The Bills, who have lost four straight exhibitions, including one to the Detroit Lions, led 27-24 late in the fourth quarter when they stopped the Eagles on a fourth-and-one play at the Philadelphia 26-yard line. The Bills had been successful all night on down-and-out patterns to Art Powell, who caught 10 passes, and to Elbert Dubenion, who caught five, against a rookie corner back named Taft Reed. But for some reason Coach Joe Collier elected to control the ball and play for the field goal.
He got the field goal with slightly less than two minutes to play. "I figured maybe they might be able to get down-field again, and I wanted to take away the field goal that could tie the game," explained Collier after the game. But said Joe Kuharich, the Eagles' coach, "We don't ever play for the tie in a game like this."
The Los Angeles Rams were the NFL's biggest response to AFL claims. They massacred the San Diego Chargers. The fearsome foursome of Deacon Jones, Roosevelt Grier, Lamar Lundy and Merlin Olsen threw San Diego quarterbacks for losses continuously during the first half, while the L.A. secondary intercepted two of John Hadl's first five passes and returned them for touchdowns. The score, 50-7, could have been worse, but Ram Coach George Allen sent in his reserves.
Like the Rams' rout of the Chargers, the exhibition staged earlier in the week was never a game, not, at least, after the first quarter when the Chiefs learned how the Bears' sorrowfully impotent defense would react—or, rather, fail to react—to all the formations they execute with military precision. Most teams in professional football use only two or three formations and try to win the way the Packers do: with perfect fundamental execution. The Dallas Cowboys use a number of formations, and now even the Baltimore Colts are beginning to operate from an I formation once in a while. But the Chiefs use at least seven and as many as 12 formations in a game, giving them the most varied offense in football. "We thought we were prepared for everything they had," Richie Petitbon, the Bears' safety man, tried to explain after the game. "But there's a difference going up against them and watching them on film."
The afternoon before the game Coach Hank Stram of the Chiefs sat in his training-camp office at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo. He explained what he expected both teams would do that night.
"Remember, this is not just another exhibition," he said, "but I haven't said too much about it. They know it's the Bears they're playing. Sometimes words don't have any meaning, they're unimportant. This may be that time. We don't want to get so emotional that we won't play our game. If we do the job with the shoulder pads, all else will be taken care of."
Looking at the Chiefs' new offense on the blackboard, Stram said: "This is our new Tight-I formation, with the tight end always lined up behind the quarterback. He can go out from there and create more formations. This provides variety, and that is the personality of our club. Variety reduces the effectiveness of the other team, because they don't know what to expect. A team that plays basic formations, for instance, is somewhat easy to defense, because there are so few things to look for."
The problem of trying to contain a formation such as the Tight I is relatively simple to explain. When the Chiefs set up in the formation, the Bears, Stram pointed out, would set up in a very loose Oklahoma preshift defense. When the Chiefs' tight end moved somewhere into the line, the Bears could shift their defense to compensate. The Chiefs, however, had one simple method for dealing with this nonsense: to work on quick counts—say at hup, instead of three or four—so the defense would not have enough time to adjust correctly.
The Bears' offense, meanwhile, did not concern Stram too much. "They'll probably take the same approach Green Bay did and run the left side," Stram said, "and they'll try to set up a mismatch between Gale Sayers and a linebacker on one-and-one situations. We expect that. But to me teams that win have solid quarterbacks, and the Bears don't have that established leader."
That night it appeared for a time that aged Rudy Bukich, who started at quarterback for the Bears ( Jack Concannon, the scrambler they received in the trade with Philadelphia for Mike Ditka, had a sore arm), might be Bart Starr in disguise. He calmly moved the Bears from their own 20 to the Chiefs' 28, and then Rookie Bruce Alford kicked a field goal for a 3-0 lead.