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Kassulke, who has played pro football for eight years, professed to be undisturbed by Stram's unflattering assessment of his play. "I'm a pro," he said. "Sure, I was embarrassed, but the people who know me know I give it all I've got. Every defensive back gets beat now and then." He paused, thought a minute and his face grew dark. "But I'd damn sure like to stick that ball right in Stram's ear on Sunday," he concluded.
He did, finally. He was beaten once on a 59-yard Len Dawson-to-Otis Taylor pass, which resulted in the Chiefs' only touchdown, but he made up for that with an odd interception in which he collaborated with Ed Sharockman on a resounding tackle of Gloster Richardson, then caught the ball when it bounced out of Richardson's hands while Kassulke was sitting on the ground.
The whole Viking team played with the same ferocity. They were thoroughly prepared for Stram's Football of the Future, but they didn't see as much of it as they expected. Most conspicuous by its absence was the renowned Kansas City stack, in which the linebackers are tucked behind the linemen.
"I saw the stack for the first time quite a while back," said Cuozzo on Saturday. A Phi Beta Kappa who will begin practicing as an orthodontist after the season, Cuozzo is introverted and soft-spoken and his habitual expression is one of vague worry. Five days earlier he had asked the Viking publicity man not to schedule him for any public appearances during the week. "I've got all I can do getting ready for this game," he said. "I have a lot of responsibility."
Cuozzo first saw the stack diagrammed nine years ago when he was a junior at the University of Virginia. Don Klosterman, at that time a scout for the Dallas Texans—who subsequently moved to Kansas City and turned into the Chiefs—came to Virginia to look over prospects and ended up talking to Cuozzo. "He drew the stack defense on a blackboard and asked me how I would attack it," Cuozzo said. "I didn't have any ideas."
Since then Cuozzo has come up with a few but he didn't have much need for them on this warm, windy and overcast day. Stram put his defense into the stack perhaps once all afternoon and Cuozzo attacked it with a screen pass to Bill Brown for a 16-yard gain and a first down. Surprisingly, the Chiefs stayed mostly in the standard 4-3 defense, which Stram has called old-fashioned, although they did use their more accustomed—and more unusual—5-2 during the first half.
"We didn't expect the 4-3 so much," said Jim Vellone, one of the guards on a Viking offensive line that dominated the line of scrimmage. "It made it easier for us, because we're used to it."
In preparing for the game, the Vikings, in essence, ignored all the froth and furbelows of the Chief formations, both on offense and defense. As Free Safety Paul Krause, who intercepted one of Dawson's passes late in the game to kill any faint hopes the Chiefs might have had, said, "We didn't have a tendency list for this game. We didn't stop to think every time they shifted into one of their formations, now they're in the I or the cock. I or whatever. We didn't shift with their shift, either. When they went into a certain set, we just tried to ruin it for them with blitzes or by jamming the blocking."
That philosophy turned the formidable Viking front four loose, which is a surefire way to make heads ring. With freedom to gamble and maneuver, they clamped down on the Chief running game and harried Dawson so much that most of his completions were shorties. Indeed, Kansas City got only one first down running all afternoon, and gained a measly 63 yards on the ground. In the Super Bowl the Chiefs had rushed for 151 yards.
After the game, Cuozzo still looked a bit uptight. He had a bruise on his back but was otherwise unmarked; he had been dumped only twice, both times when his receivers were covered and he was vainly searching for a target. Someone asked if he had been scared. He seemed a bit bemused now that the game was over and he had won and had done very well. "Scared?" he said seriously. "No, I wasn't scared. Scared isn't a word for a football player. High, maybe. Up for the game. But not scared."