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"There's one of the things you can't do," he said, "and win."
He thought for a moment, his thin face somber. Then he said, "We've got too many injuries." Indeed, the Rams did have a rash of not-quite-disabling injuries. Bob Brown's arm was so painful that he had a shot of Novocain before the game, and he had been previously hobbled with sore hamstrings. (In talking to Trainer George Menefee a couple of weeks earlier, Brown had said, "I don't care much about exhibitions, but when we play the Colts, if you got enough Novocain, I'll play.") Defensive Tackle Roger Brown had a broken hand; Diron Talbert, who replaced injured Gregg Schumacher at defensive end, played with four cracked ribs; Cornerback Clancy Williams had a pulled thigh muscle and a sore shoulder and Larry Smith had to have Novocain to ease the pain in his ankle.
It may be that the Rams did want to win more than the Colts. At least, that was the theory of some of the Ram players. "We didn't have as good an exhibition season as they did," Gabriel said after the game. "Maybe they looked at our record and took us too lightly. I've been thinking of this game since the Super Bowl. I was down there and I saw them lose, and I didn't think they should have."
"I don't think they were emotionally ready to play a club like the Rams," Charlie Cowan said.
Merlin Olsen, the All-Pro defensive tackle, said, "When I find myself thinking too much about a game coming up, I force myself to think about something else. I think about sitting on a bank fishing, or watching ducks fly through the sky—anything to get my mind off the game. This morning, before this game, I spent a lot of time finding something else to think about."
The Colts took their loss like old pros. "I don't think I played as well as I should have," Unitas said. "They didn't show us anything new on defense. They put Deacon Jones in the middle of the line now and then, but they did that to us last year. Then they did it when they went to a five-man line, but this time they did it sometimes without substituting a lineman for a linebacker. They got a good rush and good pressure and sometimes I was hit as I was throwing, but I've been in this league 14 years and I've seen the rush before. I think I could have done better."
"That's one game," Tom Matte said. "We've got 13 more, and someone will beat them. We're too good a team to let one loss bother us. We have to think of Minnesota next week, not about losing to the Rams."
"We get them again," Billy Ray Smith said. "It may be different then." It may. The Colts are a remarkable team, and Unitas doesn't have many off days. But football is a game of luck as well as emotion, and George Allen's lucky penny wasn't the only good omen for the Rams. Consider. When the Rams worked out at Mt. St. Joseph's, it took five police cars to keep out a bunch of youngsters who surrounded the field to shout insults at the club. After practice, as the team bus drove away, one urchin raced alongside it, glaring up at the players and howling, "The Colts will win! The Colts will win!" Looking up at the bus, he didn't see a large rock and fell flat on his face.
Consider again. During the off season, Gabriel and Olsen worked in a movie with John Wayne. The name of the movie is The Undefeated, and Gabriel plays an Indian named Blue Boy—a most unusual Indian. He gets the girl.