|1963 New York Giants season|
|Head coach||Allie Sherman|
|Home field||Yankee Stadium|
|Division place||1st NFL Eastern|
|Playoff finish||Lost NFL Championship|
(at Bears) 10–14
The 1963 New York Giants season was the franchise's 39th season in the National Football League. The Giants won their third consecutive NFL Eastern Conference title with an 11–3 record, their sixth in eight years, but again lost the NFL championship game. This loss was to the Chicago Bears, 14–10 at Wrigley Field, in the Giants' final post-season appearance until 1981.
Hall of fame quarterback Y. A. Tittle produced one of the greatest passing seasons in NFL history. Tittle had had a breakout season the previous year, but according to Cold Hard Football Facts, "[h]e was even better in 1963, breaking his own record set the year before with 36 TD passes while also leading the league in completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating. Tittle's G-Men scored a league-leading 32.0 [points-per-game] and competed in a title game with the Bears, who had the league's best defense in 1963 (10.3 [points-per-game])."
A familiar figure on the offensive line, four-time Pro Bowl selection Wietecha, retired after a decade of service, and Greg Larson took over his job at center. Other new faces included third-string quarterback Glynn Griffing (who would spend just a single season in the NFL), linebacker Jerry Hillebrand, and offensive tackles Lane Howell and Lou Kirouac. Hugh McElhenny put on a Giants uniform for the first time in 1963 after 11 years as a star fullback with the San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings. McElhenny stayed with the Giants for one season, and of the 12 new players on the Giants' roster in 1963, only Hillebrand and John Lo Vetere spent more than two seasons with the team.
The Giants were facing competition as the New York Titans, the laughingstock of the American Football League, were bought in March by a group headed by Sonny Werblin, who changed the team name to the New York Jets. Though still in the archaic Polo Grounds in 1963, they moved into the new Shea Stadium in 1964 and gained quarterback Joe Namath in January 1965.
Main article: 1963 NFL draft
Main article: 1963 NFL season
For Y. A. Tittle, 1963 was his finest season. The New York offense was flooded with capable receivers. Del Shofner, Frank Gifford, Alex Webster, Joe Morrison, Joe Walton, and Thomas were joined by the newly acquired McElhenny, who had already caught many a pass from Tittle when both played for the San Francisco 49ers. Complementing the offense was Don Chandler, whose accurate place-kicking enabled him to become the league's leading scorer in 1963.
Although Tittle threw three touchdown passes for a 37–28 victory in the season opener against the Baltimore Colts, his ribs were injured in the third quarter, and he was forced to spend the rest of the game, and the entire next game as well, on the sideline. Reserve quarterbacks Gugliemi and Griffing were of little help in game 2 at Pitt Stadium, a 31–0 shutout by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tittle recovered in time for the third game of the season.
In victories over the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins, Tittle threw a total of five touchdown passes. On defense, Dick Lynch intercepted three Sonny Jurgensen passes in the defeat of the Eagles.
Since their move to Yankee Stadium in 1956, the Giants' home openers were perennially delayed by the stadium's prime tenant, the New York Yankees. The home opener in 1963 was the fifth game of the season, against the Cleveland Browns. Fullback Jim Brown and the undefeated Browns kept their perfect record intact and increased its Eastern Conference lead over the Giants to two games with a 35–24 victory.
During the next five games, Tittle shifted the Giants' offense into overdrive, averaging 39.6 points per game. Among the victories was a 33–6 defeat of the Browns in the face of 84,000 stunned Cleveland spectators. Before a frustrated Jim Brown was ejected late in the fourth quarter for fighting with a New York defender, he had been held to 40 yards rushing.
In the final nine games in the regular season, the Giants lost only once, a 24–17 to the St. Louis Cardinals at Yankee Stadium, two days after the assassination of President Kennedy. (Commissioner Pete Rozelle received broad criticism from many quarters allowing the regular schedule to proceed on that Sunday, for it had been set aside as a national day of mourning. The AFL postponed its four games.) New York closed out the season with big wins over the Dallas Cowboys, Redskins, and Steelers, and the Giants captured their third consecutive Eastern Conference crown on the final Sunday of the season to finish 11–3, a game ahead of the Browns.
Throughout the autumn of 1963, the air above Giants football games virtually hummed with forward passes. The team amassed 3,558 total passing yards, 47 shy of the Baltimore Colts, who were led by Johnny Unitas. Tittle led the NFL with 36 touchdown tosses, breaking his one-year old single-season record of 33. But New York's passing game was to be severely tested by the league's acknowledged defensive leader: the Chicago Bears.
|1||September 15||at Baltimore Colts||W 37–28||1–0||Memorial Stadium||60,029|
|2||September 22||at Pittsburgh Steelers||L 0–31||1–1||Pitt Stadium||46,068|
|3||September 29||at Philadelphia Eagles||W 37–14||2–1||Franklin Field||60,671|
|4||October 6||at Washington Redskins||W 24–14||3–1||D.C. Stadium||49,419|
|5||October 13||Cleveland Browns||L 24–35||3–2||Yankee Stadium||62,956|
|6||October 20||Dallas Cowboys||W 37–21||4–2||Yankee Stadium||62,889|
|7||October 27||at Cleveland Browns||W 33–6||5–2||Cleveland Municipal Stadium||84,213|
|8||November 3||at St. Louis Cardinals||W 38–21||6–2||Busch Stadium||29,482|
|9||November 10||Philadelphia Eagles||W 42–14||7–2||Yankee Stadium||62,936|
|10||November 17||San Francisco 49ers||W 48–14||8–2||Yankee Stadium||62,982|
|11||November 24||St. Louis Cardinals||L 17–24||8–3||Yankee Stadium||62,992|
|12||December 1||at Dallas Cowboys||W 34–27||9–3||Cotton Bowl||29,653|
|13||December 8||Washington Redskins||W 44–14||10–3||Yankee Stadium||62,992|
|14||December 15||Pittsburgh Steelers||W 33–17||11–3||Yankee Stadium||63,240|
See also: 1963 Baltimore Colts season
|NFL Eastern Conference|
|New York Giants||11||3||0||.786||9–3||448||280||W3|
|St. Louis Cardinals||9||5||0||.643||8–4||341||283||L1|
Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.
Main article: 1963 NFL Championship Game
|Championship||December 29||at Chicago Bears||L 10–14||Wrigley Field||45,801||Recap|