"Man, I got down as low as I could get and it wasn't low enough," May said, shaking his head. "And when he hits you, he really pops. After he hit me, when I was lying there, I thought, 'If this man don't make the team, no one is going to make it.' "
Nottingham, who sometimes leads Bulaich into the hole out of a short-yardage set, has the rare distinction of having knocked Dallas' All-Pro tackle, Bob Lilly, flat on his back. " Nottingham covers the hole when the guard pulls," Colt Coach Don McCafferty said. "He hits the tackle about knee high, and he really creams him. After a while the tackle starts looking down for him."
"Big difference for me in pro football," Nottingham piped, "is all the big hits. At Kent State I used to get a few big hits an afternoon, but here every time you get hit, it's a big hit."
The good Colt offense has animated what has always been a very good Colt defense. "We aren't on the field as much now," said Mike Curtis, the middle linebacker who is playing with his right arm in a cast covering half his forearm and his thumb. He broke the first joint of the thumb and it is held together by the cast and two steel pins. "We're quicker on defense, too," he added. " Bubba Smith is great and so is the rest of the defensive line. Used to be, I worried about making a mistake, but now I can gamble because I know I'm going to be covered. Makes it a lot easier, and the linebackers can take a deeper drop, knowing the line will usually handle the run."
On the bus to the high school field where they held their Saturday workout before the Steeler game, the Colts were relaxed and confident. Roy Hilton, the 6'6" 240-pound defensive end, roared, "Hey, Bubba, we took a vote and you won unanimous."
Bubba looked at him, his face expressionless.
"You are the No. 1 alltime great ugly cat," Hilton hollered, and the whole bus rocked with laughter. When it had died down, Hilton said, "You the alltime No. 1 ugly because there is so much of you to be ugly."
To set the record straight, Bubba, who stands 6'8" and weighs 265, is not an ugly man. He might more aptly be described as majestic.
After the workout McCafferty, whose gentle ways have earned him the nickname "Easy Rider" from his players, was a little worried. "I think maybe they're too relaxed," he said, "but how can you tell? There's no way to know until the game starts."
No one could accuse the Colts of being too relaxed after the game. The dressing room was quietly happy, but the players were a mite disappointed.