In the 1944 season opener at the Milwaukee State Fair Grounds, the Packers began their title run against the rechristened Brooklyn Tigers (nee Dodgers). As the Dodgers, Brooklyn had struggled since Coach Jock Sutherland left for the military following the 1941 season, finishing 3-8 in 1942 and 2-8 in 1943. Ultimately, things would get worse in 1944, with the team recording an 0-10 mark. Following this sorry season, Brooklyn would be merged into the Boston Yanks for the 1945 season, and then owner Dan Topping would remove the franchise from the NFL to be reborn as the New York Yankees in the new All-America Football Conference in 1946.
On this day, however, they played the future NFL champs almost dead even. The temperature was described as “sweltering” in the Milwaukee Journal and as “mid-summer” in the Green Bay Press-Gazette and was likely in the mid-to upper 80s. Brooklyn outgained the Packers 138 to 116 on the ground, 120 to 102 in the air and with 21 penalties for 160 to nine for 84 for Green Bay. Three Tigers were ejected, as well as Ade Schwammel for the Packers.
While they were still fresh in the first quarter, the Packers marched to the Tiger 28 following the opening kickoff, but two sacks of Irv Comp lost 26 yards and forced a punt. The next time Green Bay got the ball, the offense moved to the Tiger 24, and then Don Hutson caught a Comp pass over the middle at the 16 and scampered into the end zone. 7-0.
The Brooklyn offense was imaginative, featuring a middle screen, bubble screens to the side and several jump passes at the line of scrimmage, but penalties and interceptions by Joe Laws and Hutson stopped them until the third quarter when a long drive culminated in the game-tying touchdown by Pug Manders on a one-yard plunge. Bruiser Kinard booted the extra point standing stock-still and swinging his leg like a pendulum.
Before the end of the quarter, the Packers regained the lead on two plays by the Brocks. Baby Ray blocked a Tiger punt and linebacker Charley Brock recovered it at the Brooklyn 17. On the next play, halfback Lou Brock swept around left end for the concluding score of the game. 14-7 Green Bay.
In the game, Don Hutson lined up for 50 offensive plays and was aligned wide or flexed for 32 of them. In the other 15 Packer offensive plays, both ends were in tight on every play.
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