“The Greatest Game Ever Played” is, well, exactly that.
The Baltimore Colts’ 23-17 victory over the New York Giants for the 1958 NFL championship, the first overtime game in league history, was voted the best game as part of the NFL’s celebration of its 100th season. A nationwide panel of 66 media members chose the classic over the 1981 NFC title match featuring the Joe Montana pass to Dwight Clark known as “The Catch,” and the “Ice Bowl” in Green Bay for the 1967 league title.
Baltimore’s win on Alan “The Horse” Ameche’s 1-yard touchdown run served as a catalyst for NFL popularity. The sport generally ranked behind baseball, boxing and college football back then, with even horse racing getting as much attention. But America was entranced by the drama and the stars such as John Unitas, Frank Gifford, Sam Huff, and Gino Marchetti — who broke his leg early in the game.
There was some confusion among fans at Yankee Stadium and those watching on TV — yes, even among some players — what would happen after Steve Myhra’s 20-yard field goal tied it. No postseason game had ever been tied after regulation.
New York won the coin toss for overtime, couldn’t move the ball, and Unitas guided the Colts 80 yards on 13 plays to Ameche’s conclusion to the NFL’s greatest game.
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