1960 NFL season

1960 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 23 – December 18, 1960
East Champions Philadelphia Eagles
West Champions Green Bay Packers
Championship Game
Champions Philadelphia Eagles

The 1960 NFL season was the 41st regular season of the National Football League.

Before the season, 33-year-old Pete Rozelle, the general manager of the Los Angeles Rams, was elected NFL commissioner as a compromise choice on the twenty-third ballot. [1] [2] Meanwhile, the league expanded to 13 teams in late January with the addition of the Dallas Cowboys, with a fourteenth team, the Minnesota Vikings, to start in 1961. [3] [4] [5] [6] Also, the Cardinals relocated from Chicago to St. Louis and became the St. Louis Cardinals, [7] [8] [9] the same moniker as the major league baseball team.

In the championship game, the host Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Green Bay Packers by four points at Franklin Field. [10] [11] [12] [13] Two years earlier in 1958, both teams had finished in last place in their respective conferences, combining for only three wins. This loss was Vince Lombardi's only post-season defeat as an NFL head coach. Following this loss in 1960, Lombardi's Packers won five NFL championship games in seven years, and easily won the first two Super Bowls.

The NFL introduced the Playoff Bowl, a game for third place between the runners-up from each conference. Played at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, after the NFL Championship game, it benefitted the players' pension fund. The Detroit Lions played the Cleveland Browns in the inaugural game and the Lions won by a point, [14] the first of three straight wins by Detroit in the series.

The two-time defending league champion Baltimore Colts led the Western Conference after their bye in Week 9, but lost the last four games to finish at .500 and fourth in the West. The New York Giants, winners of the Eastern Conference the previous two seasons, won only one of their final five games and finished third in the East.

During this season, the American Football League (AFL) was launched as a competitor to the NFL. The two leagues co-existed for the entire 1960s, agreed to a merger in 1966, and became one combined league in 1970.

Conference races

All teams but Dallas played a home-and-away game against the other five members of their own conference, one inter-conference game, and one game against the new team (Dallas). This was the final season for the 12-game schedule in the NFL. The Cowboys, although assigned to the Western Conference, were a "swing team" and played each team once. (Byes were necessary because of the odd number of teams in the league (13); one team was idle in each of the 13 weeks.) The Cowboys' first game saw them take a 14–0 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers on a Saturday night at the Cotton Bowl, with Jim Doran catching a pass from Eddie LeBaron for the first score, but lost 35–28. [15]

Eastern

Philadelphia lost its opener at home to Cleveland, 41–24, then went on a nine-game winning streak. The breakthrough came in Week Six on October 30, when unbeaten New York (3–0–1), two-time defending conference champions, came off their bye and lost at home to St. Louis, 20–13, while the Browns and idle Eagles were both at 4–1. In Week Seven, New York beat Cleveland, 17–13, and the Eagles beat Pittsburgh 34–7. [16] The Eagles clinched the Eastern Conference after ten games at 9–1; [17] they dropped a game the next week in the snow at Pittsburgh, [18] and finished the regular season at 10–2, 1½ games ahead of Cleveland. Two of the wins in the streak were in consecutive games (November 20 and 27) against New York. In the latter game, the Eagles trailed 17–0, then 23–17, before Norm Van Brocklin threw two touchdown passes in the final quarter for a 31–23 victory. In the former, the Giants' Frank Gifford was severely injured in a tackle by linebacker Chuck Bednarik late in the game [19] that almost ended his career. [20] [21] New York entered that November 20 game at 5–1–1, but won only once in the last five games, including a tie to Dallas, the Cowboys' sole non-loss of the year, and finished third in the Eastern at 6–4–2. The Giants won the next three conference championships for five in six seasons, but not the league title.

Western

The Western Conference race was one in which Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, and San Francisco all had a lead at one time. The Bears fell back after a Week Six loss to the 49ers, 25–7. In Week Seven, the 4–2 Colts and the 4–1 Packers met on November 6 in Green Bay. Two-time defending NFL champion Baltimore, which had lost an earlier match, won 38–24, to take the lead in the Western. In Week Ten, the Colts (6–2) came off their bye and lost at home to San Francisco, 30–22, to begin a streak of four defeats. Baltimore's 20–15 loss to the Lions, and Green Bay's 41–13 win at Chicago, tied the Colts and Packers at 6–4 in Week Eleven. After the Packers' 13–0 win at San Francisco, their record was 7–4, while the Colts, Lions and 49ers were all at 6–5. San Francisco and Detroit both won the next week, the former beating Baltimore 34–10, but the Packers won the day before, downing Los Angeles 35–21 for the Western title, their first in 16 years. [22]

The new Dallas Cowboys lost their first ten games but managed a 31–31 tie against the Giants at Yankee Stadium in New York on December 4. They finished at 0–11–1, a winning percentage of .000, rather than .042. Under the rules at the time, ties were ignored in computing winning percentage, which was changed prior to the 1972 season.

Conference leaders

Week Western Record Eastern Record Bye
1 Tie (Bal, Chi) 1–0–0 4 teams (Cle, NYG, Pit, St.L) 1–0–0 Detroit
2 Baltimore Colts 2–0–0 Tie (Cle, NYG) 2–0–0 Washington
3 4 teams (Bal, Chi, GB, SF) 2–1–0 New York Giants 3–0–0 Cleveland
4 Tie (Bal, Chi) 3–1–0 Tie (Cle, NYG (3–0–1)) 3–0–0 Green Bay
5 Tie (GB, Chi (3–1–1)) 3–1–0 New York Giants 3–0–1 New York
6 Green Bay Packers 4–1–0 Tie (Cle, Phi) 4–1–0 Philadelphia
7 Baltimore Colts 5–2–0 Philadelphia Eagles 5–1–0 Chicago
8 Baltimore Colts 6–2–0 Philadelphia Eagles 6–1–0 San Francisco
9 Baltimore Colts 6–2–0 Philadelphia Eagles 7–1–0 Baltimore
10 Baltimore Colts 6–3–0 Philadelphia Eagles 8–1–0 Los Angeles
11 3 teams (Bal, GB, SF) 6–4–0 Philadelphia Eagles  (clinched) 9–1–0 Pittsburgh
12 Green Bay Packers 7–4–0 Philadelphia Eagles 9–2–0 St. Louis
13 Green Bay Packers  (clinched) 8–4–0 Philadelphia Eagles 10–2–0 Dallas
  • A bye week was necessary in 1960, as the league had an odd-number (13) of teams; one team was idle each week.
    The fourteenth team ( Minnesota) joined the league in 1961 and the NFL initiated a 14-game regular season.
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