For Pete's Sake

By: Pete Fierle

Pete Fierle, Manager - Digital Media/Communications
Pete's familiarity with the game's history is a result of spending two decades surrounded by the world's largest collection of pro football information. His many duties include overseeing the Hall's website as well as the day-to-day operation of the Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center.

My look back at the Super Bowl

Jan 27, 2011
A new "For Pete's Sake" blog appears each Thursday.

I write a blog for each Thursday. I’m using this space this week to devote to the Super Bowl. That’s because next week when you won’t be at a loss for Super Bowl talk, I’ll be writing about something from Dallas that’s not related to the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.

I’ll be at the media headquarters preparing for our big announcement that comes a week from Saturday. Early on Feb. 5, the 44 members of our Selection Committee get locked into a room and for the better part of the day will deliberate on the merits of 17 finalists. No less than four and no more than seven individuals will comprise the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2011. Join us at 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. CT) on that day for a live special on NFL Network when representatives from the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche hand the envelope to Steve Perry, our President/Executive Director. That’s when we all find out who has been elected to the Hall of Fame.

It’s really a thrilling week for me. Each day, the buzz builds as the debate heats up on who should make it to the Hall of Fame. I’ll give you updates throughout the next week as we count down to the election of the Class of 2011.

Now, here’s my special Super Bowl XLV blog.

F – First. Max McGee of the Packers scored the first TD in Super Bowl history. It came on a 37-yard pass from QB Bart Starr on Green Bay’s second possession of the game.

O – “O” as in zero. Not once in 44 Super Bowls has a punt been returned for a touchdown. The longest punt return in Super Bowl history belongs to the 49ers’ John Taylor who had a 45-yard return against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII.

R – Repeat. The Packers and Steelers both repeated as Super Bowl champs. Green Bay, of course won Super Bowls I and II while the Steelers repeated twice, first with Super Bowls IX and X and then Pittsburgh won back-to-back again with Super Bowls XIII and XIV.

Just how much does repeating as a Super Bowl champion mean? In our Behind the Bronze series this season, Steeelers great Jack Ham called Pittsburgh's back-to-back titles as the most rewarding part of his entire career. See his entire interview here>>>>

T – Twelve. That’s the total number of championships won by Green Bay. No team in NFL history has captured more league titles. Among the dozen championships are two “three-peats” for the Packers. They are also the only NFL team to accomplish the feat of winning three straight titles, something they accomplished twice.

For the record, here’s the rundown of what earned Green Bay the nickname “Titletown, U.S.A.” Their first three came in the days before playoffs were introduced so it was their regular record that earned them the crown.

1929 … 12-0-1 record for 1.000 winning percentage since ties didn’t count in the standings until 1972. For the record, their lone non-win came in a 0-0 tie against the Frankford Yellowjackets on Thanksgiving Day)
1930 … 10-3-1 mark. The Packers were unbeaten at home but suffered their three losses and a tie while on the road that season.
1931 … 12-2-0. Green Bay was only narrowly defeated by Chicago, first the Cardinals and then the Bears.
1936 … 10-1-1 as they won the Western Division and then downed the Boston Redskins 21-6 in a game relocated to the Polo Grounds in New York. The following season, the Redskins found a city that would back them when they moved to Washington.
1939 … 9-2-0 to capture another Western Division title and then shut out the New York Giants 27-0 in the championship game in New York.
1944 … Finished with an 8-2-0 record to face the Giants in the title game. Apparently, the Packers weren't as frightened as the program cover (below) implies. They traveled to New York and won the championship with a 14-7 win.

1961 … Vince Lombardi restored the winning ways as the Packers went 11-3-0 and again faced the Giants in the title game. They shut out the Giants 37-0 at Lambeau Field.
1962 … The Packers posted a league-best 13-1-0 to earn a rematch against the Giants. This time the Packers went to New York but the result was the same. Green Bay beat the Giants, 16-7.
1965 … The road to the title included a one-game playoff against the Baltimore Colts. Green Bay won 13-10 in a controversial overtime game to earn the right to face the Cleveland Browns in the championship game. If you’re a Colts fan, you’ll still claim that Don Chandler’s field goal was outside the plane of the left upright and the game should never gone to OT. But, it did and Chandler kicked the Packers into the title game with a field goal in overtime. Once in the championship game, Green Bay beat Cleveland 23-12.
1966 … Green Bay had an NFL best 12-2-0 mark and beat the Dallas Cowboys 34-27 in the NFL championship game. Then, the team made history by winning Super Bowl I.
1967 … The Packers won their second straight Super Bowl title after finishing with a 9-4-1 record to win the Central Division. They followed that with a 28-7 win over the Los Angeles Rams in the conference championship and a second straight victory over the Dallas Cowboys, 21-17, in the NFL championship. Green Bay beat the AFL’s Oakland Raiders 33-14 in the Super Bowl.
1996 … A magical season marked the Packers return to the top of the NFL. They finished as the NFC’s top seed with a 13-3-0 record, knocked off the San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers in the playoffs to earn a spot in Super Bowl XXXI. Then, the Packers beat the New England Patriots, 35-21.

Y – Youngest. The Steelers’ Mike Tomlin is the youngest coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory. Tomlin was 36 years, 323 days old when Pittsburgh beat the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. Another Steelers coach had held that title many, many Super Bowls ago. Hall of Famer Chuck Noll was 43 years, 7 days old when Pittsburgh won Super Bowl IX.

F – Franco Harris. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Hall of Fame running back had many memorable games in his career. Ranking among the top was his MVP performance in Super Bowl IX, the franchise’s first-ever Super Bowl title. No. 32 took it to the Minnesota Vikings defense in the game played in New Orleans’ Tulane Stadium on Jan. 12, 1975. He carried the football 34 times and racked up what was then a Super Bowl record 158 yards and scored what proved to be the game-winning touchdown on a 9-yard run in the third quarter. Before his TD run, the only scoring in the game came on a safety by the vaunted "Steel Curtain" defense.

I –  Roman numeral one
. As hard as it may be to imagine, the first Super Bowl, then simply called the NFL-AFL World Championship Game was hastily thrown together in a couple of weeks. It was the result of the recently agreed upon merger between the American Football League and the National Football League. The Packers put the NFL up 1-0 in the series with a 35-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. The game remains the only Super Bowl not to sell out. But, the 61,946 who showed up at L.A’s Memorial Coliseum did receive some halftime entertainment.

Also, of note, check out the bottom of the photo. The words "Super Bowl" are spelled out which destroys the myth that the name wasn't used until Super Bowl III. Although not officially named yet, the game was described as the Super Bowl from the start.

V – Roman numeral five. Dallas Cowboys Chuck Howley was named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl V. He became the first defensive player to earn the award and today remains the only player from a losing team to be named the Super Bowl MVP.

E – Eleven. The record number of career TD passes thrown in the Super Bowl by Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana. His stat line in his four Super Bowl victories reads 83 completions on 122 attempts for 1,142 yards, 11 touchdowns, and no interceptions for a record 127.8 passer rating.  The three-time Super Bowl MVP had one TD pass in Super Bowl XVI, followed by 3, 2, and 5 in Super Bowls XIX, XXIII, and XXIV respectively.