With the NFL and AFL still awaited their official merger, the two best teams from both leagues would play in the "Second AFL-NFL World Championship Game." The Super Bowl I champion Green Bay Packers returned to the national spotlight to represent the NFL against the nearly undefeated Oakland Raiders of the AFL.
On January 14, 1968, Super Bowl II was off and running. Here's what you need to know about the second Super Bowl in NFL history.
The NFL's Green Bay Packers came off a 1967 Super Bowl victory with somewhat of a stressful regular season. Littered with star players' injuries — including previous Super Bowl MVP Bart Starr — and the loss of Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung to other teams, the Packers struggled to clinch a 9-4-1 record.
Green Bay ranked just 9th out of the 16 NFL teams in points but made up for it on the defensive line, where three players solidified a spot in the Pro Bowl. Vince Lombardi still led the charge from Wisconsin, but the 1967-68 season was presumed to be his last season coaching.
Though not the "favorites" in Super Bowl II, the AFL's Oakland Raiders entered the post-season with an impressive 13-1 record, only falling to the Jets in early October of that same year. The Raiders led both leagues in points (468) and heavily-relied on quarterback Daryle Lamonica, who amassed 3,228 yards during the regular season.
With players like tight end Billy Cannon (629 yards), Rodger Bird (612 yards in punt returns), and Dan Conners (3 interceptions), the Raiders were expected to hold their own on the gridiron.
On January 14, 1968, 75,546 football fans trickled into the Miami Orange Bowl, located in Miami, Florida, for Super Bowl II. All seats in the stadium had sold out, with fans paying an average of $12 a ticket (around $89.75 today).
After a catchy performance of the national anthem by the GSU Tiger Marching Band and a coin flip landing on tails, Super Bowl II was officially underway.
During Oakland's first possession of Super Bowl II, Green Bay linebacker Ray Nitschke obliterated Raiders fullback Hewritt Dixon, leaving many game commentators to believe that shocking hit solidified the "end of the game." After a 33-yard field goal by Don Chandler and two forced punts by Oakland, the Packers held a 3-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
The Packers began quarter two in typical Green Bay fashion. After an 84-yard drive leading to Chandler's second field goal and a 62-yard touchdown dash by Boyd Dowler, Green Bay clinched a 13-0 lead part-way through the second quarter.
The Raiders answered: Lamonica delivered a beautiful 23-yard pass to Bill Miller to get Oakland on the scoreboard, who was now trailing 13-7. After another strategic play by Starr and Dowler, Chandler once again nailed a field goal as time ran out during the first half, with the Packers up 16-7 by halftime.
As both teams returned to the locker room during halftime to talk strategy, the Grambling State University Marching Band took to the Orange Bowl field to wow the fans in attendance with an incredible halftime performance.
Meanwhile, Packers players shifted their attention toward Coach Lombardi, intending to play the final half-hour of the game for the legendary coach they assumed was retiring at the game's conclusion.
With a newfound passion on their side, the Packers left the locker room with everything they needed to clinch a back-to-back Super Bowl victory. The Packers held onto the ball for 12.5 of the 15 minutes in quarter three, scoring a sweet 2-yard touchdown with the help of Donny Anderson.
Again, kicker Chandler found himself with a field goal attempt in his hands, narrowly hitting the crossbar and making him four-for-four on the game. This field goal brought the Packers to an unrecoverable 26-7 lead that the Raiders could only dream of reaching.
With Packers' quarterback Starr out of the game early in the fourth quarter with a thumb injury, the Packers put Zeke Bratkowski in for the MVP. After a 60-yard touchdown return on an interception by Packers' defensive back Herb Adderley and a touchdown by the Raiders from Lamonica to Miller, the game came to a fizzling end.
Green Bay graciously held onto its 33-14 lead, allowing Coach Vince Lombardi to retire on a back-to-back Super Bowl victory. Lombardi ended his 9-year coaching career with the Packers with a career record of 105–35–6.
On top of a repeat victory, Starr once again claimed the title of MVP in the second-ever Super Bowl.
Despite Starr earning this career-high title, one can easily argue that Don Chandler (four-for-four on field goals and responsible for 12 of Green Bay's 33 points) was just as deserving of the MVP title.
Unlike Super Bowl I, which aired on NBC and CBS due to conflicting broadcasting rights, CBS shelled out a massive $2.5 million for sole ownership of the game. Just 51.3 million Americans tuned in to the second Super Bowl, generating a Nielsen rating of 36.8 — significantly lower than the previous year with dueling broadcasts.
Interestingly, more than three-quarters of American households lost connection during the second quarter of the championship game as a result of low signal in AT&T lines.
Similar to Super Bowl I, CBS decided to permanently delete game footage in the name of space and money. No game footage has been recovered to date, and the only media remaining of Super Bowl II is in the form of still images and highlight reels.
As the reigning Super Bowl champions with a 64% win rate on the current season, the Green Bay Packers were the favorites to clinch a back-to-back Super Bowl titles. The Packers went into their second championship game with a -13.5-point spread and an over/under of 43 points. With Green Bay winning 33-14, the repeat Super Bowl champions successfully covered the spread and anyone betting on “over” earned a little extra spending money.
After Lombardi's retirement and Green Bay's second-straight Super Bowl victory, the Packers reign in the Super Bowl and position as an NFL dynasty quickly fell. It would be nearly three decades before the Packers would hit the gridiron on the championship stage once more, with the Raiders stalling on another Super Bowl appearance until 1977.