It was a bitter December night. Two of the best teams of all-time were locked in a hostile conflict; pride was on the line. The two Hall of Fame studded squads donned blood-stained jerseys while visible breath escaped through their face masks.
Lombardi’s Packers vs the Steel Curtain.
Chuck Noll stared across the battlefield at Vince Lombardi just before kickoff. The first half was full of memorable plays. Early in the first quarter Bart Starr play-action-faked to Jim Taylor, dropped back and was violently blindsided by “Mean Joe” Greene and thrown to the turf. Starr fumbled, center Jim Ringo tried to corral the ball but Mel Blount scooped it up and ran it back 34 yards for the touchdown. Later in the first quarter Willie Davis’ rush caused Terry Bradshaw’s pass to Lynn Swann to be under-thrown and picked off by Herb Adderley near the sideline. On the very next play, Paul Hornung took a Packers Sweep 60 yards for a score — you should have seen Jerry Kramer’s block on Jack Lambert. 7-7 end of the first quarter.
Each team recorded a field goal before Franco Harris caught a short pass from Bradshaw and ran it 35 yards down to the Packers’ three-yard line — after being caught from behind by Willie Wood. On the next play Bradshaw faked a handoff but couldn’t find an open receiver. Ray Nitschke blitzed up the middle, pushing past Mike Webster, and pulled Bradshaw to the ground for a seven yard loss. On second down Bradshaw impressively evaded the rush of Henry Jordan and scrambled to his right before hitting John Stallworth for the touchdown reception. Bradshaw’s pass was just over the fingertips of a reaching Dave Robinson. Near the end of the half Starr led the Packers on a two-minute drive. With nine seconds left in the half, a blitzing Jack Ham beat Forrest Gregg around the end, but Starr broke free of his grip and dove into the end zone for the score. 17-17 at the end of the first half.
You remember how the second half played out, right? No? That’s because this game never happened; it didn’t have a chance to. But you can imagine it though, can’t you? Watching the titans of modern-day professional football exchanging blows would be magical.
Unfortunately, two of the greatest all-time teams ever assembled didn’t get to face each other out on the field. Because of that people speculate as to which team was better. Often times when people discuss or rank NFL dynasties they let popularity, mystique, or an emotional attachment influence their thoughts. We sought to eliminate such factors by laying out each dynasties’ exact accomplishments. That way when our minds ponder this question we can do so with the facts to back up our claims.
Which team would have won the game? Which was the better Dynasty? Would Lombardi’s Packers have won the game? Or would the Steel Curtain have dominated the contest? Who knows, all that’s left to do is compare accolades.
1960s Packers Dynasty (Eight Year Stretch Between 1960-1967):
Championships: Five (1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967)
Playoff Appearances: Six (1960, 61, 62, 65, 66, 67)
Winning Percentage: .763% (82-24-4)
Playoff Winning Percentage: .900% (9-1)
Hall of Fame Inductees: 12
AP MVPs: Three
Best Seasons: 1962 (13-1), 1966 (12-2)
1970s Steelers Dynasty (Eight Year Stretch Between 1972-1979):
Championships: Four (1975, 1976, 1979, 1980)
Playoff Appearances: Eight (1972, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79)
Winning Percentage: .762% (88-27-1)
Playoff Winning Percentage: .777% (14-4)
Hall of Fame Inductees: 10
AP MVPs: One
Best Seasons: 1975 (12-2), 1979 (14-2)
As you can see both Lombardi’s Packers and Noll’s Steelers were absolutely chock-full of talent and achieved a legendary amount of success. But which was the better dynasty?
Appropriately both dynasties put together nearly identical winning percentages. The 1960s Packers won one more title and had more Hall of Fame players, but all four of the 1970s Steelers’ championships were Super Bowls when the league had more teams (after the NFL-AFL merger). The Steelers won more playoff games, but the Packers had a better playoff winning percentage. The Packers had a better single season (1962), but the Steelers went to the playoffs in all eight years.
Neither side’s accolades really budge to the others, both are securely etched into the fabric of NFL history as the first two modern-day NFL dynasties. Both teams went back-to-back twice, which is absolutely amazing, but Green Bay was able to three-peat the NFL as well. Both dynasties are responsible for some of the NFL’s most lasting images such as Franco Harris’ immaculate reception, Bart Starr’s Ice Bowl-winning quarterback sneak, Lynn Swann’s juggling catch in Super Bowl X, and Max McGee hauling in the first touchdown in Super Bowl history. And not only are these two dynasties some of the league’s most recognizable historic teams, they are still two of the NFL’s premier flagship franchises — in America and abroad.
It should be noted that both dynasties helped to mold what are commonly referred to as two of the most loyal fan bases in the country. It may, after all, really be too close to call.
But after all, we have to side with Lombardi’s Packers because they won one more championship, won two more AP MVP awards and had two more future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees on their squad. Not to mention the fact they lost just one playoff game. The 1960s Packers are the greater dynasty. However it is a lot closer than a lot of Packers fans would want to admit.