Just like it did this year in 2016, Christmas day fell on a Sunday in 1960. Back then, the NFL decided that they did not want to have their league championship game played on a traditional religious and family holiday. So, the NFL had the game played on December 26th instead.
That meant that the 8-4 Green Bay Packers, the champions of the Western Conference, would be taking on the 10-2 Philadelphia Eagles, the champions of the Eastern Conference, for the 1960 NFL title at Franklin Field in Philadelphia on a Monday afternoon.
It seems a little strange now. But the NFL never allowed games to be played on Christmas day until 1971. On that day, the Miami Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs played in one of two divisional playoff games and played in a classic game, which turned out to be the longest postseason game ever in NFL history.
But since 1989 and including the two games which were played yesterday, the NFL has had 17 games played on Christmas day.
But back in 1960, when the Packers were coached by Vince Lombardi and the Eagles were coached by Buck Shaw, the title game was played the day after Christmas.
This would be the first and only time that the Packers and Eagles would play each other in a NFL championship game, plus both teams hadn’t been in a NFL title game in several years.
The last time the Packers had played in a NFL championship was 1944, when they defeated the New York Giants 14-7 at the Polo Grounds in New York City.
The Eagles hadn’t been in a NFL title game since 1949, when they defeated the Los Angeles Rams 14-0 in at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
In the title game between the Packers and Eagles, Green Bay clearly outplayed Philadelphia, as the Packers had 401 total yards, compared to just 296 total yards for the Eagles.
Still, the Packers didn’t take advantage of their chances to score a few times. For instance, Green Bay didn’t get any points on a couple of their drives into Philadelphia territory, as the Green Bay went for it on fourth down twice and were stopped each time.
Plus, Paul Hornung missed a short-field goal late in the second quarter which would come back to haunt the Packers later.
The running game of the Packers was especially effective, as Green Bay rushed for 223 yards, led by Jim Taylor, who had 105 yards rushing. Hornung also chipped in 61 yards toting the rock.
Quarterback Bart Starr threw for 178 yards and threw a touchdown pass to Max McGee in the fourth quarter to give the Packers a 13-10 lead. No. 15 did not throw a pick in the game.
But the lead was short-lived as a 58-yard kickoff return by Ted Dean set up a five-yard touchdown run by Dean to give the Eagles a 17-13 lead.
Dean led the Eagles in rushing that day with 54 yards, while quarterback Norm Van Brocklin thew for 204 yards and had one touchdown pass and one interception.
After the Eagles took their four-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Packers drove deep into Philadelphia territory, but needed a touchdown to win, as opposed to a field goal. On the final play of the game, Taylor caught a 14-yard pass from Starr, but was tackled at the 8 by linebacker Chuck Bednarik as time expired.
After the game, Lombardi was very proud of the effort of his players, as legendary right guard Jerry Kramer explained to me.
“After the game, Coach Lombardi stood up on a equipment box and addressed the team,” Kramer said. “He said he was very proud of the way we played. He told us that we were going to be in a number of NFL championship games in the future and that we would never lose again. And he was right.”
The following year the Packers won their first of five NFL titles that the team would win under Lombardi, which included the first two Super Bowls.
After losing that first postseason game against the Eagles, the Packers won nine straight games in the postseason under Lombardi and indeed never lost again.