Pivotal Pro Football Moments
pivotal NFL postseason moment: A decision by a coach or an action by a player that changes the momentum of a playoff game.
1962: Taylor, Nitschke, Kramer Win Battle of Wills
1962 NFL Championship Game: Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants
The same two teams met in the '62 title game as clashed in the final the year before. This time they met at Yankee Stadium in New York, and the weather actually made the frigid conditions the year before in Green Bay look balmy.
By the kickoff, the temperature had dropped to 20° with swirling winds of 25-30 mph from the Northwest. The thermometer would fall to 10 by the end of the game.
The immortal sportswriter Red Smith described the conditions like this in his syndicated article the next day: "Polar gales clawed topseed off the barren playground and whipped it into whirlwinds about the great concrete chasm of Yankee Stadium. The winds snatched up tattered newspapers, more newspapers than people can find in all New York these days, and flung the shreds aloft where they danced and swirled in a Shubert blizzard ..."
Packers Coach Vince Lombardi later said he had never seen a worse day for football, including the '61 fi­nale in Green Bay. "I was half sorry to ask people to play in those condi­tions." The Packers decided to have their backs and ends wear ripple-soled "coaches shoes" with the linemen donning cleats. Every Giant wore the coaches shoes.

L-R: Vince Lombardi, Y. A. Tittle, Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke
Commentators would describe the game as "a slugfest," "a street fight," "primevil foot­ball," "a bone-crushing defensive duel," "an ugly, bloody, frigid test of wills," and "one of the most violent of all NFL championship games."
Neither team would be able to pass effectively. The Packers would complete just 10 of 22 for 96y while the Giants would go 18 of 41 for 197y. When NY QB Y. A. Tittle tried his first pass, a gust of wind knocked the ball down 3y short of its target.
Steve Sabol, capturing video of the clash for his company which would become NFL Films, was shocked at what the wind did to the strong-armed Tittle's pass. "There was such an ex­pression of despair and surprise on Tittle's face," Sabol recalled. "You could tell he rea­lized he was in for a long afternoon."
Green Bay QB Bart Starr thought to himself on the Packer sideline. "If Y. A. Tittle has this much difficulty with the wind, I see no need to fight it." So he and Lombardi decided on a more conservative game plan built around FB Jimmy Taylor.

Sam Huff chases Jimmy Taylor.
One theme quickly developed in the contest–the personal battle between Giants MLB Sam Huff and Taylor. In the first quarter, Taylor swept right end and bounced off tacklers until Huff drove him out of the bounds. Taylor headed directly for Huff but couldn't cut on the icy surface. As Sam made the tackle, he used his knees and elbows to accentuate the contact as the two skidded across the ice. Taylor struggled to his feet and, leaning over, coughed up blood. He then returned to the huddle and told Starr to give him the ball again.
Sabol: "The lasting image of that game in my mind is the ferocity and anger of Jim Taylor ... his barely restrained rage as he ran with the ball. Taylor just got the shit kicked out of him all day long ... There was all this trash-talking between him and especially Sam Huff ... Tons of profanity when they tackled him. I had never experienced anything like that."
The Packers drew first blood (on the scoreboard) when they drove to the NY 19 where Taylor was stopped less than a yard from the first down marker. So G Jerry Kramer lined up to kick a field goal in the swirling wind. Kramer had taken over the placekicking duties early in the season when Paul Hornung hurt his knee.
Jerry recalled: "It was common for players in my era to try and play two positions. It made you more valuable and less likely to be re­leased. I was a kicker in college ..." But the guard still felt trepidation as he faced his first kick. I looked across the field at Huff, (DE Andy) Robustelli, (DT Jim) Katcavage, (DT Roosevelt) Grier, and that group, and I thought to myself, "What in the hell are you doing out here?" So I was a bit nervous, but I kept my head down and went through my funda­mentals, and I made the kick."
With the swirling wind, all normal methods of lining up the kick were useless. All Kramer could do was aim and pray. "When I looked up, it looked like the ball was outside the goal posts, yet the official had his hands in the air signaling 'good,' and I said to Bart Starr (the holder), 'What the hell's he doing?' And Bart said, 'Shut up and get off the field.'"

Jerry Kramer kicks the first of his three field goals.
The Packer defense had watched their fullback take the battle to the opponent. MLB Ray Nitschke said later, "Early in the game, Taylor set the tone." So Ray and his mates adopt­ed that same approach when they returned to the field.
The Giants cranked up a drive that continued from their 38 after the kickoff to the GB 16. But after Nitschke dropped FB Phil King for a yard gain, disaster struck the Giants. Calling the defensive signals, Nitschke, knowing that Tittle liked to use his TE Joe Walton on one of his "over-the-line quickies," decided it was time to gamble. Before the snap, Ray cheated to his left and when Y.A. indeed threw toward Walton, who was open in the end zone, Ray made a desperate lunge and tipped it. The ball settled into the hands of LLB Dan Currie at the 10. Currie ran the ball out to the 39.

Dan Currie returns tipped interception.
The Packer defense set up the next score before halftime. With the Giants on offense on their 29 as the clock ticked under four minutes, Tittle threw a screen pass to King. But a savage tackle by Currie caused a fumble that Nitschke recovered at the 28.

Nitschke recovers fumble after Currie levels Phil King.
On the sideline, Starr turned to Lombardi and said, "How about it, Coach?" Vince replied, "Have at it."
3:06 showed on the clock, more than enough for the Pack to increase their lead. They wouldn't need even 1/3 of the remaining time. Given the OK to at­tack, Starr called for one of his classic weapons, the halfback pass by Hornung, the former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Notre Dame. Running right, Hornung threw a perfect pass to WR Boyd Dowler to the eight. Then, thinking the Giants "would be extremely ag­gressive but still somewhat unsure of themselves," Starr called "Blue Right 37." The play called for Taylor to run a slant off right tackle behind a cross-blocking scheme. But DT Dick Modzelewski saw something in Taylor's stance that tipped him off that the play was coming at him. When Jimmy took the handoff and headed right, "Little Mo" followed only to have Kramer drive him further outside. The fullback read the block and cut left against the grain. C Jim Ringo got a piece of Huff to allow Jimmy to dash through a narrow opening up the middle for the touchdown. Kramer added the PAT. Packers 10 Giants 0

Taylor bursts past Huff and Grier into the end zone.
With their offensive counterparts unable to put points on the board, the Giants defense and special teams took matters into their own hands midway through the third period. Facing 4th-and-15 at the GB 15, Max McGee dropped back to punt. DB Erich Barnes blocked it. The ball squirted into the end zone, where Jim Collier covered it for NY's first points against Green Bay in seven quarters going back to the '61 championship game. Don Chandler kicked the point. Packers 10 Giants 7 (7:34)
Unfortunately, the Giants gave the momentum back to the Packers with a special teams miscue of their own. After the touchdown, the fired-up defense forced a three-and-out. McGee got away a low punt that DB Sam Horner unwisely tried to field on the dead run. A scramble ensued that ended in a pileup. When the players were peeled off, Nitchske had the ball on the NY 42. Just like that, the Packers had tipped the field.
That set up another Kramer field goal, this one from the 28 to make it 13-7 Packers with 4:00 left in the third quarter.
Neither team came close to scoring until Green Bay started a drive from their 28 midway through the final period. With Taylor and HB Tom Moore toting the leather, the Packers marched relentlessly into Giants territory until bogging down at the 23 at the two-minute warning.
Starr knelt at the 30 as Kramer lined up the kick. "If you make it, it's all over," Jerry told himself. "We've got the game won." Keeping his head down, Kramer boomed the clinching field goal into the wind to tie the record held by many, including Hornung in 1961–three field goals in a championship game. His teammates jumped on Jerry, some­thing that doesn't often happen to a guard. On the sideline, Lombardi threw his clenched fist into the air. FINAL SCORE: Packers 16 Giants 7
The Giants had not scored on the Packer defense in two championship games.
Taylor carried the ball an amazing 31 times for 85 hard-earned yards. "I never took a worse beating on a football field," he said. Huff admired the Packer fullback. "Taylor isn't human. No human being could have taken the punishment he got today. Every time he was tackled, it was like crashing him down on a concrete sidewalk because the ground was as hard as pavement. But he kept bouncing up, snarling at us, and asking for more. ... If there was any turning point in the game, it was that time in the first quarter when we went right down there and didn't score because they intercepted that pass."
Everyone in the Green Bay entourage drank the bubbly and celebrated on the trip back to Wisconsin except one Packer. Taylor huddled alone in the back of the plane shivering un­der an overcoat. Two weeks later, while preparing for the Pro Bowl in Los Angeles, Jimmy found out he had hepatitis. "He got the absolute crap kicked out of him," said Kramer. "He was really hurting. But what a game he had."