On This Day...
Alan Ameche scored this overtime touchdown in the famed 1958 NFL Championship between the Colts and the Giants. This game really put the NFL on the national landscape as far as being a televised sport and becoming the most popular sport in America that it is today. In the 1940's and 1950's baseball and boxing were really the biggest sports in America. Pro Football trailed in popularity to college football. Then in this championship game Johnny Unitas, trailing 17-14 with under two minutes to play at their own 14 yard line, drove the Colts down the field to set up a game-tying field goal, and for the first time ever, send an NFL game into sudden-death overtime, where the Colts would prevail. Here's is Wikipedia's summary of the game:
The 1958 National Football League Championship Game was played on December 28, 1958 at Yankee Stadium in New York City. It was the first ever National Football League (NFL) playoff game to go into sudden death overtime. The final score was Baltimore Colts 23, New York Giants 17. The game has since become widely known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played". The game was the 26th annual NFL championship game.The game marked the beginning of the NFL's popularity surge, and eventual rise to the top of the United States sports market. A major reason was that the game was televised across the nation by NBC. Baltimore receiver Raymond Berry recorded 12 receptions for 178 yards and a touchdown. His 12 receptions are a championship record that stands to this day.
We our proud to add this game to our database of matchups in the Gridiron Uniform Database.
More from Wikipedia on the game:
An estimated 45 million people watched the game on television in the United States. This audience could have been even greater except that because of NFL restrictions, the game was blacked out in the greater New York City area. Still, the impact from this game is far reaching. One year later, Texas billionaire Lamar Hunt would form the American Football League, which began play with 8 teams in the 1960 season. The growth of the popularity of the sport, through franchise expansion, the eventual merger with the AFL, and popularity on television, is commonly credited to this game, making it a turning point in the history of football.
The game is, to date, the only NFL championship game ever decided in overtime. The drive by Baltimore at the end of regulation, with Unitas leading the team quickly down the field to set up the game-tying field goal, is often cited as the first instance of a "Two Minute Drill", for which Unitas became famous.
The Baltimore head coach was Weeb Ewbank. He would coach Baltimore to a second straight championship game win over New York the next season. Ewbank would eventually be fired from the Colts, and would take the job of head coach for the New York Jets. Ewbank led the Jets to victory over the Colts in Super Bowl III, also considered a monumental victory in the history of pro football.
The Giants head coach was Jim Lee Howell, and he was aided by two coordinators who went on to greatness themselves. The defensive coordinator was Tom Landry, who left the team in 1960 to take over the then-expansion Dallas Cowboys and led them to two Super Bowl championships. The offensive coordinator was Vince Lombardi, who left the team following the game to take the head coaching position with the Green Bay Packers. Lombardi led the Packers to five championships in the 1960s, including the first two Super Bowls, and had the Super Bowl Trophy named after him after his death.We'll be back tomorrow with another great "On This Day..." game also involving the Giants, as well as Tim's Week 16 uniform breakdown.