57 + 57 Football – Detroit Lions Regular Season Week 6

Green Bay's new City Stadium on opening day in 1957. Photo: Packershistory.net

Green Bay’s new City Stadium (the future Lambeau Field) on opening day in 1957. Photo: Packershistory.net

Wanted: Professional field goal kicker. Strength and accuracy a must. If you can get the ball through the goal posts from over 40 yards, WE NEED YOU.

The kicking game came front and center for Detroit on Sunday, as they lost at home to the Buffalo Bills, 17-14. With four seconds left in a tie game, the Bill’s Dan Carpenter put Buffalo in the lead with a 58-yard field goal. Contrast this with the performance of the Lions’ latest recruit to the starting kicking position, Alex Henery. On Sunday, Henery missed three long field goal attempts of 44 yards, 47 yards, and then 50 yards in the final minute of the game. As Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press sports writer points out, “He is 1-for-5 in two weeks with the Lions, and the Lions are 1-for-8 on field goals of longer than 40 yards.” Birkett adds (unnecessarily?), “Coach Jim Caldwell said that kicking position will be evaluated this week.”

The kicking game wasn’t the only problem on Sunday. Injuries continue to hamper the Lions and the offense, in spite of more excellent play by quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Golden Tate, can’t seem to solidify. Stafford was 18-for-31 for 221 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Tate contributed more key catches and plays. The Lions were leading in the fourth quarter when they just plain stalled.

Enough of that? Let’s look to next week, when the Lions will go Nordic in Minneapolis. The Vikings are about to be raided. Will the mystery kicker sign in please!

Meanwhile, on Sunday, October 6, 1957, our soon-to-be champs met the Packers in Green Bay at their new City Stadium, the first gridiron built for the specific, unshared use of an NFL franchise. Just the week before, the Packers had retired their old City Stadium and moved across the street to a larger, 32,500-seat venue. Vice President Richard Nixon, reigning Miss America Marilyn Van Derbur, and other dignitaries had presided over a half-time dedication ceremony mid-way to a Green Bay victory over the Chicago Bears, 21-17.

Prior to the construction of the new stadium, the Green Bay Packers came close to becoming the Milwaukee Packers. Fellow NFL team owners objected to the small, decrepit firetrap that the Packers had been playing in since 1925. They demanded that many season games be held down the road at Milwaukee’s attractive 43,000-seat County Stadium, which had been built in 1953 to tempt the Packers southward. Loyal Green Bay Packer fans responded with financial support and built the facility which would be renamed Lambeau Field in 1965, in honor and memory of Packers founder, player, and long-time head coach, Curly Lambeau.

Renovations in 1961 would expand seating capacity to almost 39,000, which quickly became insufficient for the burgeoning Cheesehead faithful. Further expansions in 1963, 1965, 1970, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2001-03, and 2013 ultimately increased spectator spots to 80, 735, all without interrupting season play.

In this second home game, the Packers suffered their first loss in their new digs. The Lions took an early lead and never relinquished it. Two touchdowns in the first quarter (one a runback from an interception) were followed by a field goal in the second and another touchdown in the fourth before the Packers even got on the scoreboard. Last ditch efforts included a touchdown run by quarterback Bart Starr from 1 yard out, and a curious combination play by Packer running back Fred Cone who both ran the ball in from 26 yards and then kicked the point after. How many times has that happened in NFL history? If you know, leave me a comment!

Next up for the 1957 Lions, their first home game of the season against the Los Angeles Rams, helmed by Oregon alumni quarterback Norm Van Brocklin (a Duck, boo hiss!).

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