1963 New York Giants season
|1963 New York Giants season|
|Head coach||Allie Sherman|
|Home field||Yankee Stadium|
|Division place||1st NFL Eastern|
Lost NFL Championship|
(Chicago Bears, 14–10)
The 1963 New York Giants season was the 39th season for the club in the National Football League. The Giants won their third consecutive NFL Eastern Conference title with an 11–3 record, their sixth in eight years, but again lost the NFL championship game. This loss was to the Chicago Bears, 14–10 at Wrigley Field, in the Giants' final post-season appearance until 1981.
Giants quarterback Y. A. Tittle produced one of the greatest passing seasons in NFL history. Tittle had had a breakout season the previous year, but according to Cold Hard Football Facts, "[h]e was even better in 1963, breaking his own record set the year before with 36 TD passes while also leading the league in completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating. Tittle's G-Men scored a league-leading 32.0 [points-per-game] and he lifted his team to an epic title-game showdown with the Bears, who possessed what was easily the league's best defense in 1963 (10.3 [points-per-game])."
A familiar figure on the offensive line, four-time Pro Bowl selection Wietecha, retired after a decade of service, and Greg Larson took over his job at center. Other new faces included third-string quarterback Glynn Griffing (who would spend just a single season in the NFL), linebacker Jerry Hillebrand, and offensive tackles Lane Howell and Lou Kirouac. There was nothing new about the face of Hall of Fame bound Hugh McElhenny, who put on a Giants uniform for the first time in 1963 after 11 years as a star fullback with the San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings. McElhenny stayed with the Giants for just a single season, and of the 12 new players on the Giants' roster in 1963, only Hillebrand and John Lo Vetere spent more than two seasons with the team.
The Giants were facing competition as the lowly New York Titans, the laughingstock of the American Football League, were bought in March by a group headed by Sonny Werblin, who changed the team name to the New York Jets. Though still in the archaic Polo Grounds in 1963, they moved into the new Shea Stadium in 1964 and gained quarterback Joe Namath in January 1965.
For Y.A. Tittle, 1963 was his finest season. The New York offense was flooded with capable receivers. Del Shofner, Frank Gifford, Alex Webster, Joe Morrison, Joe Walton, and Thomas were joined by the newly acquired McElhenny, who had already caught many a pass from Tittle when both played for the San Francisco 49ers. Complementing the offense was Don Chandler, whose accurate place-kicking enabled him to become the league's leading scoring in 1963.
But the brightest of the stellar attractions would be the come-from-behind quarterback himself, who had to rescue the 1963 season with yet another miracle finish. Although Tittle threw three touchdown passes for a 37–28 victory in the season opener against the Baltimore Colts, his ribs were injured in the third quarter, and he was forced to spend the rest of the game, and the entire next game as well, on the sideline. Reserve quarterbacks Gugliemi and Griffing were of little help in game 2, a 31–0 drubbing of the Giants at Pittsburgh. Fortunately for New York, Tittle recovered in time for the third game of the season.
In victories over the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins, Tittle threw a total of five touchdown passes. The defense came alive as well, especially Dick Lynch, who intercepted three Sonny Jurgensen passes in New York's defeat of the Eagles.
Since their move to Yankee Stadium in 1956, the Giants' home openers were perennially delayed by the stadium's prime tenant, the New York Yankees. In 1963 the home opener was the fifth game of the season and was against the Cleveland Browns. Jim Brown and the undefeated Browns kept their perfect record intact and increased its Eastern Conference lead over the Giants to two games with a 35–24 victory. With nine games remaining in the 1963 schedule, New York's 3–2 record did not seem particularly hopeful.
During the next five games, however, Tittle shifted the Giants' offense into overdrive, averaging an astounding 39.6 points per game. The sweetest of the victories was a 33–6 shellacking of the Browns in the face of 84,000 stunned Cleveland spectators. Before a frustrated Jim Brown was ejected late in the fourth quarter for fighting with a New York defender, he had been held to a mere 40 yards rushing.
In the final nine games in the 1963 regular season, the Giants lost only once, a 24–17 to the St. Louis Cardinals at Yankee Stadium, two days after the assassination of President Kennedy. (Commissioner Pete Rozelle received broad criticism from many quarters allowing the regular schedule to proceed on that Sunday, for it had been set aside as a national day of mourning. The AFL postponed its four games.) New York closed out the season with big wins over the Dallas Cowboys, Redskins, and Steelers, and the Giants captured their third consecutive Eastern Conference crown on the final Sunday of the season to finish 11–3, a game ahead of the Browns.
Throughout the autumn of 1963, the air above Giants football games virtually hummed with forward passes. The team has amassed 3,558 total passing yards, a mere 47 shy of the Baltimore Colts, who were led by Johnny Unitas. More importantly, Tittle led the NFL with 36 touchdown tosses, breaking his one-yard-old single-season of 33. But New York's passing game was to be severely tested by the league's acknowledged defensive leader: The Chicago Bears.
|1||September 15||at Baltimore Colts||W 37–28||1–0|| |
|2||September 22||at Pittsburgh Steelers||L 31–0||1–1|| |
|3||September 29||at Philadelphia Eagles||W 37–14||2–1|| |
|4||October 6||at Washington Redskins||W 24–14||3–1|| |
|5||October 13||Cleveland Browns||L 35–24||3–2|| |
|6||October 20||Dallas Cowboys||W 37–21||4–2|| |
|7||October 27||at Cleveland Browns||W 33–6||5–2|| |
|8||November 3||at St. Louis Cardinals||W 38–21||6–2|| |
|9||November 10||Philadelphia Eagles||W 42–14||7–2|| |
|10||November 17||San Francisco 49ers||W 48–14||8–2|| |
|11||November 24||St. Louis Cardinals||L 24–17||8–3|| |
|12||December 1||at Dallas Cowboys||W 34–27||9–3|| |
|13||December 8||Washington Redskins||W 44–14||10–3|| |
|14||December 15||Pittsburgh Steelers||W 33–17||11–3|| |
|Championship||December 29, 1963||at Chicago Bears||L 14–10||Wrigley Field|| |
|NFL Eastern Conference|
|New York Giants||11||3||0||.786||9–3||448||280||W3|
|St. Louis Cardinals||9||5||0||.643||8–4||341||283||L1|
Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.
- Date: Sunday, September 15
- Game weather: 54 °F (12 °C); wind 11 mph (18 km/h)
- Box Score
- Joe Morrison 12 Rush, 120 Yds
NFL Championship Game
For details of the game, see 1963 NFL Championship Game
Awards and honors
- Y.A. Tittle, NFL MVP
- Y.A. Tittle, Franchise Record, Most Touchdown Passes in One Season, 36 Touchdown Passes
- Cold Hard Football Facts: The Dandy Dozen: 12 best passing seasons in history
- Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014-Nov-27.
- Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014-Sep-02.
- NFL 2001 Record and Fact Book, Workman Publishing Co, New York,NY, ISBN 0-7611-2480-2, p. 130