1938 NFL Championship Game

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1938 NFL Championship Game
1234 Total
GB 01430 17
NYG 9770 23
DateDecember 11, 1938
StadiumPolo Grounds, New York City
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Polo  Grounds is located in the United States
Polo  Grounds
Location in the United States

The 1938 NFL Championship Game was the sixth championship game played in the National Football League (NFL). It was played on December 11 at the Polo Grounds in New York City,[1] with an attendance of 48,120, a record crowd for a title game.[2][3][4]

The game matched the New York Giants (8–2–1), champions of the Eastern Division, against the Western Division champion Green Bay Packers (8–3–0).[5][6] The Giants had won the regular season game with Green Bay 15–3 at the Polo Grounds three weeks earlier on November 20,[7] but Green Bay was without hall of fame end Don Hutson; there was no clear favorite for the title game.[6][8][9]

This was the Giants' fourth championship game appearance, their previous victory was in the famous "Sneakers game" of 1934 and they were runners-up in 1933 and 1935. It was the Packers' second trip, winning in 1936. New York also won the 1927 NFL title when the championship was awarded to the team with the best season record. Green Bay had similarly won three straight league titles in 1929, 1930, and 1931.

At halftime, Packers head coach Curly Lambeau accidentally made a wrong turn going to the team's locker room and walked out of the Polo Grounds, locking himself out. Hurrying to the front gate, Lambeau tried to get back into the Grounds, but the guards at the gate believed Lambeau was a random fan and refused him entry. As Lambeau loudly protested, a couple of sportswriters inside heard the commotion, and identified Lambeau: the guards allowed him back in, by which time halftime was nearly over.

After trailing by two points at halftime, Green Bay took the lead in the third quarter with a short field goal,[4] but New York responded with a touchdown and held on through a scoreless fourth quarter to win, 23–17.[10][11]

With the victory, the Giants became the first team to win two Championship Games since the league was split into two divisions in 1933. The two teams met again in the Championship Game the following year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with the Packers winning 27-0.

The Giants' next title was in 1956, and was won at Yankee Stadium.

Scoring summary[]

Sunday, December 11, 1938
Kickoff: 2 p.m. EST

  • First quarter
  • Second quarter
  • Third quarter
    • GB – FG Engebretsen 15, 17–16 GB
    • NYG – Hank Soar 23 pass from Danowski (Cuff kick), 23–17 NYG
  • Fourth quarter
    • no scoring


  • Referee: Bobby Cahn
  • Umpire: Tom Thorp
  • Head Linesman: Larry Conover
  • Field Judge: L.C. Meyer [1][2]

The NFL had only four game officials in 1938; the back judge was added in 1947, the line judge in 1965, and the side judge in 1978.

Players' shares[]

The victory earned each winning Giant player $504 and each Packer $368.[11]


  1. ^ a b Strickler, George (December 11, 1938). "Packers clash with Giants today for pro title". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, part 2.
  2. ^ a b Strickler, George (December 12, 1938). "Giants take pro title; beat Packers, 23-17". Chicago Tribune. p. 21.
  3. ^ "Grid Giants 'cuff' Packers to win professional title". Pittsburgh Press. United Press. December 12, 1938. p. 26.
  4. ^ a b "Giants capture league crown". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. December 12, 1938. p. 10.
  5. ^ "Lions upset by Eagles; Packers win title". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. December 5, 1938. p. 11.
  6. ^ a b Burton, Lewis (December 11, 1938). "Packers, Giants meet for title". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1B.
  7. ^ Schumacher, Garry (November 21, 1938). "Leemans starts in Giants' 15-3 win over Bays". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 13.
  8. ^ Ferguson, Harry (December 11, 1938). "Giants-Green Bay clash for pro grid championship today". Pittsburgh Press. United Press. p. 3, sports.
  9. ^ Gannon, Pat (December 11, 1938). "Record crowd of 62,000 to see pro play-off". Milwaukee Journal. p. 1, sports.
  10. ^ Burton, Lewis (December 12, 1938). "Giants defeat Packers, 23-17 for pro title". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 13.
  11. ^ a b Gannon, Pat (December 12, 1938). "Giants' early attack defeats Green Bay for title, 23 to 17". Milwaukee Journal. p. 4, part 2.

Coordinates: 40°49′52″N 73°56′13″W / 40.831°N 73.937°W / 40.831; -73.937

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