Lions claw for their first touchdown; they made the victors settle for a field goal instead of a TD when the Lions had a first down on the Packer three and one-half; and they stopped Hopalong Cassady and Yale Lary in their tracks on punt and kickoff returns. The Packers failed to make a first down until seven minutes gone in the second quarter. Meanwhile, Detroit was able to pick up four in the first 15 minutes and a 3-0 lead when Jim Martin kicked the longest field goal of his pro career - a 48 yarder which just cleared the bar. Green Bay was steadily losing the advantage on punt exchanges. When Lary "fair-catched" Dick Deschaine's 35-yard kick to end the first period, the Lions were touchdown-bound in nine plays covering 53 yards. Jug Girard, an old time, sparked the drive. The Jugger finished as the leading ground gainer with 52 yards in 13 carries. Bobby Layne, who was racked up by Dave Hanner in the first period, uncorked a 20 yard strike to Jim Doran and the Lions meant business from the Packer seven. However, it took Detroit four plays to score, Don McIlhenny finally punching a stout Packer defense from two inches out. Layne converted and the Lions led, 10-0. Fred Cone's 45-yard field goal eight plays later broke the ice for Green Bay, after the Packers had notched their first first down on the scoring drive. Rote ran 13 yards on third down for the first offensive show. He was jarred on a similar jaunt moments later and the Packers went for a field goal when a third down Bart Starr pass failed. The play of the game came after Coach Liz Blackbourn apparently shot the boys with confidence during halftime. Jack Losch, the Packers' No. 1 draft choice who has shown practically nothing during the preseason campaign, fielded Lary's punt and raced 58 yards until he was downed on the 17. Rote gained 12 to the five, a fumble was almost disastrously but a third down strike to Knafelc scored the Packers' first touchdown. Cone's PAT hit the cross bar (he never missed one last season) and the Packers found themselves behind, 10-9. An interception exchange just wiled away the remaining minutes of the quarter. Bobby Dillon snaring a Harry Gilmer aerial and Milt David grabbing a Rote pass on the Detroit three. But from their own three, the Lions were TD bound for the third time. The big one was a 36 yard Layne to Dorne Dibble aerial which put the Lions on Green Bay's four. The defense came to life again and held Cassady, Bill Stits and Layne. So Bobby settled for a 12 yard field goal to put Detroit ahead, 13-9, with one and one half minutes of the quarter played. The Packers failed to gain and Detroit was off to the races again. Cassady, McIlhenny and Layne were the big guns, but the shot which killed the Packers was a 33-yard pass to Middleton, reaching the Green Bay one. Layne did the honors himself on a quarterback sneak and his conversion boosted the margin to 20-9. The Packers came bouncing back, mostly on Rote's 42-yard aerial to Billy Howton, an almost forgotten man. Ferguson and Rote moved on the ground and an eight yard strike to Howton was the payoff. Cone converted and the Packers trailed, 20-16. Fans, remembering that 20-17 come-from-behind Packer win last year, were keeping their fingers crossed for a repeat performance. But the Lions were content to tick off valuable time with a ground attack. Martin tried a 38 yard field goal with a minute and 37 seconds left, but it was wide. Rote brought the Packers up for their last chance, but his sideline pass to Knafecl was dropped again and three plays later Bob Long ended the agony with an interception.
DETROIT   -  3  7  0 10 - 20
GREEN BAY -  0  3  6  7 - 16
1st - DET - Jim Martin, 48-yard field goal DETROIT 3-0
2nd - DET - Don McIlhenny, 1-yard run (Bobby Layne kick) DETROIT 10-0
2nd - GB - Cone, 45-yard field goal DETROIT 10-3
3rd - GB - Knafelc, 5-yard pass from Rote (Kick failed) DETROIT 10-9
4th - DET - Layne, 12-yard field goal DETROIT 13-9
4th - DET - Layne, 1-yard run (Layne kick) DETROIT 20-9
4th - GB - Howton, 8-yard pass from Rote (Cone kick) DETROIT 20-16
MUM'S THE WORD IN PACKER CAMP
OCTOBER 5 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - Liz Blackbourn was in high spirits before the Detroit opener. He soundly believed the 1956 Packers were a better football team than a year ago. That Blackbourn spark wasn't evident after last Sunday's 20-16 loss to the Lions (by nature, of course) and it still wasn't showing Thursday as his Packers climaxed preparations for their annual grudge fight with the Bears Sunday at Green Bay. It could be that the Packer coach is nursing bruised feelings, and it could be he is secretly building up a jolt of surprises for the Chicago visitors. One thing for sure. Blackbourn was in a most unusual quiet mood before taking the practice field Thursday afternoon. Here as are his crisp notes:
* "Our scouts report the Bears' offense is better than last year."
* "Sure, they have some weak spots, but I'm certainly not going to disclose what we're going to about them."
* "We've worked on defense until today and will switch to offensive drills the rest of the week."
* "Outside of middle guard Bill Forester, sidelined with a jammed shoulder, we will be in good physical shape."
Blackbourn's only reference to the game itself was, "It looks like another one of those close battles...we still should have won that first one," the taskmaster muttered in closing. Blackbourn earlier praised defensive tackle Dave Hanner as the best performer in the Lion game. Hanner, a mean 255-pound Arkansas brute, banged his way into the Detroit backfield most of the game and was rewarded for his actions by the Packer Quarterback Club as player of the week. A report from the Bear office showed no physical wounds after their 28-21 loss to Baltimore, just hurt feelings. George Shaw, the Colt revolver, shot 25 times and hit his target on 19 for 253 yards against a (weak?) Bear pass defense. So Paddy Driscoll has stepped up defensive drills with Joe Fortunato, J.C. Caroline, Ray Gene Smith, John Helwig and Ken Gorgal being glued to the Packer-Lion film, which vividly showed what a good pass defense did to the Packers. Sunday's game is another sellout at City Stadium and is the annual homecoming for more than 100 former Packers who will be in the stands. This will be the 76th renewal of the Bear series, which began in 1921. The Bruins hold a 44-25-6 advantage, but how many times were the Bears held without a touchdown? It happened last year at Green Bay, 24-3, and nothing could be finer than to do it again.
BLACKBOURN SAYS BEARS BETTER THAN YEAR AGO
OCTOBER 5 (Milwaukee Journal) - Lisle Blackbourn, Green Bay coach, rates the Chicago Bears as "a lot better now than at this time last year." Blackbourn's Packers will meet the Bears in the 76th game of their old rivalry at Green Bay Sunday afternoon. "Are the Bears better than they were last November when you played them the second time in Chicago?" Blackbourn was asked Friday. "Heaven help us if they are," he said. The Packers beat the Bears at Green Bay early in October, 24-3, then at Wrigley Field in November, were put to complete rout in all but the fourth quarter, 52-31. "The Bears in that second meeting of ours were tremendous," Blackbourn shuddered. "In the first one they had not yet completely jelled. They're a jelled team, now, though. There's no question about it. We're going to meet a much better October team now than they were a year ago." Both teams will go into Sunday's meeting trying to catch up. The Packers lost their opener last Sunday to Detroit, 20-16, the Bears their defeat to Alan Ameche and the Baltimore Colts, 28-21. The Bears, Blackbourn feels, have more offense than the Lions. "They've got it," he said. "No question. But they don't measure up to the Lions on defense, and in that lies our chance. We should be able to move too." The Bears' principal weakness last year, perhaps, was a pass defense and it wasn't good in the opener at Baltimore either. They lost Don Kindt, former Milwaukee Washington and Wisconsin star, through retirement and that hurt. They added J.C. Caroline, former Illinois flash, to their deep secondary but Caroline still has a lot to learn. On offense, the best new man appears to be Perry Jeter of California Poly. "A great back," Blackbourn said after checking with scout Wally Cruice. "He ran a punt back against Baltimore all by himself. He's probably the best new back in the league." The Bears have four quarterbacks - Ed Brown, George Blanda, Tom O'Connell (returned from the service) and Jim Haluska, Wisconsin graduate. Harland Carl, another former Badger has been alternating at left half with Bob Watkins and Jeter. Rick Casares at fullback and John Hoffman at flanker provide the rest of the punch. Harland Hill, Gene Schroeder and Bill McColl pose the big recovery threat on passes. The Packers defense, which did its job well against Detroit last Sunday, will have an even more pressing time Sunday. But at least the Packers won't have something quite as tough as Detroit's defense to crack. The game will start at 1:05 p.m.
NEWS AND NOTES
LIONS' DEFENSE BEAT US - LIZ
OCTOBER 2 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - The Packers had their sights set on making hay against Western Division toughies this season, but had an off day Monday to forget about their 20-16 loss to the Lions Sunday while their coach, Liz Blackbourn, tried to explain what went wrong. "Their defense did it," Blackbourn insisted from his Green Bay office. "They forced us to give up the ball too many times. We did a remarkable job holding them to 20 points." Blackbourn wasn't bitter, rather more disappointed at his Packers' ineffective offense. But realizing the Lions' defense kicked the daylights out of almost everything the Packers tried, Liz said there would be an immediate stepup in offensive preparations for next Sunday's annual slugfest with the Bears. Asked what was the best part of the Packers' showing. Liz shot back: "Defense. But when Detroit controlled the play so much it forced too much of a load on our defense. I thought they played a terrific game." Recalling the close games between these two clubs, Blackbourn added: "These Lion-Packer games have always been good games; they've always been close contests between a lot of good boys." The Packer boss made one point extra clear. "There are no changes, personnel-wise, in sight. Their first loss taught us many things. We've got to step up our scoring punch and be ready to smash the Bears. Sure, the boys were disappointed. But they'll be up for the Bears." Rote had good protection every time he went back to pass. Tackles Bob Skoronski and John Sandusky have plugged up glaring weaknesses of old. But what raised havoc with Rote's aerial performance was that Lion pass defense. Ends Gary Knafelc and Billy Howton had trouble shaking their pesky foes. Knafelc, it is hoped, just had a bad day. His five-yard touchdown catch was his only completion. Howton caught five for 76 yards - the big one being a 42 yarder in the fourth quarter which led to the Packers' second touchdown. One thing for sure, the Packers never gave up. Trailing, 20-9, in the fourth quarter, the Bays powered back 80 yards in nine plays for a quick touchdown to squelch for any thought that the Lions were going to break this game wide open. An inept first quarter, in which the Packers could not muster a single first down, hurt badly. The Lions won the ball game, but were a pretty physically beaten bunch after the game. No less than six had to be helped off the field. "Our boys were really smacking," Liz admitted. "They had to be to keep us in the game." No serious injuries were reported by Blackbourn, "just some real good bruises."
STARTED TO LATE, SAYS BLACKBOURN
OCTOBER 2 (Milwaukee Journal) - Lisle Blackbourn smiled a little grimly in the Packers' dressing room under the stands of City Stadium at Green Bay. It was late Sunday afternoon and the place was almost deserted. Most of the players had left after having lost to the Detroit Lions, 20-16. The veteran coach answered each question slowly and fully, but he had a snap to his voice and fire in his eyes. He does not lose easily. He wants to win too badly. "We lost it by wasting the whole first quarter," he said. "Not even a first down. It took us a long time to find out how good (Carl) Karilivacz, defensive back, is. Once we found out, we played well enough. Look over there," Blackbourn said, pointing at the blackboard, on which were circles and X's, depicting a play. "They played their
defense just the way we wanted them to. They rotated
their deep men to meet our power. That left one on one for
Knafelc. Now that's what we wanted. We can beat teams
when there's only one man to cover Knafelc. But we
couldn't beat Karilivacz. We tried and tried, but he was too
good. I don't know if he's that good all the time, but he was
that good today." Maybe it was that Knafelc wasn't having
a very good day? "It's hard to get down on him,"
Blackbourn said. "He won for us against them a year ago.
No, I'd say it was just too much Karilivacz." Blackbourn
stared at the floor a moment and then looked up. "After we
found out what we couldn't do against Karilivacz, we
opened 'em up in the middle and moved all right." he said.
"But you can't waste a whole quarter and hope to beat
Detroit, or any other team in this league. Say, that Detroit
line is good. Their whole defense is good, but I'd say our
defense did everything that could be expected of it, too.
Their running backs are good. We didn't do much on the
ground. Maybe we'll try Johnson more at halfback next
week - in place of Carmichael. That's the only change I
have in mind now." Someone mentioned that Baltimore had
beaten the Chicago Bears. The Bears will play the Packers
at Green Bay Sunday and Baltimore will meet Detroit at
Baltimore. "I didn't think Baltimore could do it," Blackbourn
said. "Well, they're all tough in this division. Detroit had
better watch out because they're going over to Baltimore
all crippled up. We hurt them today. Their halfbacks and
fullbacks are banged up. Layne's shoulder might have been
all right when he came back in today, but after it cools off
and stiffens he may have trouble. That's a chronic injury
and could put them on a spot. Sure, Gilmer did a good job
filling in - he's looked good all fall - but he's not Bobby
Layne." Someone asked Blackbourn if he realized how
completely Detroit had dominated the statistics. "Yes," the
coach said. "We expected that. We still could have just as
well won. We spotted them the first quarter and never
caught up. We had the chance, though. You always like to
win that first one - it means so much. Now we'll just have
to win more later."
6 WESTERN DIVISION CONTENDERS - HALAS
OCTOBER 3 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - Papa Bear himself,
George Halas, said Tuesday he was hardly discouraged
watching his much heralded Bruins bow in their opener
against the Colts, 28-21, at Baltimore Sunday. "I'll be
delighted if we win just one of our first three games," said
the Bear owner, who turned over the coaching reigns to his
old assistant Paddy Driscoll this season. "That would be a
100 percent improvement over last season," Halas coyly
observed. (The Bears lost their first three games under
Georgie last fall and then went on to win six in a row, the longest winning streak in the NFL). Halas tried to brush off the champion-in-the-making tag predicted by most preseason observers. "That was a figment of the imagination by the typewriter boys. No coach in his right mind would predict such a silly thing. There are six contenders in the Western Division, six of them." Getting back to the Colt game, Halas pointed out that quarterback George Shaw had an exceptional "hot" afternoon. "I doubt if he will be that effective the rest of the season. (Shaw completed 19 of 25 passes for 253 yards). But that Baltimore club is coming up with something. Lenny Moore, Alan Ameche and L.G. Dupre are fine runners. They hurt us." Owner George wasn't too pleased with the Bears' pass defense. "We've got a job to do there. Our offensive unit is a good one with Ed Brown, Rick Casares, Gene Schroeder, Harlon Hill and Bobby Watkins. We've got some fine guards (Stan Jones and Bill George)." Asked about the Wisconsin boys, Harland Carl and Jim Haluska, Halas was in the praising mood again. "Carl looks like he's going to be a good pro halfback. He likes the game and is learning fast. He teamed with Watkins against the Colts and handled himself well." Haluska didn't play against Baltimore, but Halas wants to keep him, insisting "I think we've got one here." Perry Jeter, the scatback rookie, also was mentioned. "He raced 51 yards on a punt return against the Colts. He sure has speed." The Bears came out of the Baltimore game physically sound. Halas then said, "Heard the Packers really beat up the Lions. Green Bay always played a socking game." Halas' parting shot was "don't count those Packers out. They'll be in this thing to the end with the rest of us."
HARDLY ANY CHANGE
OCTOBER 3 (Milwaukee Journal) - The NFL has hardly changed from last year. Favorites are still getting their lumps. Oddsmakers had San Francisco, Green Bay, Washington, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles and Cleveland all favored from three to nine points. All lost but Los Angeles...The openers were rough on new coaches - Paddy Driscoll of the Bears, Frank Albert of San Francisco and Hugh Devore of Philadelphia...Packer alumni will get together at the Beaumont Hotel in Green Bay after Sunday's game with the Bears...In a way, Jim Lee Howell, New York coach, outsmarted himself as the Giants beat San Francisco. He started quarterback Don Heinrich to test the 49ers' defense. He planned to bring in veteran Charlie Conerly to take advantage of the findings. Heinrich passes for two touchdowns, and had the Giants head, 24-0, before Howell took him out...The Chicago Cardinals used the split-T (college variety) to get position for their winning field goal against Cleveland. This is not recommended for the health of a pro quarterback, but the Cardinals got away with it...George Shaw, Baltimore quarterback, completed 14 out of 15 passes in the first half against the Bears...Paddy Driscoll, Bears' new coach, assays Baltimore thusly: "Vastly improved over last year. More depth. Shaw a great quarterback against us."...The Bears' offense was not bad, just spotty. Ed Brown played most of the game at quarterback and did not get too good protection. Penalties and fumbles cost the Bears dearly...The Packers are looking for more running help from their halfbacks and some openings for fullback Howie Ferguson to run through.
SPINKS TO GIANTS
OCTOBER 4 (Green Bay) - The Packers Thursday traded offensive guard Jack Spinks to the Giants for a future draft choice. Spinks, in his fourth season of NFL play, was drafted by the Steelers as a back in 1952 and traded to the Cardinals the following year. The Packers acquired the 6-1, 240-pound Negro last year and converted him into a guard. He attended little Alcorn, Miss,. A&M.
PACKERS MEET BEARS IN 'BIG ONE' SUNDAY
OCTOBER 7 (Green Bay) - Pro football's oldest rivals, the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers, will meet for the 75th time here Sunday afternoon with the Bears in the familiar role of favorites. Little old City Stadium was sold out of its 24,668 seats two weeks ago. Except for youngsters who sneak in, those without tickets, who are interested will have to watch on TV (WXIX) or listen to the radio (WEMP). The kickoff is at 1:05 p.m. Each of the rivals will be after its first victory after losing the opening game a week ago, and each will go into the game after having had a different kind of difficulty in the opener. The Bears showed plenty of offense against Baltimore, but lost, 28-21, for lack of a pass defense. The Packers played the kind of defensive ball Coach Lisle Blackbourn expected they would, but the offense was something else and they lost 20-16. Chicago has a new coach, Paddy Driscoll, who replaced George Halas, who retired to become owner only. Otherwise, the Bears look just about the same as last year - rated as western division favorites in the NFL, but off again to a losing start. In this respect, the Bears are hard to figure. In each of their last four season, they lost their opening game, three times to Baltimore. Last year, they lost their first three games, including a 24-3 licking in the second game here. Then they righted themselves and won eight of their last nine games. They beat the Packers in Chicago, 52-31. Only an almost unexplainable 53-14 drubbing at the hands of the lowly Chicago Cardinals kept them from the division title. They finished a half game behind Los Angeles. This year, Driscoll, former Marquette university coach, sought to get a real jump at the gun. He trimmed his roster early, concentrated on about 40 players, most of them veterans, and appeared to have the team more then ready. Maybe that was it - more than ready. After winning their first five exhibition games, they lost the final preseason game to champion Cleveland and the league opener to the Colts. The big questions for today, then, are these:
(1) Will Green Bay's offense, built around quarterback Tobin Rote, backs Howie Ferguson, Joe Johnson, Breezy Reid and Al Carmichael and ends Bill Howton and Gary Knafelc, be able to take advantage of Chicago's shaky secondary?
(2) Will Green Bay's rugged defenders be able to contain quarterback Ed Brown, ends Harlon Hill, Bill McColl and Gene Schroeder and backs Bobby Watkins, Parry Jeter, John Hoffman and Rick Casares?
The Packers in the last week have concentrated on offense; the Bears, on defense. Since they started playing each other in 1921, the Bears have won 43 times and the Packers 25 times. Six games ended in ties.
Detroit Lions (1-0) 20, Green Bay Packers (0-1) 16
Sunday September 30th 1956 (at Green Bay)