Green Bay Packers Eye Historic Winning Streak

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Oct 13, 2011



By Scott Kacsmar
Acme Packing Co. statistical historian


A look at the schedule for Week 6 may cause one to glance right over the matchup of the St. Louis Rams (0-4) at the Green Bay Packers (5-0). We wouldn’t blame you, seeing as how the Packers (winners of 11 straight) are on a roll while the winless Rams boast the league’s worst scoring offense (11.5 PPG) and second-worst scoring defense (28.2 PPG).
 
But as the Giants proved last week, the concept of a “sure thing” in the NFL is frivolous. Things may be even more unpredictable when you introduce the concept of making history, as this game does feature some historic consequences should the Packers do what we expect.
 
You may recall the 2010 Packers became the first team in the Super Bowl era to go through an entire season (including playoffs) without trailing by more than seven points. That streak came to an end in Carolina this season, but the Packers are on track for another record streak.
 
History Watch: The Packers will attempt to become the second team in the NFL’s 92-year history to win 12 straight games without trailing in the fourth quarter. The 1942-43 Washington Redskins hold the record with 13 straight wins.
 
We hinted at the historic streak in Captain Comeback earlier this week. Now we have all the gory details and context to definitively state the facts. For a team that’s struggled to win the close games, there’s no better fix than to simply avoid those situations.
 
Most Consecutive Wins Without Trailing in the Fourth Quarter, All-Time
Team Season(s) Winning Streak Games Tied in 4Q Championship?
Washington Redskins 1942-43 13 1 Yes
Green Bay Packers 2010-11 11 1 Yes
Indianapolis Colts 2005 11 0 No
Pittsburgh Steelers 1975 11 2 Yes
Dallas Cowboys 1971-72 11 1 Yes
Houston Oilers 1961-62 11 0 Yes
Green Bay Packers 1928-29 11 2 Yes
New York Giants 1927-28 11 0 Yes
Frankford Yellow Jackets 1924-25 11 0 No
Baltimore Ravens 2000-01 10 1 Yes
Dallas Cowboys 1993-94 10 1 Yes
Pittsburgh Steelers 1976 10 0 No
Miami Dolphins 1973 10 0 Yes
Baltimore Colts 1968 10 1 No
Chicago Bears 1942 10 0 No
Detroit Lions 1934 10 0 No
 
Those are the only 16 teams that have been able to win at least 10 consecutive games without trailing in the fourth quarter. Only half are from the post-merger era. When you see the Frankford Yellow Jackets on a list, you know you’re looking at something that’s all-encompassing. 
 
Nine of the teams carried their streak over two seasons. The last column shows whether or not the team was able to win that season’s championship (10/16 teams did). It does not mean the streak included the championship game. For example, the 1975 Steelers won 11 straight games, lost the regular season finale, then went on to win Super Bowl X.
 
“Games Tied in 4Q” are the number of games during the streak in which the game was tied in the fourth quarter. That rarely happened. The Packers were briefly tied 3-3 against Chicago in Week 17 last year, before scoring the winning touchdown with 12:42 left in the fourth quarter for their playoff-clinching 10-3 victory.
 
This table shows the longest winning streak without trailing in the fourth quarter for each of the 32 active franchises. Seasons in parenthesis indicate years where the team tied their franchise-best streak.


Franchise-Best Win Streaks Without Trailing in Fourth Quarter
Team Season(s) Winning Streak Games Tied in 4Q Championship?
Washington Redskins 1942-43 13 1 Yes
Green Bay Packers 2010-11 (1928-29) 11 1 Yes
Pittsburgh Steelers 1975 11 2 Yes
Indianapolis Colts 2005 11 0 No
Dallas Cowboys 1971-72 11 1 Yes
New York Giants 1927-28 11 0 Yes
Tennessee Titans 1961-62 11 0 Yes
Miami Dolphins 1973 10 0 Yes
Baltimore Ravens 2000-01 10 1 Yes
Chicago Bears 1942 10 0 No
Detroit Lions 1934 10 0 No
San Francisco 49ers 1984 9 0 Yes
Minnesota Vikings 1973 (1998) 9 0 No
Denver Broncos 1997-98 9 1 Yes
San Diego Chargers 1961 9 0 No
Arizona Cardinals 1948 9 0 No
Philadelphia Eagles 1949 9 0 Yes
New England Patriots 2007 8 0 No
Cleveland Browns 1954 (1968) 8 0 Yes
Carolina Panthers 1996 8 0 No
Cincinnati Bengals 1970 7 0 No
Jacksonville Jaguars 1999 7 0 No
Seattle Seahawks 1984 7 1 No
Oakland Raiders 1967 7 0 No
Buffalo Bills 1964-65 7 0 Yes
St. Louis Rams 1952 (1969, 1975) 7 0 No
New Orleans Saints 1988 7 1 No
New York Jets 1986 6 0 No
Atlanta Falcons 2003-04 6 1 No
Kansas City Chiefs 1968 (1995, 1997) 5 0 No
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2002 (2002-03) 5 0 Yes
Houston Texans 2009 (2010-11) 3 1 No
 

Record-Setting 1942-43 Redskins

Washington’s historic winning streak actually began with a fourth quarter comeback win over the Eagles on 10/4/1942. It was the following week, October 11 against the Cleveland Rams when the 13-game winning streak without trailing in the fourth quarter began.
 
The Redskins ended the 1942 season with a 14-6 win over the undefeated Bears in the NFL Championship game. They won their first four games in 1943, with Sammy Baugh throwing six touchdown passes in the last win. The win streak came to an end the following week after a 14-14 tie with the Steagles.
 
While the Redskins hold the NFL record (for now), there was a professional football team a few years later with a longer streak.

Back When Cleveland Rocked

While not officially recognized by the NFL record books, the Cleveland Browns had an incredible streak of dominance in the AAFC prior to their merger with the league.
 
From 1947 to 1949, the Browns went 29 consecutive games without defeat (27-0-2 record). That streak included two AAFC championship wins. After coming back to force a tie in a 1947 game, the Browns won their last three games of the season, followed by a 15-0 record in 1948, making Cleveland the first professional football team to have a perfect season.
 
That also marks an 18-game winning streak without trailing in the fourth quarter, which is five games better than the Redskins’ streak. The Browns only had one game during the streak where they were tied in the fourth quarter.
 
They began the 1949 season with a game against Buffalo in which they trailed 28-7 after the third quarter. They would force a tie with a fourth quarter rally, ending their record 18-game streaks of winning and not trailing in the fourth quarter.
 
That was the AAFC. What about the NFL record for consecutive games without trailing in the fourth quarter?

Most Consecutive Games without Trailing in the Fourth Quarter

The Canton Bulldogs hold the NFL record for most consecutive games (25) without a defeat, going 22-0-3 from 1921 to 1923. After winning their season finale in 1921 and then the season opener in 1922, the Bulldogs played to a 0-0 tie with the pesky Dayton Triangles. After three more wins and another scoreless tie (this time it was the Toledo Maroons), the Bulldogs embarked on the first dominant win streak in NFL history.
 
Thanks to linescores provided by Ken Crippen from the Professional Football Researchers Association, we were able to analyze these streaks.
 
The Bulldogs went on to win their next 12 games, before a 3-3 tie in 1923, and then winning the last five games of the season. The Bulldogs were sold and renamed the Cleveland Bulldogs, and did not participate in the league in 1924, ending their record 25-game streak of not losing a game.
 
Focusing on the 12 straight wins during the streak, the Bulldogs actually needed three fourth quarter comebacks to keep the streak alive. They did that, meaning they never won more than seven straight games without trailing in the fourth quarter. This also means the Bulldogs never played more than nine straight games without trailing in the fourth quarter, win or tie.
 
The team with the second longest streak of undefeated games (24) is the 1941-43 Chicago Bears (23-0-1 record). The difference between Chicago and the Bulldogs is the NFL now had postseason games, which this 24 game streak does not recognize. The Bears won the NFL championship in 1941, but lost the 1942 championship to those record-setting Redskins.
 
The result is that when you factor in the postseason and the two fourth quarter comebacks Sid Luckman led (one on the day of the Pearl Harbor attack, then in the 1942 season opener against, you got it, Green Bay), the Bears never won or played in more than 10 straight games without trailing in the fourth quarter,
 
That leaves one team, which just so happens to be the Green Bay Packers.
 
Owners of the third longest undefeated streak, the 1928-30 Packers went 23 straight games without trailing in the fourth quarter, posting a 21-0-2 record. That’s your NFL record for most consecutive games played without trailing in the fourth quarter, and it belongs to the (old school) Packers.
 

Packers’ Upcoming Path

Today’s Packers have a few different streaks they could reach if they keep winning in their style.
 
The remaining 2011 schedule:
Week 6 – St. Louis
Week 7 – at Minnesota (can tie 1942-43 Redskins)
Week 8 – BYE
Week 9 – at San Diego (can set record for longest winning streak without trailing in 4th QT)
Week 10 – Minnesota
Week 11 – Tampa Bay
Week 12 – at Detroit
Week 13 – at New York Giants
Week 14 – Oakland
Week 15 – at Kansas City
Week 16 – Chicago (can tie 2003-04 Patriots for longest overall win streak; 21 games)
Week 17 – Detroit (can set NFL record for longest overall win streak)
 
It’s a long season with twists and turns, but this is hardly the most daunting path a team’s ever had to face. Keeping it one game at a time, the Rams should not present much of a challenge.
 
The Rams have not had a fourth quarter comeback win in their last 47 games. It’s the second longest streak in team history.


Rams - Longest Streaks Without 4th Quarter Comeback Win
Seasons Games Record
1985-1989 56 31-25
2008-2011 47 9-38
1971-1974 44 27-16-1
1989-1992 42 11-31
1939-1944 41 15-24-2
 
Of course the Rams recently do not have many wins of any sort, going 9-38 in the span. Being close enough to the opponent to even have an opportunity to come back has been an issue. Speaking of issues, with injuries all over the secondary to the Rams, on paper the matchup appears to be one Green Bay should have decided at halftime.
 
Yet, you never know what to expect when history’s involved. Green Bay’s been on an amazing run, and maybe this is the week it comes to end (especially since we’re putting this jinx out). The Rams did have a bye week to prepare better for the opponent. Coach Steve Spagnuolo did devise a scheme to upset the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, however there’s no Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck or Osi Umenyiora lining up for the Rams on Sunday.
 
We’ll leave you with a look at Green Bay’s winning streak, including the score margin after three quarters and the closest each team came to them on the scoreboard during the fourth quarter.

2010-11 Packers' Winning Streak
Game Opponent Lead After 3 Closest 4th QT Margin Final
1 NY Giants 14 14 45-17
2 Chicago 0 0 10-3
3 at Philadelphia 11 5 21-16
4 at Atlanta 28 21 48-21
5 at Chicago 14 7 21-14
6 Pittsburgh 4 3 31-25
7 New Orleans 8 8 42-34
8 at Carolina 10 7 30-23
9 at Chicago 10 10 27-17
10 Denver 25 25 49-23
11 at Atlanta 1 1 25-14
 
If everything goes according to plan, chalk up a dozen for the Packers, and a step closer to another record for Titletown.
 
Scott Kacsmar is a football researcher/writer who has contributed large quantities of data to Pro-Football-Reference.com, including the only standardized database of fourth quarter comebacks and game-winning drives. He’s glad to write about something besides the Tony Romo saga for a change. You can send any questions or comments to Scott at smk_42@yahoo.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @CaptainComeback.

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