Attribute the Denver Broncos' shocking 27-0 upset of the Cleveland Browns to a steaming platter of rancor, frustration and kielbassa. The Broncos, who had won only one game prior to last weekend, also defeated the Browns because they played better football. Both their lines dominated the Browns', and their two fine running backs, Floyd Little and Bob Anderson, ran so far through holes so big that the Cleveland defense will sink down in its seats when the movies are shown.
Don Horn, the young quarterback acquired by Denver from Green Bay, was given almost faultless protection by a Bronco line that supposedly had been weakened after losing Center Larry Kaminski and Guard Sam Brunelli to injuries. Kaminski, though, still contributed to the Denver cause. Hobbling happily about the dressing room with one leg in a cast, he stopped long enough to furnish an explanation for the astonishing prowess of the Bronco defense. Kaminski, it must be noted, is Polish, and his family lives in Cleveland.
"Last night I took the line and Fred Forsberg, the middle linebacker, home for some good Polish cooking," he said. "We had kielbassa [a Polish sausage], stuffed cabbage and city chicken, and they loved it. I guess it gave them a little more energy today, too." City chicken, for those unfamiliar with Polish cooking, is not chicken at all but veal and pork chunks on a stick, breaded and roasted so it looks like a drumstick.
More fuel was added to the Bronco cause by Art Modell, the Browns' owner. Long ago, during the merger negotiations between the two teams, Modell memorably said, "I don't ever want to see the Denver Broncos play in my stadium." Moreover, in 1967, after both Cleveland and Denver had drafted Notre Dame Defensive Lineman Pete Duranko, Modell told him that he would regret it if he signed with Denver, since it was doubtful that the franchise would last. Before the game Duranko, who was injured earlier this season, reminded his teammates of Modell's words.
"We talked about the things he had said," one Bronco noted after the game. "It was no real big thing, but everything helps, doesn't it?"
The Denver frustration had come from a maddening series of injuries and from the equally maddening treatment the club was getting from the Denver fans. "The bench in Denver is pretty close to the stands," Kaminski said. "You can't believe the things they call us and the things they throw at us. I do some public relations work for the club, and I would try to tell people that it was because of injuries, but they didn't pay any attention. One guy listened to me, then he said, 'If I pay 50� for a bottle of milk, I expect a good bottle of milk. And when I pay $7.50 for a football ticket, I expect a good football game.' "
When the game got to the field, the Broncos relied mainly upon a few simple running plays to beat the Browns. During the first half, which they entirely dominated, they marched 92 yards to their first touchdown using traps and an off-tackle play called 46 or 47, depending upon which side of the line it is directed at. It worked equally well on both sides. The march lasted 10 minutes from the opening kickoff and consisted of 15 plays, only two of them passes.
The touchdown came on the second of these, a fine call on third down at the Browns' seven-yard line by Lou Saban, the former Cleveland player who now coaches Denver. By the time the Broncos had reached the seven, the Brown defense had become so wary of the run that almost the entire team took the feint of the run, leaving only one man to try to handle Tight End Billy Masters, who caught the ball in the corner of the end zone.
That drive set the tone for the game, especially when it became apparent that the Denver defense was going to be as tough as the offense. An 11-play, 67-yard march made it 14-0 midway through the second quarter, with Bob Anderson smashing the last six yards through the crumbling Cleveland line.
Forsberg, fortified by city chicken and kielbassa, accounted for the third Denver touchdown two plays later. Drifting back into zone coverage, he picked off a Bill Nelsen pass intended for Tight End Milt Morin and returned it 40 yards for the score. The unfortunate Nelsen fumbled as soon as the Browns got the ball back, and Denver's Dave Costa recovered on the Cleveland 13. This time the Broncos settled for a field goal just as the half ended.