|Duration||September 28 –|
December 14, 1958
|East Champions||New York Giants (playoff)|
|West Champions||Baltimore Colts|
The 1958 NFL season was the 39th regular season of the National Football League.
The Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants, 23–17, in the first sudden-death overtime in an NFL Championship Game. The game became known to American football fans as "The Greatest Game Ever Played."
The 1958 NFL Draft was held on December 2, 1957 and January 28, 1958 at Philadelphia's Warwick Hotel. With the first pick, the Chicago Cardinals selected quarterback King Hill from Rice University.
The 1958 season is regarded as a watershed year in which the popularity of professional football in the United States began to rival that of baseball in the public imagination. "Professional football was beyond coming of age in 1958," one writer enthused, "it was on an even plane with baseball as the game of the people."
Stadium attendance was robust throughout the league, with crowds in excess of 100,000 twice filling the Los Angeles Coliseum to see the Los Angeles Rams, while the Detroit Lions managed to sell a staggering 42,000 season tickets in advance of the 1958 campaign, ensuring home sellouts at Briggs Stadium.
At the other end of the attendance spectrum, the Chicago Cardinals faltered with the live gate, overshadowed again by the legendary Bears. The team ultimately moved two of their home games for 1959 to Minneapolis before permanently departing for St. Louis the following year.Similarly, the Pittsburgh Steelers were disappointed with their attendance in their new home at Schenley Field, which proved difficult to access and provided a particularly windy and inhospitable place to watch a game. The team sought to remedy its problems by opting out of its two year lease.
Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown electrified football fans around the league by gaining more than 1,500 yards on 257 carries, an average of 5.9 yards per carry.The powerful Cleveland runner smashed the previous NFL record of 1,146 yards in a 12 game season, set by Steve Van Buren in 1949. He also nearly doubled the total of the second leading ground-gainer of 1958, fullback Alan Ameche of the Baltimore Colts. Brown's 17 touchdowns scored similarly dwarfed the tallies of any other player, with Colts end Raymond Berry second on the list with 9 scores.
Young wide receiver Del Shofner of the Los Angeles Rams led all receivers with 1,097 yards gained on 51 catches — a bountiful average of 21.5 yards per completion.Baltimore quarterback Johnny Unitas made use of a plethora of offensive weapons, connecting with halfback Lenny Moore for nearly 950 yards and wide out Ray Berry for nearly 800 more, leading the league with 2,875 yards passing. Unitas' interception percentage of 2.7% was also a league low among starting quarterbacks. San Francisco 49ers QB John Brodie led the league with a completion percentage of 59.9%.
On the defensive side of the ball, defensive back James Patton of the New York Giants lead the league with 11 interceptions in the 12 game season, followed by Pittsburgh Steelers defender Jack Butler with 9.Quarterback sacks were not an official statistic in this era, but the league-low 183 points allowed by the New York Giants (15.25 per game) give testimony to the stoutness of their defensive unit.
The 1958 Colts–Giants title game was a milestone in the popularity of pro football, but the Giants almost did not qualify. The Cleveland Browns led the Eastern Conference title race up until the final week. On December 14, the 9–2 Browns visited the 8–3 Giants. As a snowstorm swept over Yankee Stadium, the Browns' 10–3 lead gave way to a 10–10 tie game on Frank Gifford's pass to Bob Schnelker, which would still have suited Cleveland. The Giants' Pat Summerall missed a 31-yard field goal with 4½ minutes left. With two minutes to play, Summerall had another opportunity from 49 yards out, in inclement weather and connected for a 13–10 win.The Browns and Giants finished with 9–3 records, and in the playoff the next week, the Giants won again at Yankee Stadium, 10–0.
The Western Conference race was over after ten games, with the Colts at 9–1, and the Bears and Rams mathematically eliminated at 6–4. The Colts lost their final two games on the road in California to finish at 9–3, a game ahead of Chicago and Los Angeles.
The Green Bay Packers finished with a league-worst record of 1–10–1 and hired Vince Lombardi, offensive coach of the Giants, as head coach in January 1959. Philadelphia finished tied for worst in the East, at 2–9–1. Two years later, both the Eagles and Packers would play for the championship.
Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.
1958 NFL playoffs
Eastern Conference Playoff Game
NFL Championship Game
|Most Valuable Player||Jim Brown, Fullback, Cleveland|
|Coach of the Year||Weeb Eubank, Baltimore Colts|
John Constantine Unitas was an American football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 18 seasons, primarily with the Baltimore Colts. Following a career that spanned from 1956 to 1973, he has been consistently listed as one of the greatest NFL players of all time.
The All-America Football Conference (AAFC) was a professional American football league that challenged the established National Football League (NFL) from 1946 to 1949. One of the NFL's most formidable challengers, the AAFC attracted many of the nation's best players, and introduced many lasting innovations to the game. However, the AAFC was ultimately unable to sustain itself in competition with the NFL. After its folding, three of its teams were admitted to the NFL: the San Francisco 49ers, the Cleveland Browns and the original Baltimore Colts.
Raymond Emmett Berry Jr. is an American former professional football player and coach in the National Football League (NFL). He played as a split end for the Baltimore Colts from 1955 to 1967, and after several assistant coaching positions, was head coach of the New England Patriots from 1984 to 1989. With the Colts, Berry led the NFL in receptions and receiving yards three times and in receiving touchdowns twice, and was invited to six Pro Bowls. The Colts won consecutive NFL championships, including the 1958 NFL Championship Game—known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played"—in which Berry caught 12 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown. He retired as the all-time NFL leader in both receptions and receiving yardage.
Below is a list of professional football championship games in the United States, involving:
George Allen "Pat" Summerall was an American football player and television sportscaster who worked for CBS, Fox, and ESPN. In addition to football, he also announced major golf and tennis events. In total, he announced 16 Super Bowls on network television, 26 Masters Tournaments, and 21 US Opens. He also contributed to 10 Super Bowl broadcasts on CBS Radio as a pregame host or analyst.
The 1965 NFL season was the 46th regular season of the National Football League. The Green Bay Packers won the NFL title after defeating the Cleveland Browns in the championship game, the last before the Super Bowl era.
The 1950 NFL season was the 31st regular season of the National Football League. The merger with the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) expanded the league to 13 teams. Meanwhile, television brought a new era to the game. The Los Angeles Rams became the first NFL team to have all of its games – both home and away – televised. The Washington Redskins became the second team to put their games on TV. Other teams arranged to have selected games televised.
The 1959 NFL season was the 40th regular season of the National Football League.
The 1958 National Football League Championship Game was the 26th NFL championship game, played on December 28 at Yankee Stadium in New York City. It was the first NFL playoff game to be decided in sudden death overtime. The final score was Baltimore Colts 23, New York Giants 17, and the game has since become widely known as The Greatest Game Ever Played. Its legendary status in the pantheon of historic NFL games was again confirmed by a nationwide poll of 66 media members in 2019, who voted it the best game in the league's first 100 years.
The New York Giants, an American football team which currently plays in the National Football League's National Football Conference, has a history dating back more than 80 seasons. The Giants were founded in 1925 by Tim Mara in the then five-year-old NFL. Mara owned the team until his death in 1959, when it was passed on to his sons, Wellington and Jack. During their history, the Giants have won eight NFL championships, four of which came in Super Bowls.
The 1960 National Football League Championship Game was the 28th NFL title game. The game was played on Monday, December 26, at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The 1959 National Football League Championship Game was the 27th NFL championship game, played on December 27 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.
The history of the New York Giants from 1925 to 1978 covers the American football franchise from the team's inception until the conclusion of their tumultuous 1978 season. Currently members of the NFL's National Football Conference, the Giants were founded in 1925 by original owner Tim Mara in the then five-year-old NFL. Mara gave control of the team over to his two sons—Wellington and Jack—early in their lives. During this period in their history the Giants acquired four NFL championships, but also suffered some down times, including consecutive non-playoff seasons from 1964 to 1978.
The 1958 Cleveland Browns season was the team's ninth season with the National Football League. They were 9–3 in the regular season, tied for first in the Eastern Conference with the New York Giants, who won the tiebreaker playoff.
The 1959 Green Bay Packers season was their 39th season in the National Football League and 41st overall. The team finished with a 7–5 record in the 1959 season under first-year coach Vince Lombardi to earn a third-place finish in the Western Conference.
The 1958 New York Giants season was the franchise's 34th season in the National Football League.
The professional American football team now known as the Indianapolis Colts played in Baltimore, Maryland, as the Baltimore Colts from its founding in 1953 to 1984. The team was named for Baltimore's history of horse breeding and racing. It was the second incarnation of the Baltimore Colts, the first having played for three years in the All-America Football Conference and one in the National Football League (NFL). The 1953–83 Baltimore Colts team played its home games at Memorial Stadium.
The Associated Press (AP), Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), New York Daily News (NYDN), The Sporting News (SN), and United Press International (UPI) selected All-Pro teams comprising their selections of the best players at each position in the National Football League (NFL) during the 1958 NFL season.
The NFL, along with boxing and professional wrestling, was a pioneer of sports broadcasting during a time when baseball and college football were more popular than professional football. Due to the NFL understanding television at an earlier time, they were able to surpass Major League Baseball in the 1960s as the most popular sport in the United States.