1955 NFL Replay: Thrown to the Lions?

You have to love NFL game program artwork from the 1950s, don’t you? Usually they featured anthropomorphized or caricature versions of the mascots of the two teams, but the one above, from the Lions/Packers game of Sept. 25, 1955, was a bit different. It’s a David vs. Goliath theme, with the Lions (the three-time defending Western Conference champions and NFL title winners in 1952 and 1953) playing the part of Goliath and the Packers (who had finished 4-8-0 and just a game ahead of the last-place Colts in ’54) holding the slingshot.

Even the most optimistic Packer Backer1Did that term exist in 1955? had to be wary, as Green Bay had gone 2-4 in the preseason2I’m old enough to remember when NFL teams played six preseason games. Just insane., while the Lions looked sharp, winning their final five tuneups before the teams met at City Stadium3Eventually known as “Old City Stadium” when a new City Stadium – which you now know as Lambeau Field – was built in 1957. on the first Sunday of the 1955 season.

Well, that’s why they play the games, as they say. In real life, the Packers scored late to beat the Lions 20-17. In my APBA Football replay of the game – part of my 1955 season replay – it wasn’t anywhere near that close. Green Bay turned in a remarkable defensive effort that keyed a 40-14 rout, despite being outgained and outrushed. It wasn’t quite a win of Biblical proportions, but surely answered the prayers of thousands of Wisconsinites.

The story, stats and play-by-play are below:

Pack Smacks Layne, Lions in ’55 Opener

Packers/Lions action
Packer running back Floyd “Breezy” Reid gains some of his 82 rushing yards in the 40-14 rout of the Detroit Lions on Sept. 25, 1955. Courtesy Getty Images.

GREEN BAY (Sept. 25, 1955) – A swarming Green Bay defense intercepted three Lion passes, recovered three fumbles and sacked Bobby Layne five times as the Packers walloped Detroit’s defending Western Conference Champions 40-14 on Sunday afternoon at City Stadium.

Green Bay scored 24 points off the six Detroit turnovers, while Tobin Rote was the model of efficiency with an 8-for-15, 164-yard, two touchdown passing day in the Packers’ largest margin of victory since 1952.

Rote threw touchdown passes of 73 yards to Gary Knafelc in the first quarter and 20 yards to Billy Howton in the second as the Packers built a 17-0 halftime lead.

Layne led the Lions on a 13-play, 60-yard drive in the first that ended with a missed field goal by Doak Walker, but his two fumbles led to 10 Packer points in the first half and seven more in the third when Dave Hanner scooped one up and raced 35 yards for another score.

By the time Detroit got on the board on a 44-yard run by Lew Carpenter 90 seconds into the fourth, it only made the score 33-7. The Packers went on to record their largest margin of victory since Nov. 23, 1952, when they beat the Dallas Texans 42-14.

Harry Gilmer relieved the beleaguered Layne late in the fourth and managed to throw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Jim Doran with 20 seconds left, but it was far too little and far too late. Carpenter did set a new league record for running backs with 12 receptions in the defeat.

Sunday, Sept. 25, 1995 at City Stadium
Score by Periods	1	 2	 3	4	-	 T
Detroit Lions		0	 0 	 0     14	-	14
Green Bay Packers	7	10	16	7	-	40
GBP - 	Knafelc 73 pass from Rote (Cone kick)		  2:00
GBP - 	FG Cone 15					  2:30
GBP - 	Howton 20 pass from Rote (Cone kick)		 13:30
GBP - 	FG Cone 20					  5:15
GBP - 	Hanner 35 fumble recovery (Cone kick)		  6:15
GBP - 	Reid 68 run (kick failed)			  8:30
DET - 	Carpenter 44 run (Walker kick)			  1:30
GBP - 	Ferguson 4 run (Cone kick)			 12:15
DET - 	Doran 55 pass from Gilmer (Walker kick)		 14:40


Detroit: Carpenter 4-83, 44t lg, 1 td; Hart 3-33, 13 lg; Middleton 5-22, 10 lg; Layne 5-19, 11 lg; Gilmer 1-18, Stits 2-2, 6 lg
Green Bay: Ferguson 22-87, 10 lg, 1 td; Reid 13-82, 68t lg, 1 td; Dahms 1-22; Rote 3-10, 4 lg; Cone 1-0; Johnson 3-0, 4 lg; Deschaine 1-(-20)
Detroit: Layne 17-39-3, 170 yards, 25 lg; Gilmer 2-6-0, 62 yards, 1 td, 55t lg
Green Bay: Rote 8-15-0, 164 yards, 73t lg, 2 td
Detroit: Carpenter 12-115, 25 lg; Doran 2-74, 1 td, 55t lg; Middleton 2-27, 24 lg; Dibble 2-10, 5 lg; Girard 1-6
Green Bay: Knafelc 3-120, 73t lg, 1 td; Howton 2-22, 20t lg; Ferguson 1-10; Johnson 1-9, Switzer 1-3.

Click here for the recap and final statistics
Click here for the play-by-play

Kenn Tomasch

Kenn Tomasch