For two quarters it seemed that the Kansas City Chiefs might turn the Super Bowl into a Super Upset. The AFL champions, 7-year-old babes in the jungle of professional football, had played the merciless machine that is Vince Lombardi's NFL champion Green Bay Packers to a virtual standstill, blunting the famed running attack, harassing the game's best passer, moving the ball down the field to trail only 14-10. Then the superdream came to a nightmarish end. The Packers stormed out of the weeds, where they had been lurking for a half, and suddenly the first game between the two long-feuding leagues became a rout.
The Packers struck savagely and often at the Chiefs' weak spots, and when it was all over they had demonstrated to their own satisfaction—and to the AFL—that they are indeed the finest football team in creation. The score was 35-10, and even Lombardi, the game ball clutched to his breast like a No. 1 draft choice, permitted himself a smile.
The game began slowly. Curious about the Chiefs' capabilities, Green Bay's Bart Starr probed cautiously at first. He had expected to exploit anticipated deficiencies in the Kansas City defense at corner back, but he waited for a while before he began throwing passes to Carroll Dale, Marv Fleming and to the surprising hero of the game, Max McGee (see cover). McGee caught the first touchdown pass on a pattern that worked well all during the warm, windless afternoon in the Los Angeles Coliseum. He ran an inside move on Corner Back Willie Mitchell, who dived frantically in an effort to knock the ball away. McGee reached back with one hand, snapped the ball to his chest and went in for a 37-yard touchdown. Although it would take the Packers more than a half to establish their superiority, that one play confirmed Kansas City's fatal weakness at the corners.
The touchdown came eight minutes and 56 seconds into the first quarter, on the second series of offensive plays run by Green Bay, and at the time it did not create noticeable consternation among the Chiefs. Indeed, running and passing surprisingly well against the still-adjusting Green Bay defense, Kansas City tied the score quickly. Quarterback Len Dawson completed several passes to Mike Garrett, the stumpy rookie halfback who proved to be just as good as the Packers had feared, to Chris Burford, the veteran end, and to Otis Taylor, who had been compared favorably by AFL adherents to Dallas' Bob Hayes.
Scrambling constantly, Dawson threw out of Coach Hank Stram's floating pocket and, for the first half, he threw very well. When he got Kansas City its first touchdown with a pass to Curtis McClinton, the surprisingly small crowd of 63,036, most of whom seemed to be pulling for the Chiefs, cheered the seven-yard play with slightly unbelieving exuberance.
But early in the second quarter Starr had pretty well decided what he could do to Kansas City, and it was quite a lot. He took 13 plays to travel 73 yards for Green Bay's second touchdown, and it was during this march that the hopes of the Chiefs must have begun to die.
Early in the drive, Starr suckered the Chief defense with a tactic that he has often used against NFL opponents. The running of Jim Taylor and Elijah Pitts had left the Packers with third down and a yard to go on their own 36-yard line. Many times Starr has faked Taylor into the line and thrown long under these circumstances, and now he did it again. As Taylor made his fake, Fred Williamson, the Kansas City corner back who calls himself The Hammer, came up hard—too hard. Dale went by him wide open and caught Starr's long pass 20 yards in the clear for a touchdown. A penalty called the play back, but it had been clearly established that the Green Bay spread ends and flankers were going to have a productive day.
Starr underlined that fact on the next play by passing to McGee for 10 yards and a first down and, thereafter, he repeatedly jolted the Chiefs with his third-down calls. Later, on third and 10 from the Green Bay 42, he passed to Dale for 15 yards. On third and five from the Kansas City 38 he passed to Fleming for 11 yards. On third and seven from the Kansas City 24 he passed to Pitts for 10 yards and a first down on the Chiefs' 14-yard line.
The second Green Bay touchdown covered those 14 yards on a play that the Packers have all but abandoned against NFL opponents because it has become so familiar. It was the venerable Green Bay power sweep to the left, with Taylor carrying the ball behind the meticulous blocking of Tackle Bob Skoronski, who hooked in the Chief end, and Guards Fuzzy Thurston and Jerry Kramer, who mopped up what was left.
After that the Chiefs drove down to the Green Bay 24 on Dawson's passes out of his moving pocket, and Mike Mercer, who had come to the Coliseum all alone Saturday to practice placekicking, booted a 31-yard field goal. That was to be almost the last sign of any offensive activity by the Chiefs; the half ended 54 seconds later, and in the second half Green Bay, exploratory preliminaries completed, took over the ball game.