The Colts' luck turned bad again on Baltimore's next series of downs. Although Unitas had not been as sharp in this game as in some preseason contests, the crowd came alive as he began moving his club. He had more than 12 minutes left, he trailed by only 10 points and Colt fans are thoroughly familiar with his penchant for saving lost causes with fourth-quarter heroics.
To negate the rush of the Ram line, Unitas went to short passes, dinking a lateral to Pearson, who gained five yards to the Baltimore 30. Then he tossed a swing pass to Matte flaring out of the backfield, and Matte, a sturdy, industrious runner, rattled for 19 yards. Unitas snapped a look-in pass to Ray Perkins, then hit Perkins again on another quick pattern, putting the ball on the Rams' 34, and the crowd was on its feet.
Unitas, deliberate, even phlegmatic despite the uproar, took a long time calling the play. He surveyed the Ram defense briefly and took the snap on a quick count. He glanced to his left and pumped as if he were going to slip another quickie to Perkins, then turned to his right and threw the ball in a high, reaching arc toward Willie Richardson. Richardson had beaten Cornerback Clancy Williams and took the perfectly thrown pass over his shoulder as he crossed the goal line. It was a well-executed play, but it was called back for a holding penalty on John Williams, a second-year guard. Although the Colts later picked up a meaningless field goal, that was, essentially, the ball game.
"I wasn't holding," Williams said after the game. He is a big, thickset, very black man with an oddly childish face. "There had been a lot of controversy out there on the field. I was blocking on Merlin Olsen, and he was complaining a lot about holding to the official. On the play before, he went out of the game limping, and Coy Bacon came in and he was beating me to the outside and I had my elbow out trying to stop him, but I wasn't holding him. I guess maybe from where the official was standing it looked like holding, but really I wasn't holding him."
The Ram victory, of course, wasn't entirely due to George Allen's lucky penny. It was due in some larger measure to the rush of the Ram line and the heady field generalship of Gabriel, plus crisp blocking by an offensive line helped immeasurably by Bob Brown, the all-NFL tackle acquired from the Eagles in what may have been the best trade since the Giants got Y. A. Tittle from the 49ers for a lineman named Lou Cordileone.
Brown met Bubba Smith, the 295-pound defensive end, head on. In Baltimore's final preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys, Smith had destroyed an All-Pro tackle, Ralph Neely, but he did not destroy Brown. Brown, too, weighs 295, and he must have the quickest charge of any man his size. Time and again he slammed into Smith and straightened him up, and Smith, who had given the Cowboys' Roger Staubach fits, never laid a hand on Gabriel.
Brown is an emotional man, which somehow doesn't go with his size. He came to the Rams in joy and thanksgiving from Philadelphia, where he had been conspicuously unhappy. "I couldn't believe it at first," he said. "I didn't think it could be so good. This is a fabulous bunch of guys. Anyone can put on a uniform and play, but this is a very emotional team."
Someone asked him the difference between playing for now-discharged Coach Joe Kuharich and playing for Allen. "It's the difference between daylight and dark," a trainer interjected, but Brown shook his head and thought a moment. "No," he said. "It's the difference between Raquel Welch and some girl off the corner."
Miss Welch was not one of Brown's problems in Baltimore. Allen has ferreted out some notably unglamorous establishments for the Rams to be sequestered in when they are on the road. The Hilltop Motor Inn, where they stayed in Baltimore, is down the street from the national headquarters for Social Security records, and the liveliest entertainment in the neighborhood is at a bowling alley once owned by Unitas. As one player said, "We're a $5 ride from a bright light."
On Saturday afternoon Allen, clad in light-blue cotton pajamas, watched the Texas-California game on television. His lucky penny was in an ashtray near him, but it didn't cheer him up much. A California back fumbled, and he shook his head sadly.