Off-season Game of the Week

At the time of the game, the Green Bay Packers' 21-0 win over the Washington Redskins on Nov. 22, 1959 was seen as a relief. In retrospect, it has to be considered a franchise-changer.<p>

Under first-year coach Vince Lombardi, the Packers entered the game at City Stadium at 3-5 and in the throes of a five-game losing streak.

The skid – which would turn out to be the longest of the Lombardi era – replaced the euphoria with which the legendary coach began his tenure in Green Bay. After taking over for Ray "Scooter" McLean following a 1-10-1 campaign, Lombardi won his first three games as Packers coach before the team dropped games to the Rams, Colts, Giants, Bears and Colts heading into the tilt with the Redskins.

By the time the 31,853 had watched the home team feast on the Redskins, the Packers had their first shutout since 1949 and the team was on its way to dominating much of the next decade.

"But more important than any individual performance was our team's victory," quarterback Bart Starr wrote of the game in his 1987 autobiography Starr: The Story of My Life in Football. "We had snapped a five-game losing streak. Also, I felt we were beginning to perform as a cohesive unit. We controlled the ball with Lombardi's run-oriented offense and the defense responded with a shutout."

This was also a watershed game for Starr, who was in his fourth season with the Packers and battling Joe Francis and Lamar McHan for time at quarterback.

Making his second start of the season, Starr began to convince Lombardi that he was the choice under center by completing 11 of 19 passes including two touchdowns.

"Bart Starr played an especially fine game," Lombardi said afterward. "He threw well and called an intelligent game."

The Packer defense seized the momentum in the first quarter when they thwarted a Redskin scoring drive deep in their own territory. Press reports of the day indicated the Redskins "gave up possession when the Packers stopped Don Bosseler, the former All-America from Miami, on a line smash."

On the strong legs of running back Jim Taylor, the Packers cruised 94 yards to paydirt in the second quarter to take the lead for good. Taylor accounted for 34 yards on just four carries in the drive and saw his hard work pay off when Starr hit Gary Knaflec with an 11-yard scoring pass.

The Packers made it 14-0 later in the quarter when Starr hooked up with Max McGee on a 10-yard touchdown pass.

The second quarter also featured another sturdy stand by the Packer defense. Washington advanced to the Packer 19 but Tom Bettis and Henry Jordan blunted the march. Bettis trapped Ralph Gugliemi for an 11-yard loss and Jordan blocked a field goal attempt in preserving the shutout.

The defense came up big again in the second half by stalling Redskin drives at the Packer 16 and 9-yard lines.

Green Bay capped the scoring in the third quarter with another prolonged possession. Paul Hornung made it 21-0 with a five-yard plunge that finished off a 76-yard march.

"This was the best combined effort of our offense and defense," Lombardi said. "If we did anything wrong, it certainly wasn't much."

That statement would be applicable for most Packer games for the next decade.

Editor's Note: This is another in a series of memorable games between the Packers and their upcoming opponent.

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