Game Notes: Packers vs. Lions 10/26/41

The 5-1 Packers went to Detroit to face the 1-3-1 Lions who were coming off a 49-0 loss to the Bears  . The Lions were coached by Bill Edwards, Bill Belichick’s godfather, who is in the College Football Hall of Fame for his 168-45-8 record in 24 years coaching at Case Western, Vanderbilt and Wittenberg. Steve Belichick, Bill’s father, played for Edwards at Case Western and joined the Lions with his coach in 1941 as equipment manager/trainer, but was activated as a player two weeks prior to this game.

The Lions were led by Whizzer White who had led the NFL in rushing his first two seasons in the league, but his third and final pro season was not as successful. He still led the Lions in rushing, scoring, kick and punt returns and punting, but averaged just 2.7 yard per rush and had his troubles against Green Bay in this game.

On Detroit’s second play from scrimmage, White fumbled and Andy Uram recovered for Green Bay at the Lions’ 18. Although the Packers opened the game with Harry Jacunski and Ed Frutig at the ends and a backfield of Hal Van Every, Larry Buhler, George Paskvan and Uram, when they moved the ball to the 12 in came Cecil Isbell, Lou Brock and Larry Craig in the backfield and Don Hutson at end. On this lineup’s first play, Hutson split out wide to the left, ran an out to the end zone untouched and caught Isbell’s pass for the game’s first score.

By my count, Hutson played 29 of the Packers 63 offensive plays. On 15 of them, he split out wide and flexed out about four yards on another 11. He lined up tight to the line only three times. In the 34 offensive plays with Hutson on the bench, only four times was one of the other receivers lined up wide.

In the second quarter, guard Lee McLaughlin broke in to block a Lions’ punt and that led to a 25-yard Clarke Hinkle field goal and a 10-0 lead. Guard Smiley Johnson began to drop out of the line as a middle linebacker in this quarter and was very active. He dropped one interception but then deflected another pass that Tony Canadeo picked off.

The big play of the next Packer drive came with halfback Lou Brock split wide as a flanker, also unusual for the time, catching the ball in the flat and taking the pass 30 yards. However, the Pack turned the ball over on downs at the Lions’ four. The Lions punted the ball back to Green Bay, but once again the Packers turned the ball over on downs deep in Lions territory. Some more dynamic defensive play by Smiley Johnson forced Detroit to punt again, and this one only travelled 12 yards. Two deep passes by Isbell to Carl “Moose” Mulleneaux completed the scoring drive, the second a 26-yarder for the touchdown. An interception by Herman Rohrig ended the half with Green Bay up 17-0.

In the third quarter, Uram would have runs of 30 and 60 yards, but the Packers did not score: missing a field goal and turning the ball over on downs again. Andy gained 103 yards on seven carries this game. In the final quarter, Baby Ray tackled Whizzer White hard and forced a fumble that was recovered by Charley Brock at the Lions’ 19 and returned it to the six. Enter Hutson and Isbell from the bench again for a six-yard TD toss. The Lions only highlight of the game came on a Packer punt late in the game. Steve Belichick swung around behind the bouncing ball around the 20, scooped it up, cut back, caused two Packers to miss him and scored on what was officially a 77-yard punt return.

Following this match, the Lions would go 3-2 to end the season third in the West at 4-6-1. Green Bay won the next week against the Bears and finished the year 10-1, tied with Chicago atop the West. However, they decisively lost the playoff between the two 33-14.

1941auram  1941cmulleneaux

1941bray  1941sjohnson2

1941cisbell  1941dhutson

All custom cards are colorized.

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