Huarte concluded his first of two 80-yard scoring drives by somehow finding Mercein, hiding among a cluster of Browns in the end zone, and drilling the ball so firmly into his chest that even a Vale man couldn't drop it. His touchdown pass to Rentzel was also for only five yards, but it, too, was a gem. Lance had broken his pattern to get free, yet Huarte saw his move, darted around and whipped the ball to him.
"I don't know," said Dick Gallagher, the general manager of the Buffalo Bills and former assistant coach for the Cleveland Browns. "No one thinks the guy can throw good enough, but he reminds me of a young Bobby Layne. Not pretty, but accurate—and a leader."
Lance Rentzel talked about that leader business.
"He has that indefinable quality called leadership," said the flanker who demonstrated that the Minnesota Vikings may have a pretty good find of their own. "John comes in the game knowing he's going to do well, and he does it. He makes you feel it, too."
The question to Otto Graham, of course, was how all this could be possible and the All-Star coach not know it after three weeks of preparations.
"All I can say is that John's a game player," Graham said. "His practices just weren't impressive. I judged Staubach's ability as ranging from exceptional to fantastic. And Morton looked tremendous throwing the ball. We went first with Roger because he could scramble, and we hoped he might wear down some of those big Brown linemen. Johnny simply wasn't as good in our workouts. I really rated him No. 4, even behind Bob Timberlake."
Many of the players themselves were talking about how disappointing Huarte had looked before the game. Among them, the worst prophet was Rice Linebacker Russell Wayt, who said, "Johnny's a heck of a nice guy, but he's just not a passer."
Huarte's sidearm delivery and lack of concern for the perfect spiral combine to make him look like something less than the cover photo thrower.
"But you can't argue with accuracy," said Graham. "And I wouldn't change him now—never. Let him throw that way."
All Huarte knew is that he was capable of moving the team, and he was not the least surprised at what he did. "It's a good question why I don't do better in workouts. Coach Graham was right. Roger certainly deserved to start. But I knew that if I got in the game, I'd do well. I just felt it," he said.