Three unlikely special teamers led Packers to key '72 win in Houston
Ron Widby. | Archive photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
HOUSTON - When you see a list of Packers legends, you won't typically find Dave Davis, Jon Staggers and Ron Widby.
Under the roof of the Houston Astrodome, they were the key components of a big win over for the 1972 Green Bay Packers over the Houston Oilers en route to an NFC Central championship.
All three aspects of the Packers produced points in the win.
The game was scoreless until the second quarter, when Staggers, a multi-faceted wide receiver, went the distance - a long distance - with a nearly roof-scraping punt.
The 60-yard punt landed in Staggers' arms, and he took the ball down a journey left past helpless Houston defenders, broke a tackle, pumped his fist at midfield and used a double team block to free him down the sidelines for an 85-yard journey to the game's first lead, 7-0.
Houston running back Paul Robinson tied the game with a 1-yard run, but the Packers' special teams touchdown production wasn't done that quarter.
Widby, the Packers' punter, was the Packers' 3rd string quarterback, but had never thrown a pass in an NFL game. One of his punt blockers, Davis, only caught 11 passes in his Packers career.
He only had one touchdown reception while wearing green and gold.
It came in this game, when Widby immediately took the snap, never acted to try and fake a punt, and corkscrewed a pass to Davis who caught it wide open 35 yards downfield.
Davis, not known for his game-breaking speed, broke two tackles as he diagonally traversed the Astroturf for a 68 yard scoring pass to give Green Bay back the lead, 14-7.
Lowly Houston stayed in the game and cut the Packers' lead on a 13-yard field goal by Skip Butler.
Then, MacArthur Lane rambled for the most critical 36 of Green Bay's 210 yards gobbled up by running backs on the Astroturf.
Lane took a handoff, got a block off right tackle, reached the Oiler defense's second level, found a hole by running the opposite direction, broke two tackles and reached the corner of the end zone to extend Green Bay's to 21-10.
Packers quarterback Scott Hunter only threw 12 passes, completing five for 41 yards.
But his counterpart for Houston, Dan Pastorini, unwillingly took part in the game's final score.
He was dropping back into his end zone late in the game when defensive tackle Bob Brown shed a block, wrapped Pastorini up in the wingspan to match his 6' 7" frame, and tackled him like a Texas rodeo competitor tackles a calf roper to extend the Packers' lead.
The Packers' 23-10 win proved to be key in winning the only NFC Central title during a 27-year stretch.