For a football game to be considered the greatest ever, it needs to have a bit of everything. There has to be drama from the get-go, the players have to put in maximum effort, and there needs to be something at stake. When the Baltimore Colts faced off against the New York Giants in 1958 nobody knew how exciting things were about to get.
The Greatest Game Ever Played
How did a muddy game between two teams in the ‘50s become known as the greatest? For a start, it was an NFL championship game, and there was a lot at stake for both sides. Both teams were coming into the game with an identical 9-3 record, and it was going to be a fiercely contested battle.
Tensions were high which caused nerves from both sides, this resulted in several sloppy plays. The sloppiness added to the excitement as the game went back and forth. Legendary Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas led his team and got his players going early on. By halftime, the Colts were up 14 to 3.
The Giants fought back over the next two quarters, and at the end of regular time, the score was tied 17-17. Now the NFL championship game was heading into overtime, becoming the first playoff game to go into sudden death.
Win at all costs
Johnny Unitas had shown pinpoint passing throughout most of the game and helped ensure his team stayed in the fight until the end. In overtime, there could only ever have been late drama. The Giants won the toss, but after three plays were forced to kick to the Colts.
13 plays later and Colts fans could sense victory, they were just one yard from the end zone! After eight minutes and 15 seconds of overtime, fullback Alan Ameche gave the Colts their sudden death victory.
Fans couldn’t get enough
The game sparked a massive interest in football and is considered to be the reason why it became America’s favorite sport. Getting football on TV was important, and in 1958, millions of viewers got to see an epic battle on the field. The exciting conclusion brought 45 million eyes to the sport. One year later Lamar Hunt formed the American Football League, and the sport just took off after that.
Setting a record
The Baltimore receiver, Raymond Berry, took 12 receptions in this game, which set a championship record that stood for over half a century. With 64,000 in the stands, and millions watching at home, football found itself in the headlines. People couldn’t get enough. It helped create a surge in interest, and if it weren’t for this game, football might never have become as popular as it is now.
By today’s standards, the football might not be at the same level, but the game goes down in history as the greatest for what it meant to the sport. Football players and fans have the stars who left everything out on the field that day for the game to become what we know and love today.