Allie Sherman's answer to Brown's deadly running became obvious on Cleveland's third series. The Giant linebackers, playing up very close, smothered the big fullback for three-, five-and one-yard gains and the Browns were forced to punt.
On their fourth series Ryan shifted to the air but, under grievous stress from the Giant line, never had time to find his receivers. The Browns were finished. The Giants, playing errorless defensive football, had completely shut off the most effective attack in football. Their own offense, predicated on the short gain and ball control, worked very well.
"We threw out the bomb," Sherman said. "We never went for the long one. We wanted to control the ball. Short passes and running. That's what we planned and that's what we did. We showed how the Browns can be beaten."
So effective was the Giant strategy of short gains and ball control that New York had possession of the ball more than twice as much as did Cleveland—78 plays against 38. The Giants gained a total of 387 yards and Tittle completed 21 of 31 passes. But most typical of all the Giants on this day was their best ballcarrier of the afternoon, elderly Hugh McElhenny. The night before the game McElhenny, who has all the elusiveness of a waterbug but who has lost some of his speed, was morose.
"I'm not playing enough," he told a friend. "I'm not criticizing Sherman. He has done a wonderful job and I can understand it, but I wish I could get in more. I still think I can run if I get the chance."
He ran magnificently against the Browns, looking now and then as good as he ever has. He scored one of the Giant touchdowns on a six-yard pass from Tittle; en route, he left two Brown defenders hanging in midair.
Despite their victory, the Giants are still a game behind the Browns. More to the point, they must depend on someone else to beat Cleveland in the weeks to come, since the two teams do not play again. And although Sherman has pointed out that the Giants have now established a pattern for beating the Browns, whether any other team in the league is capable of following this pattern as closely as the Giants did on Sunday seems doubtful.
In any case, the Browns probably will never again play a team that can execute a game plan—offense and defense—as flawlessly as did the Giants on this particular afternoon.