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 winning team was the Boston Patriots (9-4-1).
The 1961 American Football LeagueChampionship Game was the sixth game that the two teams had played during the calendar year 1961. The 1960 AFL Championship game, won by Houston 24-16, had actually been played in January 1961, on New Year's Day. The Chargers had won two exhibition contests with the Oilers, and the two teams had split during the 1961 regular season.
Scoring in the second AFL Championship Game 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. 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.