In the first half, the Packers blocked a field-goal attempt and capitalized on the break almost immediately when Bart Starr coolly hit Carroll Dale with a 30-yard touchdown pass. "Looks like the same old story," a disgruntled Ram official observed. "They wait until we make a mistake—and wham."
As it turned out, the story changed. Gabriel, working on short passes and runs, got the touchdown back on a fine pass to Jack Snow behind Jeter in the Packer end zone. The teams then settled down to a tierce struggle of defenses. But in the second quarter Gabriel inexplicably went to long passes. Two were intercepted but the Ram defense rescued the team after these breaks and all Green Bay got out of both was one field goal.
In the second half Gabriel forsook the long pass to concentrate on quick look-ins or passes out to the sidelines. Soon he put the Rams ahead 14-10 with another pass to Snow for a touchdown, this one from 11 yards out. A field goal shortly afterward made it 17-10.
All during the first half, in deference to the extraordinary running ability of Travis Williams, the Rams had used squib kicks when kicking off. Now, heady with the seven-point lead, they boomed one and Williams caught it four yards deep in the end zone. He is 6'1" and weighs 210, but he has run a legitimate 9.3 hundred. He came out of the end zone at express speed. He crashed headlong into big Tackle Bob Nichols at the 15-yard line. The impact might have felled a smaller man than Williams. Instead it knocked Nichols out of one shoe as Williams bounced three yards sideways and landed balanced and running. When he hit the sideline, he was cleared all the way to the goal line.
In past years so shocking a contretemps might have devastated the Rams, but not this time. They went on to the win that brings them up to what will be the most important game in their history—the contest Sunday against the Baltimore Colts.
Late in its game in St. Louis the next day, Cleveland found itself in a position similar to Green Bay's. The Browns were forced to punt when they were ahead by just four points, 20-16, with little more than a minute to go. But lightning did not strike twice. Gary Collins got his punt away, and the clock ran out on the St. Louis bid.
Now the Browns must face the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas on December 24 in the divisional playoff for the Eastern Conference championship. The Browns have had a good year and it might have been an even better one had Frank Ryan been completely healthy all season long. Their pair of running backs—Leroy Kelly and Ernie Green—is the best in football, and in Paul Warfield and Collins they have fine targets for Ryan's passes.
But the Cowboys can almost match Kelly and Green, and they certainly equal Warfield and Collins with their receivers, led by Bob Hayes. Their defense is even better, probably ranking behind only the Rams' and Green Bay's. Dallas should beat Cleveland.
As the Rams and Packers left the field in Los Angeles, three spectators carefully took down a sign they had displayed all through the bright, crisp afternoon. It read DEACON JONES FOR SECRETARY OF DEFENSE. Jones had a good day against Green Bay, often forcing Starr to scramble for time to throw.
"We got to get to Johnny U. next week," he said. "Maybe then I'll take a job as Secretary of Defense."