Date:Dec. 14, 1958
Scene:Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, Week 12
Situation: Browns 10, Giants 10, 2:17 left in the fourth quarter, Giants ball on the Browns’ 42-yard line
Final score:Giants 13, Browns 10
Bottom line:Never heard of this one? Well, listen up then. It did more to change the face of pro football than any other.
The visitors were one stop away from the Eastern Division title when Giants halfback Frank Gifford caught a short pass over the middle, then took a step-and-a-half upfield. Boom! Linebacker Galen Fiss jarred the ball loose from the side, teammate Walt Michaels picked it up and headed to the goal line.
At that point, head linesman Charlie Berry frantically waved off the play.
"The ball hit [Gifford] on the chest," Berry explained his minority opinion afterward. "He never had complete control."
Yet not even some Giants players were convinced, as several members of their defensive unit were already on the field.
Gifford? When I asked him about the play years later, he feigned memory loss.
Pat Summerall booted a 49-yard field through the snowflakes on the next play, and the Giants won the winner-take-all rematch the next week.
That set the stage for the first-ever overtime NFL championship game, the so-called "Greatest Game Ever Played," one that wouldn’t have come off if not for an ill-advised whistle.