The Eagles scored two touchdowns within 80 seconds just before the half to take a 17-13 lead, and they went on to win easily 34-19, with such rookies as Dan Berry and the two Harrys—Wilson and Jones—playing as though they were back at California and Nebraska and Arkansas.
It was obvious that the Eagles, who went to the NFL's Playoff Bowl last year, were superior in almost every phase of the game to the Jets, who went no place in the AFL after a good start. The pattern has been duplicated in most of the other interleague games that have been played so far, although the Denver Broncos, who have been the worst team in the AFL practically every year since its inception, have defeated both the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings.
The Eagles had the better players in the Jet game—and more of them. For instance, three regulars in the Eagles' defensive backfield missed the Jet game because of their military commitments. Nevertheless, their replacements, two rookies and a taxi-squad graduate named Bobby Shann, proved practically impenetrable against passes all night. And the Eagles did not seem to miss either Ditka or Brown, while the Jets did miss Sample and Gordon, their good defensive corner backs, and Namath.
The Eagle offensive line protected Quarterback Norman Snead so well that he rarely was even touched by the Jet defense. The Jet offensive line, trying to protect its quarterbacks, had little more luck than Brink's guards have had lately with money. Four times in the first half Shann got to the passer on a safety blitz—completely untouched by any New York blockers.
Perhaps the major difference between the two teams, and indeed the two leagues, is defense. "When I think about defense," said Ewbank, who coached Baltimore to NFL championships in 1958 and 1959, "I try to compare someone with Gino Marchetti, who played end for the Colts and always was double-teamed. I look around here and see that I don't have a Marchetti, but what can I do about it? Nothing. Just wait for one."
Sitting around the pool at his motel in suburban Cincinnati the night before the game, Philadelphia's Joe Kuharich revealed exactly how he planned to riddle and baffle the Jet defense.
"Their secondary basically is one that is set up to stop passing," said Kuharich. "So we're going to use some formations that will force them into a new defense and force their secondary to tackle the ballcarriers. One will be a closed double-wing, something the Jets probably caught onto in our films of last week's game against the Vikings. We pull in our two spread backs and put them right behind the ends, who are tight to the tackles. Now we can hit either one with a quick pitch, or work a power reverse or send the setback out behind them. And we can pass deep, too."
The Jets had picked up the formation all right, and they supposedly were prepared to defend against it. "We knew what they were going to do," said Ewbank after the game, "and we kept yelling out there at our guys, but I don't know what happened."
What did happen was that every time the Eagles went into the closed double spread, with Wilson and Jones behind the ends, they picked up seven or more yards at a crack. "Their secondary never knew how to handle it," said Kuharich.
And while the Jets never did blitz, the Eagles continually harassed the Jets with Shann's safety blitz and a six-man line—two linebackers moving up. Namath, who likes to work with his tight end, Pete Lammons, over the middle, completed only three of 10 passes—two of them to Fullback Matt Snell on flares.