Said Sorey, "We're the only line you'll see running 40 yards down field, looking for someone else to block. Each of us tries to outdo the other, tries to block two men on each play."
Payton, of course, is an inspiration to any offensive lineman. A graduate of Jackson State, the 5'11", 204-pounder was the Bears' No. 1 draft choice in 1975, and that year he rushed for 679 yards. Last season he exploded for 1,390, finishing second to Simpson in the NFL rushing race.
Payton resumed his assault on the Vikings after the intermission. He burst over right tackle for a couple of yards, then rolled around right end again for 19 more. The proud old Vikings were being embarrassed, and they didn't like it. Aroused, they held Payton to three yards on a draw, stopped him for no gain on a sweep and nailed him after two yards on a burst over right tackle. Then, for the first time all day, the Vikings rose up and threw Payton for a loss, dropping him a yard behind the line of scrimmage.
But just when the Vikings thought they had him in check, Payton did another number around right end for 22 yards, and at the end of the third quarter he had carried 34 times for 192 yards. Payton had rushed for 205 yards against Green Bay a month ago; he passed the 200-yard mark against the Vikings on his second rush in the final quarter, surprising the Minnesota line by going over left tackle for a change and picking up four yards. But it was back around right end for nine more yards on his next carry.
There was less than five minutes to play now, and Payton was 63 yards short of Simpson's record—too many yards, even the most diehard Chicago fans concluded. Not Payton, though.
Taking a handoff from Avellini on the Bears' 33, he busted over right tackle, cut to the right and galloped down the sidelines. "Besides his God-given ability, the thing I like about Payton that even some of the so-called great backs don't do is he knows which hand to keep the football in," says Gale Sayers, the once-great Chicago runner who had to retire prematurely in 1971 after several knee operations. "When he's going down the sideline, he keeps the ball in the outside hand so he can use the inside hand to ward off tacklers." Payton straight-armed a couple of Vikings with his free hand, bowled over a couple more, then stepped out of bounds after a gain of 58 yards.
Now he needed five yards to tie O.J. A sweep around left end netted three. Then on his 40th—and final—carry Payton went around the right side and picked up four more. He had 275 for the game, and O.J.'s record was wiped out.
"Say, Walter, did anybody mention O.J.'s record to you during the game?" Payton was asked.
"Never," Payton said. "I don't like people coming up and telling me stuff like that when the game's on."
"Well, Walter, can you do it again?"