SI Vault
Tex Maule
October 23, 1967
There was little to choose between the Colts and the Rams as they traded scores in the first big interdivisional game of the year, but Baltimore—even minus seven starters—was a little bit more equal
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
October 23, 1967

A Pair Fit To Be Tied

There was little to choose between the Colts and the Rams as they traded scores in the first big interdivisional game of the year, but Baltimore—even minus seven starters—was a little bit more equal

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3

In an effort to get pressure on Unitas from the inside, Lamar Lundy, the big Ram right end, would often loop to the inside. The Colts sent their backs—Tony Lorick, Lenny Moore or Tom Matte, for the most part—wide outside Lundy, and in that second offensive series Matte, behind a good block by the tackle on Lundy and another good block by Fullback Jerry Hill, went for seven yards on the sweep. Hill smashed to the right side of the Ram defense for 10 more yards and Unitas hit Matte with a quick swing pass, again around the right side, for nine more. Eventually the drive died on the Ram 14, although the Colts might well have had a touchdown. With fourth down and one, Unitas sent Hill into the Ram line on a fake and threw to Ray Perkins, playing for the injured Berry. Perkins was yards free of any defender on the Ram goal line, but he dropped the ball. It was a frustrating culmination to a good drive, but it confirmed the Colt strategy, and when Unitas left the field he was reasonably sure of what he would be able to do in ensuing offensive thrusts.

Bald Bobby Boyd, who is one of the league's premier corner backs, put matters in train again for Unitas halfway through the second period when he made a leaping interception of a Gabriel pass on the Baltimore 28 and returned the ball to the Colt 41.

Unitas threw few long passes during the game, since the Colts were aware that the Ram defensive line seldom gives a receiver enough time to clear on a long pass. But after the interception he switched his strategy. With the Baltimore offensive line performing nobly, he had time to throw and found Alex Hawkins on the first play from scrimmage with a 22-yard pass. Unitas tried twice at the left side of the Ram line, and the element of surprise was good enough to get 14 yards. He then went back to the sure gain outside the Ram right end, with Lenny Moore going nine yards to the Ram 14.

"That's our 34 or 35 special," a Colt offensive lineman said later. "The tackle [Bob Vogel] hooks Lundy in, and the fullback blocks the linebacker. We had real good luck with it most of the time."

They had real good luck with it once more in this drive when Moore, from the Ram three, wheeled wide to his left, skipped away from an attempted tackle and went into the end zone to put the Colts ahead 10-7.

The Colt touchdowns came hard. The Rams either scored easily or they did not move the ball at all. As the third quarter opened, Gabriel hoisted another long, towering pass to Jack Snow. Well covered by Boyd, Snow tipped the ball into the air, juggled it momentarily, then secured it and outran everybody for an 80-yard touchdown.

Johnny U. lost little time in putting the Colts back ahead. He had had good success throwing to his halfbacks on patterns that allowed him to release the ball quickly, ahead of the Ram rush, and now he sent Matte on a deeper pattern. Matte broke free, caught the ball at the Ram 28 and shook himself loose from the Ram linebacker who was covering him. He reached the Ram 15 before he was brought down. Unitas got the touchdown with a 14-yard pass to Hawkins, who played a truly remarkable game.

Hawkins had only been back with the Colts for a week. He went to Atlanta in 1966 in the expansion draft and was put on waivers this year after what was essentially a personality conflict with Atlanta Coach Norb Hecker. Before he had gone to Atlanta, Hawkins had been the captain of the Baltimore special teams, for which he had created exceptional esprit de corps. Sunday he played on all the Baltimore special teams and doubled in brass as a spread end after Perkins pulled a muscle. He caught three passes for 50 yards and the Colts' second touchdown, and on one punt he made a beautiful, swooping tackle, denying the Rams what could have been a long return.

Through the first three quarters, then, this had been a taut, well played and exciting game. When the fourth quarter started, the Colts were leading by 17-14 and certainly the sellout crowd of 60,238 (the 25th straight sellout for the Colts in Memorial Stadium) was justified in believing that Baltimore would win. The Colts had demonstrated a remarkable ability to blunt the Ram pass rush, had managed (with the exception of Snow's two long scoring plays) to contain the enemy and had played with a certain flair that made one believe they were the better team.

But Los Angeles, too, is a good football team. In the old days the Rams might have quietly folded. But, in the words of Bernie Casey, a receiver Los Angeles obtained from San Francisco, this is a team with "something to prove."

Continue Story
1 2 3