Packer coach Vince Lombardi is carried off the field after his final victory.
January 14, 1968
He was of Italian extraction, but his coaching style and philosophy were pure Prussian.
Adjectives described him as cruel but wonderful, demanding but dedicated, brilliant but terrible.
When he arrived at Green Bay to assume the reins of the Packers in 1959, he announced that the foremost problem was to defeat defeatism. Of his players he demanded total dedication . . . to the team, to himself and to winning.
"You're going to work as never before," the onetime lineman who was part of Fordham's "Seven Blocks of Granite" promised the players, inspiring Green Bay defensive tackle Henry Jordan to make his unforgettable observation: "He treated us all alike -- like dogs."
Another Jordan gem: "When he tells you to sit down, you don't look for a chair."
Vince Lombardi had served five years (1949-53) as assistant coach at the United States Military Academy under Earl Blaik, who subscribed to General Douglas MacArthur's principle, "There is no substitute for victory," which Lombardi also followed to the fullest degree.
How quickly Lombardi translated that principle into success was demonstrated by the fact that within two years he had produced a championship team at Green Bay.
In the days preceding Super Bowl II, played in Miami's Orange Bowl on January 14, 1968, rumors circulated that Lombardi would resign as coach and general manager of the Packers after the championship contest.
Reluctant to discuss the report, Lombardi said only: "It's too early for such a decision. I'm going to give Vince Lombardi a real hard look."
Green Bay players, however, were convinced that the forthcoming engagement with the Oakland Raiders would assume all the aspects of a farewell party for the coach who had won more than 75 percent of his games and five National Football League championships in his last seven years in the league's smallest city.
"About Thursday," remembered quarterback Bart Starr, "Coach Lombardi came to our meeting dressed in a business suit, which was not at all characteristic of him. He was going to a reception and told us how much he had enjoyed coaching us and how proud he was of us. We all had lumps in our throats. He was proud of us, but we were just as proud of him."
The mutual pride was not the type that frequently precedes a fall and on Super Sunday, a clear afternoon, before a sellout crowd of 75,546, the proud Packers saw their coach off in a style befitting a royal monarch with a 33-14 victory over Oakland.
Favored by 14 points, the NFL champions forged their triumph from the matchless play selection of Starr, the faultless place-kicking of Don Chandler and the superb team-wide execution born of the dedication demanded by Lombardi.
Concluding his Green Bay career eight years after he took over a club that had finished 1-10-1 in 1958, Lombardi had observed that "to beat Oakland, you have to pick on the entire defense, not just on one man. They don't stand and take the play. They jump around and try to confuse you."
Attempts to confuse did not succeed against the well-disciplined Packers, who converted Raider mistakes into points. The Packers also took away the Raiders' most potent weapon, the power sweep.
"Anytime you take away a team's big play," noted Lombardi, "you force them into trying something they're not quite as effective in doing."
Packers guard Jerry Kramer also did something he was not accustomed to doing.
"When I got up this morning," he related, "I put my undershorts on backward. And for the first time in my career I missed a team meeting. I was having breakfast with my wife when I suddenly realized that I was supposed to be somewhere else."
Reflecting on the season, defensive end Willie Davis remarked, "I guess this season will be remembered as the one in which we won when we had to. A 9-4-1 record isn't great but nobody can say that we didn't have it when we needed it."
A 17-17 tie with Detroit opened the Green Bay schedule after which the Packers suffered losses to Minnesota, Baltimore, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh before whipping the Los Angeles Rams, 28-7, and the Dallas Cowboys, 21-17, to sew up the NFL championship.
The Raiders dropped only one regular-season game, bowing to the New York Jets, 17-14, before reeling off 11 consecutive victories that included a 40-7 trouncing of Houston in the American Football League title game.
The NFL Department of Pre-Game Entertainment presented a tableau consisting of two 30-foot-high figures, one representing a Packer, the other a Raider and each snorting smoke from three-foot nostrils.
As the two figures approached midfield in a symbolic meeting of champions, an impression arose that this moment marked the last time that these two teams, on this day, would be equally matched.
That suspicion proved eminently correct. The Green Bay practice of calling heads on the coin toss paid off for the second consecutive Super Bowl and the Packers did not squander the opportunity to get on the board.
Moving, as one wire service reported, "with the effervescence of overworked morticians," the Packers marched from their own 34-yard line to the Raiders 32, from where, at 9:53, Chandler kicked a 39-yard field goal.
In the second quarter, an 11-play drive terminated with another Chandler field goal, this one from 20 yards away.
Featured in the drive were short runs by Ben Wilson and a 14-yard scamper by Starr in which he took a hit from defensive end Ben Davidson, then bounced free to find daylight.
Starr lost little time in mounting a third scoring foray, connecting on a 62-yard pass to Boyd Dowler, who sprinted deep down the middle, slipped by the defensive backs and romped all the way untouched.
The thrust demonstrated one of the Raiders' major concerns before the game. "We've never before played such big receivers as Boyd Dowler (6-5) and Carroll Dale (6-4)," cornerback Kent McCloughan had noted. "They are like tight ends but with better speed. If our two outside defensive backs can hold them, we have a chance."
Free safety Howie Williams, formerly with the Packers, gave this version of the scoring play:
"We were in man-for-man coverage. I thought Kent would stay with Dowler, but he released him for me."
Added left corner McCloughan: "It was a mix-up. The way the coverage is supposed to go, if it's a play fake I go for the back and Howie goes for the receiver."
"McCloughan was playing me tight," reported Dowler. "He bumped me and I ran through him. When I got by him there was nobody left to stop me."
Trailing, 13-0, the Raiders struck back on a nine-play, 79-yard drive that included three passes by quarterback Daryle Lamonica and running yardage by Pete Banaszak and Hewritt Dixon. The payoff play was a 23-yard pass to wide receiver Bill Miller, who slipped behind safetyman Tom Brown and brushed the flag as he scored.
"I was supposed to take Miller deep," explained Brown, "but I played him too soft. Dave Robinson (left linebacker) dropped back with him as far as he could, and I should have taken him, but I didn't."
Oakland's defense, designated the "Eleven Angry Men," held the Packers on the following series of downs, forcing Donny Anderson to punt to the Raiders 45, where Rodger Bird fumbled a fair catch with 23 seconds remaining in the half.
Two long passes missed their mark before Starr completed a 12-yarder to Anderson, setting up a 43-yard Chandler field goal that gave the Packers a 16-7 cushion at intermission.
The Green Bay lead soared to 16 points early in the third period on a typical Bart Starr maneuver.
On third-and-one on his own 40, Starr faked to fullback Wilson and passed to Max McGee. The aging receiver, who left no record of his previous night's behavior as he had when he starred in the Super Bowl the preceding year, caught the football behind Bird for a 35-yard gain to the Oakland 25.
"One of the safeties woke up late," quipped Max. "He started over and Bart saw him and adjusted to throw away from him. That's why I had to turn around to catch the ball."
McGee, in his final game as a Packer, played only because of an injury to Dowler. Shades of Super Bowl I!
"I really didn't expect to play," said the 12-year veteran. "I kiddingly told Boyd to get hurt. Damned if he didn't. Damned if I didn't."
From Oakland's 25, Starr's short passes advanced the ball to the 2 and Anderson bulled across. Chandler's conversion gave the Packers a 23-7 advantage.
Before the period had ended, Chandler kicked a fourth field goal, from 31 yards, that struck the crossbar and flopped over.
Both teams scored touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the Packers striking first when cornerback Herb Adderley intercepted a Lamonica pass and streaked 60 yards to the goal line as defensive tackles Henry Jordan and Ron Kostelnik cleared the way with crunching blocks.
"I didn't see Adderley," moaned Lamonica. "We all knew you can't make mistakes against Green Bay and I made the big one. I got good protection, but they took away our outside running game and their secondary was going deep to take away the long pass. We got behind and then had to play their kind of football."
Adderley added, "We designed the defense to take away their runs. We wanted to make them put the ball in the air." On his interception, he said: "Lamonica was trying to hit Fred Biletnikoff on a slant-in. I played the ball and cut in front of him . . . it was no gamble."
To the question "Would you rather play in Los Angeles (site of the 1967 Super Bowl) or Miami?" Adderley replied: "I'll play anywhere for $15,000," the winning players' reward. Each Oakland player received $7,500.
When Chandler kicked the extra point, giving Green Bay its final total of 33 points, he raised his personal total for the day to 15, one more than Oakland was able to score in the game that, as in the case of McGee, marked Chandler's farewell to professional football.
The Raiders' final score came on another 23-yard pass from Lamonica to Miller after an aerial to Banaszak had consumed 41 yards.
Chandler, who had kicked 19 field goals in 26 attempts and 39 extra points in as many tries during the regular season, was one of the more exuberant Packers in the post-game celebration.
"Thankfully," he said, "this game wraps up the best season of my career. I could go on kicking for years, but I just don't have it in my heart anymore. . . . It's time to get to know my kids, build up my business and plant family roots."
Then, remembering the coach who was packing it in also as a Packer, the 33-year-old Oklahoman said, "I owe my career to that man. I owe him everything."
Chandler was remembering how, as a discouraged rookie with the New York
Giants, he had tossed his playbook on assistant coach Lombardi's desk and hitched a ride to the airport, where he was overtaken and persuaded to return to the Giants' camp in 1956.
In 1965, when Chandler had fallen out of grace with the Giants, Lombardi again came to his rescue, obtaining him for the Packers, for whom he had produced 261 points.
In the voting for the game's outstanding player, Chandler's 15 points were considered of less significance than the field generalship and uncanny marksmanship of Starr, who completed 13 of 24 passes for 202 yards. Lamonica hit on 15 of 34 aerials for 208 yards. The Packers netted 322 yards, the Raiders 293.
Summing up the Packers' performance, Lombardi observed, "We didn't miss an opportunity. When we got down there, we got points. When you do that you have no complaints.
"It wasn't our best effort. All year it seemed like as soon as we got a couple of touchdowns ahead, we let up. Maybe it's the sign of a veteran team."
One factor that pleased Oakland coach John Rauch was "that there was never any point where we gave up. We went out there with great confidence and without hysteria. Even at halftime, we felt that we'd come back just as we did so often during the season.
"I was disappointed that we couldn't run better, particularly on sweeps that have been such an important part of our game."
The Raiders gained 107 yards rushing, led by Dixon's 54 yards in 12 carries.
"Maybe we should have run right at 'em," mused Oakland center Jim Otto, who 12 years later would join adversary Adderley in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "One reason our sweeps didn't work was because we could pull only one guard. The other had to stay back and take care of Jordan, who was so fast."
"The Packers were good and their execution was great," conceded Oakland defensive tackle Tom Keating, a surprise starter who spent the afternoon in a life-and-death struggle with Green Bay guard Gale Gillingham.
Suffering from an inflamed, pulled Achilles tendon in his right foot, Keating earned a starting berth only because of his constant harassment of his coaches.
"I was afraid to take a shot (of pain killer) in the ankle," he said afterward, "because I was afraid I might tear it without even knowing it. I didn't see any sense sitting on the bench until someone else got hurt. The foot hurts like hell now and it will hurt even more when I take off the tape."
Understandably, Keating peeled off his silver and black uniform very, very slowly.