1961 American Football League Championship Game
1234 Total
HOU 0370 10
SD 0003 3
DateDecember 24, 1961
StadiumBalboa Stadium, San Diego, California
TV in the United States
AnnouncersJack Buck, George Ratterman,
and Bob Neal[1]
 San Diego is located in the United States
 San Diego
 San Diego
Location in the United States

The 1961 AFL Championship Game was a rematch of the first American Football League title game, between the Houston Oilers and the San Diego Chargers (formerly the Los Angeles Chargers). It was played on December 24 at Balboa Stadium in San Diego, California, and the Oilers were three-point favorites.[2][3][4]


The game matched the Eastern Division champion Houston Oilers (10–3–1), against the Western Division champion San Diego Chargers (12–2), two of only three AFL teams with winning records in the 1961 season. (The other was the Boston Patriots at 9–4–1).

Game summary

The 1961 AFL championship game was the sixth meeting between the two teams during the calendar year. The previous season's title game, won by Houston 24–16, had been played on January 1, 1961. The Chargers had won two exhibition contests with the Oilers in the summer, and they had split during the regular season, with the home teams winning.

The second AFL title game kicked off at 1:30 pm PST and scoring was held down by sloppy play and turnovers: Houston had seven and San Diego six. The only score of the first half came on a 46-yard George Blanda field goal, coming after a nine-yard San Diego punt.[5]

In the third quarter, the Oilers had the only sustained drive of the game, and went 80 yards. With a third-and-five at the San Diego 35, Blanda rolled to his right and found Billy Cannon open at the 17. Cannon jumped to make the catch, shrugged off a would-be tackler, and scampered into the end zone for a touchdown, his second in two straight low-scoring championship games. Blanda's extra point put Houston up 10–0. The Chargers scored early in the fourth quarter on a 12-yard field goal by George Blair, but they could not score again, and the Oilers won 10–3.[6][7]

San Diego head coach Sid Gillman was involved in a heated post-game discussion at mid-field with an official, field judge John Morrow, who was wrestled to the ground by Charger safety Bob Zeman.[5][8]

The game was not a sellout; the attendance of 29,556 was several thousand under Balboa Stadium's capacity.[5]

Houston Oilers 10, San Diego Chargers 3
1 2 34Total
Oilers 0 3 7010
Chargers 0 0 033

at Balboa Stadium, San Diego, California

Game information
  • First quarter
  • Second quarter
  • Third quarter
    • HOU – Billy Cannon 35-yard pass from Blanda (Blanda kick), HOU 10–0
  • Fourth quarter

See also


  1. ^ a b 1961 NFL-AFL Commentator Crews[dead link]
  2. ^ "Chargers challenge for AFL grid title". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. December 24, 1961. p. 2, sports.
  3. ^ "Oilers face Chargers in A.F.L. playoff". Chicago Sunday Tribune. Associated Press. December 24, 1961. p. 3, part 2.
  4. ^ "Houston wins, 10-3; keeps A.F.L. title". Chicago Daily Tribune. UPI. December 25, 1961. p. 1, part 4.
  5. ^ a b c Myers, Bob (December 25, 1961). "Oilers capture AFL crown again, whipping San Diego in 10-3 tilt". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. p. 2B.
  6. ^ "Blanda stars as Oilers win AFL title, 10-3". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. December 25, 1961. p. 1S.
  7. ^ "Blanda's arm and toe clear path as Houston takes 2d AFL crown". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. December 25, 1961. p. 14.
  8. ^ "Chargers may be fined for fight with official". Chicago Daily Tribune. UPI. December 26, 1961. p. 1, part 3.

Coordinates: 32°43′14″N 117°09′02″W / 32.7205°N 117.1505°W / 32.7205; -117.1505

Preceded byHouston Oilers1960 AFL Champions Houston OilersAmerican Football League Champions 1961 Succeeded byDallas Texans1962 AFL Champions