50 years ago, the Packers and Cowboys staged a prequel to the Ice Bowl

BY Barry Werner • January 12, 2017

The Dec. 31, 1967 Ice Bowl is an indelible NFL memory brought to the fore every time the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys meet in the playoffs, as they will Sunday (4:40 p.m. ET, FOX). What many fans don't remember is that 1967 started with the same Packers and Cowboys playing for the NFL championship on Jan. 1 in the Cotton Bowl.

And all that was on line in the teams' very first playoff meeting -- which took place 50 years ago last week -- was the NFL's spot in the inaugural Super Bowl.

The conditions on the first day of the year at the Cotton Bowl were downright balmy -- 40 degrees -- compared to what the teams would face on the final day of 1967 in Green Bay.

Bart Starr was the star of the game for Green Bay, completing 19 of 28 passes for 204 yards and four touchdowns.

“Nothing could compare with this,” Mark Duncan, supervisor of officials for the NFL and once the defensive coach of the San Francisco 49ers, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “This game had everything – tremendous execution by both offenses against two of the best defenses in football, a fast start by the Packers, a great rally by a young team like the Cowboys and then, of course, that finish.

“No one ever played a better game at quarterback than Bart Starr did today. If anyone ever did, you’d have to show me, and I wouldn’t believe it.”

With less than two minutes left in the game and the Packers holding onto a 34-27 lead, Brown interfered with tight end Frank Clarke, whose 68-yard touchdown catch earlier in the quarter closed the gap to seven points. The pass interference penalty was actually charged to Dave Robinson — Brown admits it was him, though — and the result was a Dallas first-and-goal from the 2.

After a 1-yard carry by Dan Reeves, the Cowboys had a second-and-goal from the 1. Then a timely false-start call backed Dallas up to the 6, and after an incomplete pass and a Pettis Norman reception, the Cowboys had a fourth-and-goal from the 2, with the game on the line.

"They came out in a certain formation that dictated that myself and Herb Adderley were going to play what we called in-and-out," Brown said, detailing a strategy where he would switch to the wide receiver and the cornerback Adderley would cover the tight end on a pass play depending on how the offense lined up.

As part of the play, Robinson was supposed to patrol the flat, but the linebacker abandoned his assignment and chased after Meredith, who had rolled out on a bootleg pass. Robinson ended up with a clear path to Meredith, wrapped him up and pulled him to the ground, forcing a wild throw to try to keep the game alive.

"He throws the ball up in the air, and I just happened to be right there," said Brown, who came down with the game-sealing interception. "It wasn’t an outstanding, great interception. I was just in the right place at the right time.

"And it’s a good thing, too," Brown added. "I might have been traded in the offseason if they’d scored a touchdown because I was responsible for them getting so close to the goal line in the first place."

"They had Bob Hayes in tight, and he tried to block me. I wasn’t going to let him do that, but from the pressure, I figured I should get to the outside. Then I saw Meredith with the ball, and on a rollout to my side, it’s my job to pressure him, I don’t know how I got past the blocker – it was a guard or tackle pulling – but I think I kind of slipped behind him, and that gave me a clear path to Meredith.”



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