The NFL Championship Game on Dec. 28, 1958, between the New York Giants and Baltimore Colts was the first NFL game to go into sudden death overtime. The Colts won, 23-17, in what is widely-regarded as "The Greatest Game Ever Played." A national television audience saw Colts receiver Raymond Berry catch 12 passes (a championship game record) for 178 yards and a score in a game that signaled the beginning of the NFL's surge in popularity.
History of Football at Yankee Stadium
Yankee Stadium, the venerable "House that Ruth Built" that stood for 85 years before being re-opened in 2010, has been the host to some of the most memorable collegiate and professional football games in gridiron history, adding to the rich history of the Stadium. Since Oct. 20, 1923, with Syracuse's 3-0 victory over Pittsburgh, there have been 10 historic moments that are still discussed and reminisced about to this day.
George "The Gipper" Gipp was a first-team All-American at Notre Dame before dying at the age of 25 of streptococcal throat infection just days after leading Notre Dame to a win over Northwestern. While on his hospital bed, he received a visit from coach Knute Rockne before a Nov. 10, 1928, showdown against Army. At halftime of a scoreless game, Rockne urged his squad to win it for Gipp, inspiring the Irish to a 12-6 win at Yankee Stadium.
Second-ranked Notre Dame and top-ranked Army played perhaps the most thrilling contest of their historic rivalry on Nov. 9, 1946, at Yankee Stadium, a 0-0 tie made legendary by John Lujack's well-chronicled saving tackle of Cadet star running back Doc Blanchard late in the game.
Pat Summerall's 49-yard field goal in a swirling snowstorm on Dec. 14, 1958, gave the Giants a 13-10 win over the Cleveland Browns to force a playoff for the NFL East crown. Summerall atoned for a missed 31-yard attempt with four minutes remaining. The following week, New York defeated Cleveland, 10-0, to advance to the 1958 NFL Championship Game.
The Giants romped over the Chicago Bears, 47-7, on Dec. 30, 1956, to win the NFL championship and cap their first season at Yankee Stadium. The game is famous for being played on an icy field in which the Giants wore sneakers instead of cleats, shades of 22 years earlier when the Giants also wore sneakers to play on an icy Polo Grounds in what became known as "The Sneakers Game."
In 1961 the Giants acquired quarterback Y.A. Tittle from the 49ers for guard Lou Cordileone. Tittle went on to lead the Giants to three straight Eastern Division titles. En route, he threw seven touchdown passes to lead the Giants to a 49-34 win over the Redskins on Oct. 28.
One member of the famed Seven Blocks of Granite was future Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi, who later in the 1936 season endured what he called "the most devastating loss of my life." Needing one win for a Rose Bowl berth, the Rams fell to NYU, 7-6, on a muddy Yankee Stadium field on Thanksgiving Day, dropping from No. 3 to No. 15 in the final AP rankings.
Guard Jerry Kramer's three field goals led the Packers to a 16-7 win over the Giants in what proved to be Yankee Stadium's final NFL Championship Game on Dec. 30, 1962. A crowd of 64,892 attended a game played in 13-degree temperatures with 40 mile-per-hour winds.
Nebraska defeated Miami, 36-34, on Dec. 15, 1962, behind MVP George Mira's 321 passing yards and two touchdowns. Only 6,166 attended Yankee Stadium to brave the bitter 14-degree temperature in what was the final Gotham Bowl ever played.
The final Whitney M. Young Urban League classic on Sept. 12, 1987, was also the last football game ever played at the old Yankee Stadium. Central State University of Ohio defeated Grambling, 37-21. Afterwards, Grambling coach Eddie Robinson said, "They just came to play. We didn't."