But a field goal unit is not one man, it's 11, and some of the sapped men on San Diego's field goal team were getting water and didn't hear the coach's call. They were late getting onto the field and didn't even make the huddle. "Eddie," Benirschke called to his holder, Ed Luther, "We're not set!"
"We're O.K.," Luther said. "Just kick it."
Benirschke prepared for the snap, but his rhythm was off. The ball was snapped, Luther put it down, and Benirschke hooked his kick just left of the goalpost.
Benirschke was nearly sick with regret. "I knew I'd never get a second chance," he remembers. "I thought, How long will I have to live with this?"
That miss was, strangely, a blow to both teams. The players were now on a death march. Men in both huddles leaned on one another for support. "Guys would refuse to come out of the game just so they didn't have to run all the way to the sideline," says Sievers. Whatever side of the huddle receivers happened to be on was the side they lined up on, formations be damned.
Neither offense was able to sustain a drive, and the two clubs staggered through what seemed to be a pointless, hopeless, endless dance. There was a punt, a lost San Diego fumble, two more punts. "I remember Kellen had his eyes closed in the huddle, mouth hanging open," Sievers says. "He looked like a slow-motion picture of a boxer—his mouthpiece falling out, saliva dripping from his lip."
Shula was hot that his players were helping Winslow up after a play only to see him beat them with another great catch. (He had 13 in all, for 166 yards.) "Let him get up by himself!" Shula kept yelling.
At one point in this blast furnace of noise and sweat and exhaustion, Winslow was blocking Miami corner-back Gerald Small. When the play ended, both men tried to get off the field for the punt, but they couldn't move. They just leaned on each other for a few seconds, too tired to get out of each other's way. They shoot horses, don't they? "I'd never come that close to death before," Winslow says.
Finally, nine minutes into overtime, Miami made one last Jell-O-legged breakaway. Strock hit wideout Jimmy Cefalo for a big gain, and von Schamann set up for a 34-yarder to win it. Across the field Benirschke looked like a man about to get fitted for a lifetime of goathood. He knelt on the sideline, "waiting for the inevitable," he says. "It was like watching your own execution. Only in slow motion."
"I wanted to get the kick up right away," said von Schamann later, thinking of Winslow's block earlier. He tried too hard. His shoe scuffed the painted green dirt and the ball went straight into the right arm of defensive end Leroy Jones. It was the only NFL field goal attempt Jones ever blocked.