On late Sunday afternoon, the 10-6 Green Bay Packers will take on the 9-7 and NFC East champion Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in a NFC Wild Card game.
The meeting between the two teams will be the third time the teams have met in the postseason.
Before I get into the two previous matchups between the Packers and Redskins, I wanted to point out some interesting connections between the two teams.
The Packers play their games at Lambeau Field. The stadium is located on Lombardi Avenue.
Between the two of them, the Packers won 11 NFL titles.
Both coaches also moved on to become the head coach of the Redskins after their tenures in Green Bay.
Lambeau initially joined the Chicago Cardinals after leaving the Packers in 1950, but after two years in Chicago, Lambeau became head coach of the Redskins in 1952.
In two seasons there, the Redskins went 10-13-1 under Lambeau.
After Lombardi relinquished his head coaching duties in Green Bay in 1968, he stayed on as general manager for one year.
But in 1969, Lombardi was hired by the Redskins to be Executive Vice President, General Manager and Head Coach. Lombardi was also given a stock interest in the team.
Lombardi led the Redskins to a 7-5-2 record in 1969, which was Washington’s first winning record in 14 years.
Tragically, Lombardi passed away in 1970 because of colon cancer at the age of 57.
In addition to those connections, there is also Green Bay’s current team President and CEO, Mark Murphy. Murphy has held that position since late 2007, when he took over the reins from Bob Harlan.
Murphy has presided over an organization which has gone 89-49-1 and gone to the postseason seven straight years. Included in that run was the Vince Lombardi Trophy the team brought back to Green Bay after winning Super Bowl XLV.
As a player in the NFL, Murphy had an eight-year career with the Redskins playing safety. During that period, Washington won Super Bowl XVII.
In 1983, Murphy led the NFL with nine interceptions and was a consensus All-Pro, as well as getting selected to play in the Pro Bowl.
In terms of their postseason meetings, the Packers and Redskins first met in the 1936 NFL title game.
That game was the very first postseason game the Packers ever played in. Green Bay had already won three NFL titles in 1929, 1930 and 1931, but that was when the NFL awarded the championship by league standing.
In 1933, the NFL went to a playoff system to determine the league champion.
The Packers were 10-1-1 in 1936, which was tops in the Western Division.
The Redskins won the Eastern Division with a 7-5 record. The team was also based in Boston that season.
Owner George Preston Marshall was not happy with the support the team was receiving in Boston. Because of that, Marshall decided to host the NFL title game in New York at the Polo Grounds, instead of Fenway Park.
In 1937, Marshall moved the Redskins to Washington.
The title game in the Big Apple drew 29,545 fans.
The Packers won the contest 21-6, mostly because of the passing of Arnie Herber. The Packers had twice as many passing yards in the game, compared to the Redskins.
The Packers had led the NFL in passing offense in 1936.
Herber hit Don Hutson with a 48-yard touchdown pass in the first three minutes of the game. Hutson finished with five catches for 76 yards and a touchdown.
Johnny (Blood) McNally also caught two passes for 55 yards. One was a 52-yard reception which set up a touchdown. Herber ended up throwing two touchdown passes.
Clark Hinkle led the Packers in rushing with 58 yards on 16 carries.
The game was marred by a number of turnovers. The Packers forced five turnovers (four fumbles and an interception), while the Redskins forced five themselves (three fumbles and two interceptions).
The bottom line is the Packers had their fourth NFL title with the win and their first via the playoff format.
The next time the two teams met in the postseason was in 1972, which was five years after the Lombardi-era had ended in Green Bay.
Lombardi had added five more NFL championships (including the first two Super Bowls) to the Green Bay trophy cabinet, along with the six titles Lambeau had won.
The Packers struggled after Lombardi had turned over the coaching duties to Phil Bengtson in 1968. In the three years that Bengtson coached the Packers, the team was 20-21-1.
After Bengtson resigned, the Packers brought in Dan Devine, who had been a successful college coach at Missouri. In Devine’s first year in Green Bay, the Packers were 4-8-2.
But the Packers rebounded in 1972 under Devine and ended up winning the NFC Central division with a 10-4 record.
The Packers were led by their defense, which was ranked second in the NFL in total defense. That included being eighth in passing defense and second in rushing defense.
The only remaining defensive starter from the 1967 title team in Green Bay was linebacker Dave Robinson. In addition, Ray Nitschke was also on the ’72 team, but was a backup to middle linebacker Jim Carter.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Packers had two players from the ’67 team who were still starters in ’72. They were center Ken Bowman and wide receiver Carroll Dale.
Speaking of the offense, it was a completely different story compared to the defense. The Packers were ranked 22nd in total offense. Remember that the NFL was just a 26-member league at the time.
Green Bay was ranked seventh in rushing offense, as the team averaged over 150 yard per game on the ground. The two primary reasons were the performances of John Brockington and MacArthur Lane.
Brockington ran for 1,027 yards and eight touchdowns, while Lane rushed for 821 yards and three touchdowns.
The passing game really struggled however. Bart Starr had retired after the 1971 season. Starr was brought on to be the quarterbacks coach for the 1972 season.
That being said, there wasn’t a lot that Starr could have done to help the quarterback situation that season. It’s hard to make chicken salad out of chicken sh*t if you know what I mean.
Starr was forced to work with second-year quarterback Scott Hunter, who had suffered a shoulder injury while he was playing for Alabama, the same place Starr had played college football.
That shoulder injury severely affected the way Hunter could throw the football once he got to the NFL. The Packers also drafted Green Bay native Jerry Tagge of Nebraska in the first round of the 1972 NFL draft, but Tagge was very raw in terms of his throwing skills.
That is what Starr had to work with in 1972. The Packers ended up throwing for just over 100 yards per game that season.
Hunter started all 14 games for the Packers that season and he threw just six touchdown passes versus nine interceptions for 1,252 yards. The passer rating for Hunter that season was 55.5.
Coincidentally, the Packers and Redskins met in the regular season in 1972, when they met in Week 11 at RFK Stadium in Washington. The Redskins won that game 21-16.
The Packers led in that game 14-13 in the fourth quarter, before the Redskins came back to win.
Lane rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown in the game, while Brockington gained 42 yards.
Hunter and Tagge split the duties at quarterback in the game, as between the two of them, they completed five-of-19 passes for just 66 yards and an interception.
At the end of the season, the Packers won the NFC Central, while the 11-3 Redskins had won the NFC East.
That set up another game at RFK Stadium in the playoffs.
The Redskins knew from their previous meeting with the Packers that they had nothing to fear from the Green Bay passing game, so they stacked up a five-man defensive line to stop the rushing attack of the Packers.
The head coach of the Redskins then was George Allen, who took over the team in 1971. Allen was always known for his coaching prowess on the defensive side of the ball.
That five-man front was a success in stopping the running game of the Packers, as the team had just 78 yards rushing that day, which included just nine yards by Brockington in 13 carries.
Hunter did throw for 150 yards in the game, but he also threw a key interception.
In the end, the Redskins won the game 16-3.
After beating the Packers, the Redskins defeated the the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game, before falling to the undefeated Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VII.
It’s somewhat hard to believe that the game on Sunday will be just the third postseason game that the Packers and Redskins have played.
The Packers joined the NFL in 1921, while the Redskins joined the league in 1932.
In addition to that, the two teams have only met 32 times in the regular season as well, with the Packers having the edge 18-13-1.
As I noted in my most recent story about the declining stats of quarterback Aaron Rodgers in 2015, the Packers have a real chance to kick-start their almost comatose offense versus the Redskins.
Washington is ranked 28th in total defense. The Redskins are also ranked just 25th in passing defense and have allowed opposing quarterbacks to throw 30 touchdown passes versus just 11 picks and have a passer rating of 96.1.
Washington also struggles in stopping the run. The Redskins are just 26th in rushing defense and have given up an average of over 122 yards per game on the ground.
The Redskins have also allowed opposing running backs to average 4.8 yards per carry.
We shall see if Rodgers, running back Eddie Lacy and the rest of the offense of the Packers can take advantage of that situation.
If they do, then they would have most likely won the rubber match in this postseason series between the Packers and Redskins, which first started 80 years ago.