1965 NFL season

The 1965 NFL season was the 46th regular season of the National Football League. The Green Bay Packers won the NFL title after defeating the Cleveland Browns in the championship game, the last before the Super Bowl era.

1965 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 19 –
December 26, 1965
East ChampionsCleveland Browns
West ChampionsGreen Bay Packers (playoff)
Championship Game
ChampionsGreen Bay Packers

War with the AFL

The NFL's war with the rival American Football League began to increase as the two leagues competed for the top players coming out of college. Prior to the season, both the NFL's Chicago Bears and the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs selected running back Gale Sayers in their respective league drafts. Sayers eventually decided to sign with the NFL's Bears in a victory for the established league. On the other hand, quarterback Joe Namath was selected by both the NFL's St. Louis Cardinals and the AFL's New York Jets, but Namath decided to play for the Jets after signing a $427,000 contract for three years.

This war between the AFL and the NFL would escalate until just before the 1966 season, when they would agree to merge and create a new AFL-NFL World Championship Game between the winners of the two leagues, that later would be known as the Super Bowl.

Major rule changes

  • A sixth official, the Line Judge, is added to the officiating crew.[1] This change is sometimes referred to as the "Fran Tarkenton Rule" after the Minnesota Vikings quarterback, who developed the nickname scrambler as he ran around the backfield to avoid being sacked by the opposition. With the Line Judge stationed on the line of scrimmage opposite the Head Linesman, it made it easier for the officials to judge whether or not Tarkenton or any mobile quarterback crossed over the line before throwing the ball.[2] Five officials had been used since 1947, when the back judge was added.[3]

Conference races

Each team played each of the six other teams in its conference twice. In addition, each team played two of the seven teams from the other conference to complete the 14 game schedule. Thus each week's schedule included 6 intra-conference games (3 from each conference) and one inter-conference game. In 1965 the Western Conference dominated the Eastern winning 13 out of the 14 interconference games. The lone win for the Eastern Conference was a 39–31 victory by Dallas over San Francisco in week eight.

As in 1964, the Eastern Conference race started out as a battle between the Cardinals and the Browns. By Week Five (October 17), both had 4–1–0 records, but the Cards won only one more game after that, finishing 5–9. The Browns won all seven of their remaining divisional games during the same stretch, losing only their two inter-conference games against Western opponents. The Browns had clinched the conference title by November 28.

In the Western race, Green Bay won its first six games before a 31–10 loss at Chicago on Halloween put it in a tie with the Baltimore Colts. In Week Eight (November 7), the Packers lost again, 12–7 to Detroit, while the Colts beat Chicago 26–21. Both teams won their next two games, but in Week Eleven, the Packers lost 21–10 to the Rams, and the Colts averted a loss by tying the Lions, 24–24. In Week Twelve, Green Bay closed the gap with a 24–19 win over the Vikings, while the Colts fell to Chicago, losing the game (13–0) and their star quarterback, Johnny Unitas, to a knee injury.

With backup Gary Cuozzo passing for the Colts, they met the Packers again, in Baltimore, on December 12, and Paul Hornung scored five touchdowns as Green Bay won, 42–27, to take a half-game division lead, 10–3 to 9–3–1. Along with the conference lead, the Colts lost another quarterback when Cuozzo was injured. In the final weekend, the Colts were in Los Angeles for a Saturday game that they had to win, but were losing 17–10. A tying touchdown by fourth-string quarterback Ed Brown helped the Colts knot the game 17–17, but a tie wasn't enough. It took Lou Michaels' field goal to get a 20–17 win and a 10–3–1 record. A Green Bay win the next day in San Francisco would have ended the race, and the Packers leading and were slightly more than a minute away from the title game, but the 49ers tied the game, 24–24, with 1:07 to play. Both Green Bay and Baltimore had 10–3–1 records, forcing a playoff for the day after Christmas.

Week Western Record Eastern Record
1 4 teams 1–0–0 3 teams 1–0–0
2 3 teams 2–0–0 Dallas Cowboys 2–0–0
3 Tie (Det, GB) 3–0–0 4 teams 2–1–0
4 Green Bay Packers 4–0–0 Tie (Cle, StL) 3–1–0
5 Green Bay Packers 5–0–0 Tie (Cle, StL) 4–1–0
6 Green Bay Packers 6–0–0 Cleveland Browns 5–1–0
7 Tie (Bal, GB) 6–1–0 Cleveland Browns 5–2–0
8 Baltimore Colts 7–1–0 Cleveland Browns 6–2–0
9 Baltimore Colts 8–1–0 Cleveland Browns 7–2–0
10 Baltimore Colts 9–1–0 Cleveland Browns 8–2–0
11 Baltimore Colts 9–1–1 Cleveland Browns 9–2–0
12 Baltimore Colts 9–2–1 Cleveland Browns 10–2–0
13 Green Bay Packers 10–3–0 Cleveland Browns 10–3–0
14 Tie (Bal, GB) 10–3–1 Cleveland Browns 11–3–0

Final standings

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT= Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against

Note: Prior to 1972, the NFL did not include tie games when calculating a team's winning percentage in the official standings

Eastern Conference
Cleveland Browns 11 3 0 .786 363 325
Dallas Cowboys 7 7 0 .500 325 280
New York Giants 7 7 0 .500 270 338
Washington Redskins 6 8 0 .429 257 301
Philadelphia Eagles 5 9 0 .357 363 359
St. Louis Cardinals 5 9 0 .357 296 309
Pittsburgh Steelers 2 12 0 .143 202 397
Western Conference
Green Bay Packers 10 3 1 .769 316 224
Baltimore Colts 10 3 1 .769 389 284
Chicago Bears 9 5 0 .643 409 275
San Francisco 49ers 7 6 1 .538 421 402
Minnesota Vikings 7 7 0 .500 383 403
Detroit Lions 6 7 1 .462 257 295
Los Angeles Rams 4 10 0 .286 269 328


Because the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Colts ended up tied in the Western Conference standings after the regular season ended, a conference playoff game was held in Green Bay at Lambeau Field. Although the Packers had defeated the Colts in both of their games in 1965, there were no tiebreaking rules at the time.

In the playoff game, both Colts starting quarterback Johnny Unitas and backup Gary Cuozzo could not play, so Baltimore was forced to use Tom Matte, normally a running back, as quarterback. (Matte played the position in college at Ohio State.) Packer quarterback Bart Starr was injured on the first play from scrimmage and did not return to the game, relieved by Zeke Bratkowski. Green Bay's Don Chandler kicked a 27-yard field goal with less than two minutes remaining to tie the game and it went to overtime. Chandler kicked the game-winning 25-yard field goal after 13 minutes, 39 seconds of extra time. The following week at Lambeau, Starr returned and the Packers defeated the Cleveland Browns in the NFL championship game, the last before the Super Bowl era.

Home team in capitals

Western Conference Playoff Game

  • GREEN BAY 13, Baltimore 10 (OT)

NFL Championship Game

  • GREEN BAY 23, Cleveland 12

Playoff Bowl

The Playoff Bowl was between the conference runners-up, for third place in the league. This was its sixth year (of ten) and it was played a week after the title game.


Most Valuable Player Jim Brown, Fullback, Cleveland
Coach of the Year George Halas, Chicago


The 1965 NFL Draft was held on November 28, 1964 at New York City's Summit Hotel. With the first pick, the New York Giants selected back Tucker Frederickson from Auburn University.


Eastern Conference

Western Conference

See also


  1. ^ "Football so fast, complex: NFL adding sixth official". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. July 25, 1965. p. 3, sports.
  2. ^ Strickler, George (February 20, 1965). "Sixth N.F.L. official to watch scramblers, clock". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, sec. 2.
  3. ^ "National League officials to work in crews of six (five)". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. August 19, 1947. p. 6, part 2.

Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)

1965 NFL Championship Game

The 1965 National Football League Championship Game was the 33rd championship game for the National Football League (NFL), played on January 2, 1966, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This was the first NFL championship game played in January, televised in color, and the last one played before the Super Bowl era.

The game matched the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Browns (11–3), the defending NFL champions, and the Green Bay Packers (10–3–1) of the Western Conference. A week earlier, the Packers defeated the Baltimore Colts in a tiebreaker Western Conference playoff at County Stadium in Milwaukee, while the Browns were idle. The Packers were making their first appearance in the championship game in three years, since their consecutive wins in 1961 and 1962. Green Bay was relegated to the third place Playoff Bowl the previous two seasons, with a victory over the Browns and a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The home field for the NFL title game alternated between the conferences; in odd-numbered seasons, the Western team was the host. Home field advantage was not implemented in the NFL playoffs until 1975.

With the 23–12 victory, the Packers won their ninth NFL title, sixth in the championship game era.

1965 NFL playoffs

The 1965 NFL playoffs determined the champion of the National Football League in professional American football. Although a single championship game between conference winners was the current format for the league, a tie in the Western Conference standings between the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Colts necessitated a divisional one-game playoff, the first in the league in seven years and the first in the Western conference since 1957.

Although the championship game was played in 1966 on January 2, it is recognized as part of the 1965 NFL season. It was the latest date for an NFL Championship Game to that point, and the first time in league history that the game was held after all of the college bowl games.

The Playoff Bowl (a consolation game between the conference runners-up) for the 1965 season took place in Miami on January 9, 1966. The Colts defeated the Dallas Cowboys 35–3. This capped a season where the Western Conference won 15 out of 16 interconference games against the Eastern Conference, including the championship game and Playoff Bowl.

1965 New York Giants season

The 1965 New York Giants season was the franchise's 41st season in the National Football League. The Giants were led by fifth-year head coach Allie Sherman and finished with a 7–7 record, which placed them in a tie for second in the Eastern Conference with the Dallas Cowboys, four games behind the Cleveland Browns. The Cowboys won both meetings with the Giants and gained the berth as the conference runner-up in the third place Playoff Bowl in Miami.

Bob Timberlake (American football)

Robert W. Timberlake (born October 18, 1943) is a former American football player who played college football for the University of Michigan Wolverines from 1962 to 1964 and for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL) in 1965.

Timberlake was the starting quarterback for Michigan who led the Wolverines to the 1964 Big Ten Conference championship and a 34–7 victory over Oregon State Beavers in the 1965 Rose Bowl. Timberlake was selected as a first-team All-American in 1964, received the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the Big Ten, and finished fourth in the 1964 Heisman Trophy voting. Over his three years at Michigan, Timberlake rushed for 315 yards and passed for 1,507 yards. He was responsible for 19 touchdowns, eleven rushing and eight passing. He also served as the team's punter and placekicker with six field goals, 36 extra points, and a total of 121 points scored.After a brief career in professional football, Timberlake became an ordained Presbyterian minister. Even during his football career, Timberlake was outspoken about his Christian faith. He has also been active in Habitat for Humanity. Since 2003, he has been on the faculty of Marquette University where he teaches courses in community service and affordable housing.

Cowboys–Steelers rivalry

The Cowboys–Steelers rivalry is a rivalry in the NFL. The Cowboys currently lead the all-time series 17–15. As the two teams met in the Super Bowl 3 times and play in different conferences (In which the Dallas Cowboys are in the NFC East and the Pittsburgh Steelers are in the AFC North), they only meet once every 4 regular seasons and occasionally in the preseason.

List of Minnesota Vikings first-round draft picks

The Minnesota Vikings joined the National Football League (NFL) in 1961. The Vikings' first draft selection as an NFL team was Tommy Mason, a running back from Tulane University. The team's most recent first-round selection is Mike Hughes, a cornerback from Central Florida.

Every April, each NFL franchise seeks to add new players to its roster through a collegiate draft known as the "NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting", more commonly known as the NFL Draft. Teams are ranked in reverse order based on the previous season's record, with team with the worst record picking first, the team with the second-worst record picking second, and so on. The two exceptions to this order are made for teams that appeared in the previous Super Bowl; the Super Bowl champion always picks last, and the Super Bowl loser always picks second-last. Teams have the option of trading away their picks to other teams for different picks, players, cash, or a combination thereof. Thus, it is not uncommon for a team's actual draft pick to differ from their assigned draft pick, or for a team to have extra or no draft picks in any round due to these trades.

The Vikings have selected number one overall twice. The Vikings received the first pick in 1961 as an expansion franchise and then again in 1968 when the franchise chose Ron Yary, an offensive tackle from the University of Southern California. The Vikings have used first-round selections on players from the University of Southern California five times, Michigan State University four times, and from the University of Notre Dame, Oklahoma State University, Ohio State University and Florida State University three times. The Vikings have drafted 10 running backs, the most common position drafted by the franchise, followed by defensive end (9), defensive tackle (8), offensive tackle (7) and linebacker (7). Six eventual Hall of Famers have been selected by the Vikings in the first-round: Carl Eller, Alan Page, Chris Doleman, Randall McDaniel, Ron Yary, and Randy Moss.

Lombardi (play)

Lombardi is a play by Eric Simonson, based on the book When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss.

Mike Nixon

Michael Regis Nixon (November 21, 1911 – September 22, 2000) was an American football player, coach and scout who spent close to a half-century connected to the game. His most prominent positions were as head coach of the National Football League's Washington Redskins and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Tom Fears

Thomas Jesse Fears (December 3, 1922 – January 4, 2000) was an American football split end for the Los Angeles Rams in the National Football League (NFL), playing nine seasons from 1948 to 1956. He was later an NFL assistant coach and head coach of the New Orleans Saints, and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He played college football for the UCLA Bruins football team and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

1965 NFL season
Early era
Modern era

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.