- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The second time the Browns got the ball they took it to the Rams' 10-yard line, where they didn't bother to kick a field goal, because it all seemed so easy. Due entirely to the generosity and confidence of the Browns, the first quarter was scoreless, and the first-stringers on both sides retired to the bench to watch the substitutes get their exercise and try to catch some coach's attention.
Nothing changed, though. With Bill Nelsen, newly acquired from the Steelers, running the Browns, the team immediately took the ball to the Rams' five and again disdained the field goal, losing the ball on downs. When they finally did try for a field goal, the Rams blocked it. That seemed to take all the charity out of the Browns. The next time around Nelsen took them in close and scored with a short pass to Eppie Barney, who was standing in the end zone yawning. All this while, the Rams gained a total of 28 yards and no first downs to the Browns' 214 yards and 11. For some reason the score was only 7-0 at the half, but one felt it could just as easily have been 107.
It went along that way through much of the third quarter after Charlie Leigh, a wonderfully promising rookie whom the Browns found playing sandlot ball, had returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a 94-yard touchdown. The first-stringers were back in the game, but it made very little difference until Gabriel finally got his team moving as the third quarter was running out. For the first time they crossed midfield amid much slightly mocking applause from the previously silent stands. Bit by bit, they moved 60 yards downfield with Gabriel lobbing a short touchdown pass to Rookie Jeff Jordan, a big running back from Washington who had been having trouble holding on to the ball.
The Browns casually replied with a touchdown of their own, a 40-yard job from Ryan to Gary Collins, who was loping along by himself whistling a tune and wondering where all his opponents had gone. With less than four minutes left, Gabriel brought the score to 21-14 on a corner pass and a circus catch by Pat Studstill, whom the Rams acquired from the Lions in the trade for Quarterback Bill Munson. At that point, very few people in the Coliseum would have given much for Coach George Allen's record of not having lost an exhibition—oops, preseason—game since 1966.
The minority point of view, however, was expressed by Dick Bass, another of the Ram first-stringers who had to spend the evening on the bench getting well.
"Don't worry," Bass told a fellow standing next to him. "We'll pull it out."
"How do you mean, pull it out?" the man asked.
"Easy," Bass told him. "We'll score again, then we'll block a kick and that will be it."
And that's just the way it happened. After the onside-kick attempt, which the Browns recovered, Eddie Meador stole a Ryan pass and brought it to midfield. Four plays later Mike Dennis, a rookie back, got behind the Brown defenders, and Gabriel tossed a 33-yard pass right into Dennis' belly as he was backing across the goal line. Score tied with a minute and 53 seconds left.
Thanks to a clipping penalty on the kickoff, the Browns had to put the ball in play on their own five. There was really only one thing to do. Eat the ball, settle for a tie and let Pete Rozelle write another memo if he didn't like it. But that simple prescription didn't take into account the sudden entry of an enormous figure in a white jersey carrying No. 75. Deacon Jones, who had been importuning Coach Allen all evening to let him into the game but who had been allowed to play only a few minutes, galloped back into action from the sidelines to the cheers of the crowd.