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The 1938 NFL Championship game will be remembered for Curly Lambeau's half time incident.

NFL Countdown: Packers lose NFL Championship game under the most peculiar circumstances courtesy of Curly Lambeau

The Green Bay Packers were the best team in football during the 1938 NFL season. However, that counted for little in the NFL Championship game of the season.

The Packers were the highest-scoring team in the league with 223 points, topping the second-placed Giants and Bears, who scored 194 points on the year respectively.

NFL in Ballparks

Polo Grounds, NYC, Dec 4, 1938 - In the final game of the season and in front of 57,461, the Giants wallop the Washington Redskins 36-0 to earn a trip to the NFL Championship game, where they would beat the Green Bay Packers 23-17 to win their second NFL title

Green Bay went through the season with an 8-3 record, which gave them first place in the NFL Western Conference. Leading into the last game of the season against the Giants, Green Bay was riding the height of a five-game win streak before losing to New York 15-3.

Cecil Isbell and Arnie Herbert split quarterback duties as both were jacks of all trades, being tailbacks and fullbacks as well as the team's quarterbacks.

The Giants were defensive juggernauts during the 1938 season. They had a 5-2-1 record, which gave them the top spot in the NFL Eastern Conference. Across their 11 games, they only gave up 79 points. The next best was 108 by the Detroit Lions.

This meant New York had a weapon it could rely on in the championship game.


Packers v Giants in NFL Championship game

The slightly-favored Giants took the lead in the first quarter, courtesy of a Ward Cuff 14-yard field goal. New York then added to their lead with a six-yard rushing touchdown from Tuffy Leemans to put the Giants up 9-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Green Bay's top-scoring offense struck back in the second quarter when Arnie Herber went deep to Carl Mulleneaux with a 40-yard bomb to find the endzone. The score brought the Packers within two points of the Giants.

OTD 1938

Giants are severely outgained by the Packers, but TWO first quarter blocked punts help NY build an early lead en route to a 23-17 win over GB at New York's Polo Grounds.

• Championship game then-record crowd of 48,120
• Giants' 3rd NFL title

However, the Giants again extended their lead with a 21-yard pass from Ed Danowski to Charles Barnard. The touchdown put New York up 16-7. The Packers then hit back with a one-yard rush from Charles Hinkle to again bring Green Bay back to within two points.


Curly Lambeau causes a scene at halftime

Curly Lambeau was famously locked out of the ground at halftime. Photo via packers.com

The game was heating up as the Packers were only down by two points. However, the most famous thing about the game happened at halftime and it involved Packers coach Curly Lambeau.

As Lambeau was making his way to his team’s locker room for his halftime team talk, he made a wrong turn and found himself outside of the ground, locking himself out.

The coach then made his way to the front gate and tried to get back inside, but to no avail as the guards refused him entry. It wasn't until several sportswriters on the ground heard the commotion and told the guards who he was that he was allowed back into the ground.


Some think that this led to the Packers losing the Championship game. In the third quarter, though, Green Bay finally took the lead with a Tiny Engebretsen field goal to go up 17-16.

However, the Giants hit back with a 23-yard touchdown strike from Danowski that found Hank Soar to put New York up 23-17.

That would put an end to the scoring as the Giants held on to secure a famous victory and cap off their defensively dominant season with an NFL championship.

Edited by
Nicolaas Ackermann
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