The Packers obviously have much to look ahead to.
"We got only four games out of Bob Brown," said Dave Robinson, the big corner linebacker. "In one season he broke an arm and a leg. Weatherwax wrecked his knee and we didn't get one minute out of him and he's the biggest man on the squad. These were the guys we figured on to rest Henry Jordan and Ron Kostelnik and both of them played with injuries. We got a lot of good young ones and you can't figure us for all those injuries again. We'll be back."
If they should fail to recapture their Lombardi years, the problem will very likely be found at quarterback. Starr, when healthy, is still one of the most capable quarterbacks in football, but at 35 he has reached the age where injuries linger, and it would be foolhardy to expect him to grow sturdier in the seasons to come. Zeke Bratkowski, who has been a useful replacement for Starr, is 37 and ready to retire. The Packers will have to develop a good young quarterback and do it immediately if Bengtson is to duplicate the accomplishments of Lombardi.
Given the good young quarterback and health, the Packers may still have trouble dominating the league as they did from 1960 through 1967. The Colts, a nice blend of experience and youth, will be around for quite a while, and so will the Rams, 49ers, Vikings, Cowboys and Browns.
Baltimore, with the best defense since the 1963 Chicago Bears and the best No. 2 quarterback in the league, clinched the Coastal Division when the Bears upset the Rams on Sunday and now stands a very good chance of replacing Green Bay as both NFL and Super Bowl champion. Johnny Unitas did not get into the game against the Packers, but the week before, in the 44-0 rout of Atlanta, he played part of the second half, completed five of 10 passes and threw the ball with much of his old skill. Should Morrall falter, Unitas may be ready.
But it is that magnificent defense that has given the Colts impetus since their surprising loss to Cleveland on Oct. 20.
"We have played together so long now we react without thinking," said Jerry Logan, the Baltimore strong safety who limited the Green Bay tight ends to a total of one catch. Bengtson moved Boyd Dowler from spread end to tight end to beef up the Packer passing attack, but the move proved fruitless against the tenacious guarding of the Colt secondary.
"After you have been together as long as we have you know instinctively where your support is coming from and you know it is coming," Logan said. "We've got some good young ones, too. I know Mike Curtis has been a big help to me at linebacker. I think he's the best corner linebacker in the league right now and that makes my job a lot easier. And I know Bobby Boyd won't make any mistakes. That means I can take chances I wouldn't normally."
"There's no place for the other quarterback to go on third and eight," one Colt said with satisfaction. "Most clubs, you got someone you can pick on then, some guy you know you can beat. You save him for that third-and-eight call. But there isn't anyone to save on this club. They are all tough."
That's just the way it used to be with the old Packers.