The Packers sweep, also known as the Lombardi sweep, is an American football play popularized by Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. The Packers sweep is based on the sweep, a football play that involves a back taking a handoff and running parallel to the line of scrimmage before turning upfield behind lead blockers. The play became noteworthy due to its extensive use by the Packers in the 1960s, when the team won five National Football League (NFL) Championships, as well as the first two Super Bowls. Lombardi used the play as the foundation on which the rest of the team's offensive game plan was built. The dominance of the play, as well as the sustained success of Lombardi's teams in the 1960s, solidified the Packers sweep's reputation as one of the most famous football plays in history.
The Packers sweep is a variation on the sweep, which is a basic running play in American football. A sweep play involves a back, typically the halfback or running back, taking a pitch or handoff from the quarterback and running parallel to the line of scrimmage. This allows the offensive linemen (usually the guards) and the fullback to block defenders before the runner turns upfield. The sweep can be run out of multiple formations and go either left or right of the center. It is characterized as power football and usually gives the runner the choice to follow the lead blockers inside or outside, depending on how the defense reacts. Various options and changes to the sweep have been implemented to create further deception. These include running option pass plays out of the same formation, changing which blockers pull from the line of scrimmage, and running the play towards different areas of the field. 
The development of what became known as the Packers sweep, also known as the Lombardi sweep, began with Vince Lombardi. He played football at Fordham University on a football scholarship, and was part of the "Seven Blocks of Granite", a nickname for the team's offensive line. This was the first time Lombardi witnessed the success of the sweep. Jock Sutherland's University of Pittsburgh teams used the sweep extensively against Lombardi's team in an era when the single-wing formation was used almost universally. In 1939, after graduation, Lombardi began his coaching career as an assistant at St. Cecilia High School in Englewood, New Jersey. He was promoted to head coach and over eight seasons led St. Cecilia's to multiple championships. With a 32-game unbeaten streak, the school had one of the top high school football programs in the nation. Lombardi attended coaching clinics during this time, where he continued to develop a better understanding of the sweep, especially the techniques of pulling offensive linemen and having the ball carriers cut back towards openings in the line. He moved on from high school to college football as an assistant under Earl "Red" Blaik at West Point in 1948. For five seasons Lombardi served as an assistant coach and further developed his coaching abilities. Blaik's emphasis on players executing their job and the military discipline of West Point greatly influenced Lombardi's future coaching style.
Lombardi's first NFL coaching job came in 1954, when he accepted an assistant coaching job (now known as an offensive coordinator) for the New York Giants. It was with the Giants that Lombardi first implemented the principles that became the Packers sweep. He started to run the sweep using the T formation and positioned his linemen with greater space between each other. He also had offensive tackles pull from the line and implemented an early variant of zone blocking (blockers are expected to block a "zone" instead of an individual defender); this required the ball carrier to run the football wherever there was space. The phrase "running to daylight" was later coined to describe the freedom the ball carrier had to choose where to run the play. Under his offensive leadership and assisted by his defensive counterpart Tom Landry, Lombardi helped guide the Giants to an NFL Championship in 1956. They appeared again in the 1958 Championship Game, this time losing in overtime to the Baltimore Colts. In 1959, Lombardi accepted a head coaching and general manager position with the struggling Green Bay Packers. The Packers had just completed their worst season in team history with a record of 1–10–1. Even though the Packers had not been successful for a number of years, Lombardi inherited a team in which five players would go on to be Pro Football Hall of Famers. He immediately instituted a rigorous training routine, implemented a strict code of conduct, and demanded the team continually strive for perfection in everything they did.
The first play Lombardi taught his team after he arrived in Green Bay was the sweep. He moved Paul Hornung to the halfback position permanently (in the past he had been poorly utilized in different back positions) and made him the primary ball-carrier for the sweep. The Packers sweep, as it became known, was the team's lead play and the foundation on which the rest of the offensive plan was built. For the team to succeed, Lombardi drilled them constantly on the play, expecting it to be executed perfectly every time (it was common for the team to run the play at the beginning and end of every practice).  The play became the epitome of Lombardi's philosophy: a simple, fundamentally sound play that was reliant on the entire team working together to move the ball.
Even though each player had a role to perform, the execution of the center, the pulling guards, and the halfback were essential to the play's success. The center had to cut off the defensive tackle or middle linebacker to prevent the defender from breaking up the play behind the line of scrimmage. This was due to the right guard (when the play was run to the right side of the field), who would vacate this space while pulling to lead the ball carrier. The most difficult block fell on the left guard, who had to pull the whole way across the field to be the lead blocker. The left guard also had to decide, based on how the defense reacted, whether to push the play to the inside or outside of the tight end. The ball carrier, usually the halfback, then decided whether to go inside or outside as well. The fullback, tight end, and left tackle also had essential blocks that dictated the success of the play.
For nine seasons Lombardi ran the Packers sweep with great success, with one estimate claiming the play gained an average of 8.3 yards each time it was run in the first three seasons under Lombardi. Overall though, the play was known as gaining "four-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust" that would allow the Packers to control the game clock, slowly moving the ball down the field and exhausting the defense.
Even when defenses shifted to try to stop it, Lombardi would either attack other weaknesses or would run variations of the sweep. Tom Landry, as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, had his defense linemen "flex" (line up in an offset position) to prevent the runner from finding the cutback lanes that were essential to the success of the sweep. In response to Landry's flex defense, Lombardi would run other types of running plays attacking the new positions of the defensive linemen. Lombardi would also counter other defensive adjustments by running the sweep to the left side, having various blockers not pull, switching the ball carrier, or running option pass plays—each of which could be run out the sweep formation.
Other coaches in the league had great respect for the Packers sweep, although most acknowledged the success of the play was based on two criteria: great players and perfect execution.  During his tenure, Lombardi had three offensive linemen (Jim Ringo, Forrest Gregg, and Jerry Kramer), two backs (Hornung and Jim Taylor), and one quarterback (Bart Starr) who were later elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Each of those offensive players was instrumental to the success of the Packers sweep and thus the offense. Ringo, Gregg, Kramer, and Taylor each provided key blocks for Hornung to run the sweep. Starr (who as the quarterback orchestrated the play) and Taylor were essential to variations of the sweep that called for different runners or option pass plays.
In addition to the Hall of Famers, Lombardi's teams included other highly decorated players, such as first-team All-Pro Fuzzy Thurston, the left guard who had the most challenging blocking assignment in the sweep. Many of these players identified Lombardi's coaching and drive for perfection as important factors behind their accomplishments and the team's success, acknowledging that perhaps it was Lombardi's coaching of the sweep and other plays that helped the players achieve Hall of Fame status, not just that he happened to have "great players" that made the sweep so effective. 
Fuzzy Thurston (left) and Jerry Kramer (right) were featured as the two lineman that pulled as lead blockers for the Packers sweep. Kramer was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018, while Thurston was an All-Pro offensive lineman.
At its core, the Packers sweep was a simple play that relied on all members of the team precisely executing their responsibilities. This level of teamwork, coordination, and execution epitomized the Packers of the 1960s under Lombardi. In nine seasons at the helm, Lombardi and his sweep led the Packers to five NFL championships, as well as victories in Super Bowl I and II. The team won three straight championships in 1965, 1966, and 1967—only the second team to accomplish this feat (the other being the 1929, 1930, and 1931 Packers).
Five offensive players who played under Lombardi in the 1960s were later elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame; Lombardi was elected shortly after his death in 1970. Three of these Packers (Hornung, Starr, and Taylor) won NFL MVP awards in the 1960s. Much of the Packers' offensive success was based on the threat of running the sweep. Lombardi exploited the dominance of the play to take advantage of defenses and run the offense to his team's strengths. This sustained success established the Packers sweep as one of the most famous football plays in history.
The 1955 Idaho Vandals football team represented the University of Idaho in the 1955 college football season. The Vandals were led by second-year head coach Skip Stahley and were members of the Pacific Coast Conference. Home games were played on campus at Neale Stadium in Moscow, with one home game in Boise at old Bronco Stadium at Boise Junior College.
Idaho compiled a 2–7 overall record and lost all four games in the PCC. After seven losses to open, including three straight shutouts, they won their last two games.
The Vandals lost the Battle of the Palouse with neighbor Washington State, blanked 0–9 at home on October 15. Idaho won the previous year in Pullman, the first win over the Cougars since 1925; the next came in 1964. In the rivalry game with Montana, the Vandals ran their winning streak over the Grizzlies to four and retained the Little Brown Stein.1956 Idaho Vandals football team
The 1956 Idaho Vandals football team represented the University of Idaho in the 1956 NCAA University Division football season. The Vandals were led by third-year head coach Skip Stahley and were members of the Pacific Coast Conference. Home games were played on campus at Neale Stadium in Moscow, with one home game in Boise at old Bronco Stadium at Boise Junior College.
Idaho compiled a 4–5 overall record but were 0–4 in the PCC. After four losses to open, the Vandals won three straight, then split the final two games.
After road losses to Washington and Oregon, the Vandals suffered a second straight loss in the Battle of the Palouse with neighbor Washington State, falling 19–33 at home on October 6. Following the game, skirmishes between student factions provoked the Moscow city police to use tear gas to control the situation. The following week, Idaho was depleted by injuries and came out on the short end of a 41-point homecoming shutout by Arizona State.The most recent winning season for Idaho football was 18 years earlier in 1938, and the Vandals were a win shy in 1956. The streak was broken seven years later in 1963.1957 Idaho Vandals football team
The 1957 Idaho Vandals football team represented the University of Idaho in the 1957 NCAA University Division football season. The Vandals were led by fourth-year head coach Skip Stahley and were members of the Pacific Coast Conference. Home games were played on campus at Neale Stadium in Moscow, with one home game in Boise at old Bronco Stadium at Boise Junior College.
Led on the field by quarterbacks Howard Willis and Gary Kenworthy, Idaho compiled a 4–4–1 overall record and were 0–3 in the PCC.
The Vandals suffered a third straight loss in the Battle of the Palouse with neighbor Washington State, falling 21–13 at Rogers Field in Pullman on November 16. The loss prevented the first winning season for Idaho football since 1938. In the rivalry game with Montana, the Vandals ran their winning streak over the Grizzlies to six and retained the Little Brown Stein.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.1966 NFL Championship Game
The 1966 National Football League Championship Game was the 34th NFL championship, played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. It was the final game of the 1966 NFL season.
It determined the champion of the National Football League (NFL), which met the champion of the American Football League (AFL) in Super Bowl I, then formally referred to as the first AFL–NFL World Championship Game. The Western Conference champion Green Bay Packers (12–2), defending league champions, were hosted by the Dallas Cowboys (10–3–1), the Eastern Conference champions.
The home field for the NFL Championship alternated between the two conferences; even-numbered years were hosted by the Eastern and odd-numbered by the Western. Starting with the 1975 season, playoff sites were determined by regular season record, rather than a rotational basis.
The New Year's college bowl game at the Cotton Bowl for the 1966 season included the SMU Mustangs of Dallas. It was played the day before, New Year's Eve, which required a quick turnaround to transform the natural grass field. The two games were filled to the 75,504 capacity, but both local teams came up short.American football plays
In American football a play is a close to the ground "plan of action" or "strategy" used to move the ball down the field. A play begins at either the snap from the center or at kickoff. Most commonly plays occur at the snap during a down. These plays range from basic to very intricate. Football players keep a record of these plays in their playbook.Fuzzy Thurston
Frederick Charles "Fuzzy" Thurston (December 29, 1933 – December 14, 2014) was an American football player who played offensive guard for the Baltimore Colts and the Green Bay Packers.Green Bay Packers cheerleaders
Several Green Bay Packers cheerleading squads have performed in Green Bay Packers' history. The Packers became one of the first professional football teams to have a cheerleading squad, having first used cheerleaders in 1931. The squad performed for 57 years under three separate names. In 1988, it was decided that the team would cease having a professional squad cheer for them. Since 1988, the team uses collegiate squads in a limited role to cheer during home games.Green Bay Packers records
This article details statistics relating to the Green Bay Packers.Guard (American and Canadian football)
In American and Canadian football, a guard (G) is a player who lines up between the center and the tackles on the offensive line of a football team on the line of scrimmage used primarily for blocking. Right guards (RG) is the term for the guards on the right of the offensive line, while left guards (LG) are on the left side. Guards are to the right or left of the center.
The guard's job is to protect the quarterback from the incoming linemen during pass plays, as well as creating openings (holes) for the running backs to head through. Guards are automatically considered ineligible receivers, so they cannot intentionally touch a forward pass, unless it is to recover a fumble or is first touched by a defender or eligible receiver.Jerry Kramer
Gerald Louis Kramer (born January 23, 1936) is a former professional American football player, author and sports commentator, best remembered for his 11-year National Football League (NFL) career with the Green Bay Packers as an offensive lineman.
As a 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m), 245-pound (111 kg) right guard, Kramer was an integral part of the famous Packers sweep, a signature play in which both guards rapidly pull out from their normal positions and lead block for the running back going around the end. Kramer was an All-Pro five times, and a member of the NFL's 50th anniversary team in 1969.
Before his election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018 at age 82, Kramer was noted for being a finalist for the Hall ten times without being voted in. In 2008, he was rated No. 1 in NFL Network's Top 10 list of players not in the Hall. Kramer was inducted into the Hall of Fame on August 4, 2018. At his induction speech, he often quoted something his high school coach had told him: "You can if you will".Jim Ringo
James Stephen Ringo (November 21, 1931 – November 19, 2007) was a professional American football player, a Hall of Fame center and coach in the National Football League (NFL). He was a ten-time Pro Bowler during his fifteen-year playing career.List of Green Bay Packers stadiums
The Green Bay Packers are a professional American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Since their establishment as a professional football team in 1919, the Packers have played home games in eight stadiums. Their first home was Hagemeister Park, where they played from 1919 to 1922, including their first two seasons in the National Football League (NFL). Hagemeister Park was a park owned by the Hagemeister Brewery. During games ropes were set-up around the field and attendees either walked up or parked their cars nearby. After the first season, a small grandstand was built and the field was fenced off. Green Bay East High School was built at the location of Hagemeister Park in 1922, which forced the Packers to move to Bellevue Park, a small minor league baseball stadium that seated about 5,000. They only played for two seasons at Bellevue Park before moving to City Stadium in 1925. Although City Stadium was the Packers' official home field, in 1933 they began to play some of their home games in Milwaukee to attract more fans and revenue. After hosting one game at Borchert Field in 1933, the Packers played two or three home games each year in Milwaukee, at Wisconsin State Fair Park from 1934 to 1951 and at Marquette Stadium in 1952. The games were moved to Milwaukee County Stadium after it opened in 1953 and continued through 1994, after which the Packers moved back to Green Bay permanently.As of 2018, the current home of the Green Bay Packers is Lambeau Field, an 81,435 seating capacity stadium in Green Bay, Wisconsin. By the 1950s, City Stadium was seen by the NFL as too small and outdated to host an NFL team. After threats of forcing the team to move to Milwaukee, the City of Green Bay built New City Stadium, which was funded by a voter-approved bond issue, in 1957. In April 1956, Green Bay voters overwhelmingly approved the bond issue to finance the new stadium. After the Packers founder Curly Lambeau died in 1965, the stadium was renamed to Lambeau Field in his honor. Its original capacity was 32,500 seats, although it was continually expanded from 1961 to 1995 to a capacity of 60,890 seats. The stadium was farther renovated from 2001 to 2003 to increase capacity to 72,515, while also updating various aspects of the stadium. Over 7,000 more seats were added to the south endzone in 2013 and the Lambeau Field Atrium was expanded in 2015. These renovations increased the stadium's capacity to 81,435, making it the third largest football stadium in America. Lambeau Field has been continuously ranked as one of the best stadiums in the NFL NFL. As of 2018, it is also the oldest continually operating NFL stadium, with the Packers having completed their 61st season. Only the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park and the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field have longer active home-field tenures in American professional sports.Pulling (American football)
Pulling is when a blocking player in American football leaves his usual spot in order to pick up another assignment on the opposite side of the field, running behind the other offensive linemen, to sprint out in front of a running back and engage a defensive player beyond the initial width of the offensive line.Rockwood Lodge
Rockwood Lodge was the training facility of the Green Bay Packers from 1946 through 1949. Originally built in 1937 as a retreat for a local Norbertine Order, the lodge was purchased by Packers coach and general manager Curly Lambeau in 1943 and then heavily renovated to serve as the Packers training facility, making it the first self-contained training facility in pro football history. Although the facility was state-of-the-art at the time, many members of the Packers franchise and local fans complained of its large cost, distance from Green Bay, Wisconsin, and its poor practice field. The lodge burned down in 1950, with the likely cause being faulty electrical wiring. The Packers received $75,000 in insurance money from the fire, which would be used to help reestablish the Packers long term financial security. Lambeau resigned from the Packers just a week after the fire. The Rockwood Lodge site would go on to be purchased by Brown County, Wisconsin and developed into a public park.Smashmouth offense
In American football, a smashmouth offense is an offensive system that relies on a strong running game, where most of the plays run by the offense are handoffs to the fullback or tailback. It is a more traditional style of offense that often results in a higher time of possession by running the ball heavily. So-called "smash-mouth football" is often run out of the I-formation or wishbone, with tight ends and receivers used as blockers. Though the offense is run-oriented, pass opportunities can develop as defenses play close to the line. Play-action can be very effective for a run-oriented team.Student Body Right
Student Body Right is a simple running play in American football known as a sweep right, in which the tailback runs toward the right end of his offensive line at the snap of the ball and receives a pitch from his quarterback before reaching the line of scrimmage, while his fullback, offensive tackle, and end move from the left side pull to the same side in order to serve as lead blockers for the ball carrier. The inverse play is known as Student Body Left.Sweep (American football)
A sweep is a running play in American football where a running back takes a pitch or handoff from the quarterback and starts running parallel to the line of scrimmage, allowing for the offensive linemen and fullback to get in front of him to block defenders before he turns upfield. The play is run farther outside than an off tackle play. Variants of the sweep involve the quarterback or a wide receiver running with the ball, rather than a running back.Vince Lombardi
Vincent Thomas Lombardi (June 11, 1913 – September 3, 1970) was an American football player, coach, and executive in the National Football League (NFL). He is best known as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers during the 1960s, where he led the team to three straight and five total NFL Championships in seven years, in addition to winning the first two Super Bowls at the conclusion of the 1966 and 1967 NFL seasons. Following his sudden death from cancer in 1970, the NFL Super Bowl trophy was named in his honor. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971, the year after his death. Lombardi is considered by many to be the greatest coach in football history, and he is more significantly recognized as one of the greatest coaches and leaders in the history of any American sport.Lombardi began his coaching career as an assistant and later as a head coach at St. Cecilia High School in Englewood, New Jersey. He was an assistant coach at Fordham, at the United States Military Academy, and with the New York Giants before becoming a head coach for the Green Bay Packers from 1959 to 1967 and the Washington Redskins in 1969. He never had a losing season as a head coach in the NFL, compiling a regular season winning percentage of 72.8% (96–34–6), and 90% (9–1) in the postseason for an overall record of 105 wins, 35 losses, and 6 ties in the NFL.
|Division championships (18)|
|Conference championships (9)|
|League championships (13†)|
|Current league affiliations|
Championship seasons in bold