"He taught me a lot," Upshaw said after the All-Star game. "I'm a better guard for what I learned." The lesson should continue in the Orange Bowl.
If you want to pursue the matter of individual match-ups, how about these? Willie Davis (10 years in the NFL and all-pro) vs. Harry Schuh (three years in the AFL); Lionel Aldridge (five years a starter for Green Bay) vs. Bob Svihus (three years in the AFL). On defense for the Raiders, Dan Birdwell, in his sixth season and never an All-Pro, faces Jerry Kramer, who has been an All-Pro in most of his 10 NFL seasons. Ike Lassiter, one of the best of the Raider defensive linemen, meets Forrest Gregg, the man who dominated the Rams' Jones. Lassiter is as big as Jones, but not as fast. Tom Keating, the other star of the Raider defensive line, is the only player who will have an edge on his adversary in experience. He is matched with young Gale Gillingham, a second-year guard who beat out Fuzz Thurston for the position this season. Thurston still can play guard for almost any pro team.
So, in the lines, which nearly always decide a game, the Packers enjoy a clear and decisive margin. But if the line play should result in a standoff, what then?
No team in football can match the Packer linebackers. Ray Nitschke, a 6'3", 235-pound veteran of 10 years, was easily the best middle linebacker in football in 1967, although most All-Pro selections, amazingly, ignored him. He is a damaging tackier, quick enough to drop back and defend against a pass and a play diagnostician of the first order. Dave Robinson and Lee Roy Caffey are big, fast and All-Pro caliber as corner linebackers.
" Green Bay's defense is built on its linebackers," Tom Landry, the Dallas head coach, said before the championship game in Green Bay. "It should be. They may be the best set of linebackers ever to play football."
Behind them is perhaps the best secondary in football. Herb Adderley and Bob Jeter at the corners and Tom Brown and Willie Wood at safety have worked together for a long time and have superb individual skills, against both the run and the pass.
The Raiders probably will run for short yardage on this formidable defense. They have strong runners in Hewritt Dixon and Pete Banaszak and, for that matter, in Daryle Lamonica. The Green Bays do not concentrate on stopping the run; they consider it more important to take away the pass. "They bend with you on the run for a while," Landry says. "You get the short gains because they are trying to blow in there on the passer. They shut off the run when you get down close."
Dave Hanner, who coaches the Green Bay defensive line, has it figured out. " Jordan has to go in there all out," he says. "He's got to get off on the ball and roll. So does Willie Davis. If they stop and read and get cautious, it hurts. What if Henry gets trapped now and then? So they gain five, six yards. They aren't going all the way. We get more when Henry or Willie gets to the passer than we lose if they are trapped. It's a good gamble."
No team—certainly not Oakland—figures to whip the Packers with a running game. If a runner does penetrate the line, he faces those big, mobile linebackers and, if he should escape them, he still must evade the fast, sure tacklers in the secondary.
Lamonica, who came from Buffalo to lift the Raiders to their first championship, is certainly a good passer. He has thrown for 32 touchdowns and was selected as the Most Valuable Player in the AFL. But. with only one year's real experience, he is still far behind Bart Starr, who has been a super quarterback for eight seasons. Starr has been in nine championship or playoff games and nobody in pro football has ever had a better record in big games.