To get to their first Super Bowl in 29 years, the Green Bay Packers needed to defeat the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship Game on January 12, 1997 at Lambeau Field. In conditions somewhat reminiscent of the Ice Bowl, the teams took the field with the temperature at 3 degrees and the wind-chill factor at -16. It was a game of memorable plays, mostly by the Packers, and the greatest day of Dorsey Levens’ career (205 rushing and receiving yards). Let’s recall the nine biggest moments of that great game:
- Taking over at his own six after the Panthers’ second punt in the first quarter, Brett Favre tries to hit Don Beebe with a slant, but Panther linebacker Sam Mills picks off the pass and returns it to the Packer two. Two Play later Kerry Collins hits fullback Howard Griffiths for a three-yard score and Carolina takes the early lead, 7-0.
- On the last play of the first quarter, Dorsey Levens takes a handoff on third and one from the Packer 36, cuts right through a giant hole and gains 35 yards before being brought down by corner Eric Davis.
- On the first play of the second quarter, Levens splits out wide, hoping to draw coverage from a linebacker. Instead, Davis took Levens and stayed right with him into the end zone. Favre lofted a jump ball that Levens grabbed and held onto despite Davis’ efforts to rip it free while landing just an inch inbounds. Touchdown. Tie ball game.
- On the Packers’ next series, Favre is sacked for a 14-yard loss and fumbles in the process with linebacker Lamar Lathon recovering for Carolina. Seven plays later, the Panthers take the lead on a 22-yard field goal.
- Completing a 70-yard, 16-play drive that uses up nearly eight minutes, the Packers score the go-ahead touchdown on a six-yard fade pass to Antonio Freeman with under a minute to play in the first half. Freeman told Fowler and Chandler for The Year of the Cat, “I gave a little fake and gained some separation. By the time I turned around, Brett had put the ball in the corner of the end zone. I faded into it, scored the touchdown, and five days later…cover of Sports Illustrated.” 14-10 Packers
- On the first play after the ensuing kickoff, corner Tyrone Williams makes a spectacular one-handed interception of a Kerry Collins deep ball to Willie Green. The Packers take over at their own 38 with 35 seconds to play. After 23- and 25-yard strikes to Andre Rison and Freeman, Chris Jacke kicks a 31-yard field goal with 10 seconds left. 10 points in 40 seconds. 17-10 Packers at the half.
- Driving from their own 12 to start the second half, the Packers reach the Panther 32 where, on third and seven, Favre is bear-hugged by blitzing linebacker Kevin Greene, but still manages a two-handed underhand toss to Levens who gains eight yards for the first down. Four plays later, Jacke kicks a 32-yard field goal to make the score 20-10.
- After a Panther field goal narrows the margin to 20-13, Favre counters another Carolina blitz with a soft screen to Levens who follows a wall of blockers 66 yards to the Panther four where Eric Davis brings him down. Edgar Bennett scores on the next play. Green Bay 27-13.
- On the next Carolina possession, Gilbert Brown crushes runner Anthony Johnson, whose fumble is recovered by Leroy Butler at the Panther 47. 11 plays later with 10 minutes to play in the game, Jacke converts a 28-yard field goal for the final score in the game, Green Bay 30 Carolina 13. On to the Super Bowl.
Custom cards in 1961 Fleer style.