Flanker Frank Gifford had been running sideline patterns against corner Glenn Glass
Although it wasn’t quite as spectacular as his one-handed scoop catch in the same game, Frank Gifford catches a pass in front of Dick Haley (27) in the Eastern Conference clincher against the Steelers on the final day of the 1963 season. Note that both teams are wearing sneakers on the frozen field. (Photo courtesy of AP Images)
ALL game long, flanker Frank Gifford had been running sideline patterns against corner GLenn Glass. At this key juncture in the third quarter,
Y. A. Tittle (14) called a wing zig-in pLay. Gifford (16) ran straight for Glass (43) and dipped his shoulder as if he were running another out, but when Glass bit on the fake, Gifford headed across the middle of the field. Tittle’s pass was Low, but Gifford scooped it up and made the first down. The Giants went on to score the cLinching touchdown on this drive.
That third-down pass to Gifford did it. If he doesn’t make that play, they have to kick. We can come back and score again, the way we’re going, and take the lead. Maybe take the game. Who knows? throughout the contest. At this key moment of the game, Y. A. Tittle called a wing zig-in play. Gifford faked running another out and instead headed across the middle of the field, leaving Glass going in the wrong direction. Tittle’s pass was low, but Gifford bent over and scooped it up at his knees with just one hand and scurried upfield. Glass caught up to Gifford at the Pittsburgh 47 and tackled him after a 29-yard gain. Tittle went back to Gifford on the next play, for 25 yards. He then shot a short pass to fullback Joe Morrison, who ran down the sideline for a 22-yard touchdown.
Three minutes later, Morrison scored his second touchdown of the day on a short plunge, and New York had a commanding 30-10 lead. Pittsburgh added another touchdown on a bomb to Buddy Dial, and Chandler would close out the scoring in the final period with a field goal that gave him the NFL scoring title.
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As a team, the Giants led the league in points by a wide margin, averaging five points per game more than their nearest competitor. In the NFL title game, though, they would meet the Bears who that year had set a new record for fewest points allowed in a 14-game season and fall short behind a hobbled Tittle in their last hurrah.
I thought Gifford would catch it all along, but I didn’t realize I had thrown it so low until he reached for it.
With the final field goal in this game, Don ChandLer became just the third Giants player to lead the league in scoring (after Ken Strong in 1934 and Choo Choo Roberts in 1949). No Giants player has managed the feat since. The 1963 season was Chandler’s second as a place-kicker, but his eighth as the team’s punter, and he performed both jobs well.
Chandler was a triple-threat back at the University of Florida who was drafted by the Giants in the fifth round in 1956 and converted into a punting specialist. Chandler had initial doubts about professional football, and he left camp before being intercepted at the airport by an enraged Vince Lombardi, who brought him back. Chandler rewarded that faith by leading the NFL in punting in 1957; Dave Jennings and Sean Landeta are the only other Giants punters to lead the league. When Pat Summerall retired in 1962, Chandler took over the place-kicking duties as well. After scoring more than 100 points in his first two years as a kicker, Chandler had an off year in 1964, and Allie Sherman traded him to Vince Lombardi’s Packers for a third-round pick, which the Giants used on Bob Timberlake.
While Timberlake was hitting just one of 15 field-goal attempts and then vanishing from the league, Chandler joined Green Bay in time for its late 1960s three-peat. He kicked the controversial 1965 playoff field goal against the Colts that led to the uprights being raised 20 feet the following year. Two years later he scored 15 points in his final game, Super Bowl II. Chandler played in nine title games in 12 seasons and won four championship rings, including ones in both his first and last seasons.
Kicker Don Chandler led the NFL in scoring in 1963 no Giants player has done so since.
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