The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
by John Delach
The New York Football Giants 1966 season turned out to be an absolute disaster, the worst in team history. Entering Week Ten their record was 1-7-1 as head coach Allie Sherman led his boys into DC with their new back-up QB, Tom Kennedy. Three weeks earlier the Giants had plucked Kennedy from the minor league Brooklyn Dodgers of the short-lived Continental League than a stellar addition, he assumed the starters role after Gary Wood, the team’s other sub-par QB hurt his shoulder..
Frank Litsky reported in The New York Times on Saturday, “The Redskins have lost three in a row, but Sonny Jurgensen’s passing will probably make them well.” Jurgy already had 18 touchdown passes, rookie Charlie Taylor had developed into a fast, dangerous receiver and the Giants had been reduced to playing three rookie linebackers, Mike Ciccolella, Jeff Smith and Freeman White who was supposed to be a tight end. The Skins were scheduled to start two former Giants in their backfield, Steve Thurlow, and the bizarre, Joe Don Looney.
Sunday, November 26 produced, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”
The Giants scored 41 points, the most they would score all season.
They out gained the Redskins 389 yards to 341.
They had 25 first downs to the Skins 16.
Joe Morrison caught two TD passes from Wood for 41-yards each.
Homer Jones caught a 50-yard TD pass from Wood.
Wood ran one in for 1 yard.
Aaron Thomas caught an 18-yard TD pass from Kennedy.
The Redskins intercepted the Giants five times and scored on a 62-yard fumble recovery,
a 52-yard punt return and a 62-yard interception.
The two teams scored 16 touchdowns, ten by the Redskins and six by the Giants.
Bobby Mitchell scored the final TD for the Redskins by running the ball for 45-yards. Mitchell had last played as a running back in 1961 with the Cleveland Browns. Normally a flanker back, he shifted position due to injuries to the other running backs. Redskins head coach, Otto Graham told reporters after the game, “He doesn’t even know the plays from that position.”
Kennedy started, but the Redskin defense befuddled him with blitzes and fake blitzes leading to three interceptions in the first half. The sore shouldered Wood replaced him, but finally had to give way to Kennedy again in the fourth quarter.
This opened the door for Kennedy to engineer a bizarre play that led to an all-time scoring record. With seven seconds left on the clock and with the ball on the Giant 22-yard line, Kennedy threw a fourth down pass out of bounds to stop the clock. His excuse was that he thought it was third down which begs the question: With seven seconds left on the clock and your team down 69 to 41, just exactly why are you stopping the clock?
Graham ordered Charlie Gogolak to kick a 29-yard field goal. When asked if his motive was to embarrass the Giants, Graham replied: “Hell no, I didn’t know anything about records. I wanted Gogolak to try a field goal. He hadn’t had a chance all day and he missed two against Cleveland last Sunday. I’m not one to run up the score on anybody.”
But records they did set: It is the only NFL game with a total combined score of over 100 points.
The total of 113 points was 15 more than in another game involving the Giants, a loss in 1948 to the Chicago Cardinals, 63-35.
The Redskins scored the most points ever scored in a regular season game, one shy of the 73 points the Chicago Bears scored against the Redskins in the 1940 championship game.
The 16 touchdowns scored is a record for any NFL game.
The Redskins 10 touch downs and Charlie Gogolak’s 9 PATs tied a record. If Charlie had made his first, another would have been broken.
The New York Times also reported that the Redskins lost $315 in footballs that went into the stands. In this era before nets behind the goal line, 14 Duke footballs, then manufactured by Thorp Sporting Goods costing $22.50 each, became fan souvenirs. The Times article pointed out that the Duke is named after Wellington Mara, the Giants president.
Coach Allie Sherman wasn’t happy either. “I guarantee you this is never going to happen to a team of mine again.”
He was right, but then again, that’s a tough score to replicate. But the Giants did try. The next week in Cleveland, they lost to the Browns 49 to 40. At home against Pittsburgh, they crumbled to the Steelers 47 to 28 before ending the season with a milder 17 to 7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Yankee Stadium.
That game ended the season with a dismal record of 1-12-1.
Truly, the season of our discontent.