No. 1 took his nomination in stride. Unitas is not an emotional man, and the many honors and records that have come his way in his years in pro football have left him untouched. "It's nice," he said. "But I don't get excited about things like that. What counts is if I do my job and we win."
The Colts arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday night. The high school field where they were to practice was accidentally flooded by a faulty watering system, and Ram President Dan Reeves offered to arrange for another practice site, but Colt Owner Carroll Rosenbloom declined.
"You probably have the other field booby-trapped with land mines and barbed-wire entanglements," he said. "We'll dry this one out and work here."
The Colt game plan, of course, was designed to take advantage of football's best quarterback enjoying one of his best years. Unitas had gained 3,222 yards throwing the ball before this game, despite the fact that the Colts' two most experienced receivers—Jimmy Orr and Raymond Berry—missed most of the season with injuries.
Baltimore planned to work on the Rams' Clancy Williams, a cornerback, with short passes to the inside after setting him up with squareouts to the sideline. " Clancy's real outside conscious," one player explained. "He almost gives you the inside. If he does, we'll take it." Quick passes to John Mackey over the middle figured in the Colt game plan, too. Mackey is one of the best tight ends in football and a formidable runner once he has caught the ball. "I nearly broke a couple of big ones in the game in Baltimore," Mackey said before the game. "Just a step or two and I'm gone. Maybe I'll get the step Sunday."
Anticipating the stunts the Ram front four customarily uses, the Colts worked hard on perfecting delayed runs designed to catch the defensive line moving. And since they had enjoyed considerable success in handling the big foursome before, the Colts' offensive linemen expected to be equally effective in Los Angeles.
Like the Rams, the Colts, too, seemed obsessed with the injustice of it all. "It's a hell of a note to have an unbeaten season and come down to the last game with the whole thing riding on one Sunday," said Braase, the defensive team captain. "But we've had a lot of bad breaks during the last three seasons. I figure it's time we got a good one."
Unhappily for the Colts, they got no breaks. It is, in fact, doubtful that any kind of break could have stopped the Rams on Sunday. Lenny Lyles, the talented Baltimore defensive back, was as ungrudging as the rest of the Colts in his praise for the Rams after the game.
"Take it from me," he said. "They're going to go all the way now. They got the mental thing with the Packers whipped. They come out of the game with everything and all we get is criticism. It's hard to understand."
Unitas, his forehead red and bruised, stood before his locker with a small, crooked smile on his face and shook his head. "We lost it," he said, "but they deserved to win. I ate a yard of dirt out there today."