- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"Nothing felt right," he said. "I had almost begun to believe that I just wasn't ready for this game."
The Cardinals were lucky to be no worse than behind 10-3 at half time. In the interval between halves, Cardinal Coach Wally Lemm spent a few minutes convincing Johnson that the game plan was feasible. Then he tried to make adjustments to compensate for a new defense the Giants had shown several times in the first half.
"Our game plan was the same as it was the first game," said Sonny Randle, the fine Cardinal end who caught four of Johnson's passes, one for a touchdown. "We were going to run inside and throw to the outside. But in the first half every time I ran my pattern and looked back for the ball, Charley was on his back."
Randle glanced at Johnson in the dressing booth next to him, surrounded by a knot of reporters.
"He never lost his poise," Sonny said. "'Right now in just his second year as a starting quarterback, Charley is at least three years more mature than any other young quarterback I have ever seen. He has the confidence and the knowledge that most quarterbacks don't get until they have been in the league for five years."
Johnson demonstrated this amply in the second period. One of the reasons his passes had strayed so sadly in the first half was a tricky crosswind that did not seem to bother the old master, Tittle, but did hamper Johnson.
"It wasn't bad throwing straight down-field," Lemm explained, "but our strategy was to throw toward the sidelines, and the wind carried the ball."
Johnson got his wind gauge set right in the second half. He did not throw often, because he was still being battered by the big Giant line and linebackers, but he threw the ball six times and four times completed passes, twice for touchdowns.
The Cardinal defense, quickened by the addition of rookie Don Brumm, a large and agile defensive end, began reaching Tittle, too. And Tittle's favorite shot for picking up a first down on third and substantial yardage to go backfired. Larry Wilson, St. Louis' free safety, had almost intercepted two of Tittle's passes in the first half. He was playing with stitches in the palm of his left hand from an injury received in the game against Cleveland the week before; twice he had the ball in his hands and could not manage to hold it.