"You read the defense and you take what's there," Unitas said dourly. "Willie was hot and Martin couldn't cover him, so when I got single coverage on Willie I threw to him. He made some great catches, too."
Richardson was not free that often. Like most wide receivers, he was double-teamed much of the time. Most defenses in pro football, if no blitz is called, have seven defenders to cover three or sometimes four receivers, so the wide men consistently find themselves the object of the attentions of two men. On one of Richardson's touchdown catches, with the Colts on the Eagle 10-yard line, he had two Eagle defenders bracketing him just across the line of scrimmage. As he started on his pattern, both of them bumped him, but he skittered quickly to his right toward the sideline, and Unitas' perfectly thrown pass found him just before he went out of bounds. It was a play reminiscent of the old Unitas-to-Berry sideline pass.
Unitas, of course, calls the game himself, which is one of the reasons Weeb Ewbank, now coach of the New York Jets, parted company with the Colts. In his last year at Baltimore, Ewbank had insisted on sending plays in to Unitas. At midseason Owner Carroll Rosenbloom told Unitas to call his own game. Shula replaced Ewbank the next year and Unitas has called his own game since.
Against the Eagles he picked his plays with his usual cool precision and almost instant recognition of defenses. Although Unitas is 34, he is not reluctant to take chances; he runs the ball when he has to and runs with vigor and a modicum of style. Once, in the first period when the Colts had a third and six on their own 27 and had not been moving the ball well, he squirmed away from the Eagle pressure and tightroped the sideline. When he had made the six yards he needed for the first down, he delicately stepped out of bounds.
Late in the second period, with less than two minutes to go in the half and Unitas shepherding the Colts on a drive in which seconds were meaningful, he again found his receivers covered and again ran. He headed toward the sideline, looking downfield as he ran, and waved to Berry to go deeper behind Jim Nettles. Berry broke deep but by then the defense closed in and Unitas did not have time to throw. He dived for the sideline, wriggling desperately in the grasp of a tackier, trying to get out of bounds, but the official ruled that he had not made it. Reluctantly Unitas took a time-out. He wound up that drive 39 seconds before the clock ran out with a touchdown pass to Richardson, putting the Colts ahead 14-6.
In the second half Unitas was in complete command. The Colt running game had not been successful going wide earlier, so he sent Tony Lorick, Tom Matte and Jerry Hill inside for key gains. He called patterns isolating linebackers on Matte, his halfback, when the Eagles became overly aware of Richardson, and Matte, as effective a receiver as he was a passer in an emergency two years ago when he had to quarterback the Colts, took the ball for good gains.
Before the game, in the Eagle dressing room, Coach Joe Kuharich, who has traded the Eagles into respectability and done a good job of reconstructing the team, said, "If Unitas is right, there isn't much you can do. I don't think the loss of Orr will hurt them much, either. Richardson has always had good days against us."
He was right on both counts.