- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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The ball was picked off by Green Bay's ubiquitous safety Willie Wood, who had cut in front of Fred Arbanas. Wood ran the interception down to the Kansas City five-yard line, where Garrett caught him. Elijah Pitts scored easily on the next play. "Who tackled me?" Wood asked in the dressing room later and shook his head when someone said it was Garrett. "He's a good one."
After Wood's interception the Chiefs seemed to come apart. They never again got beyond the Green Bay 44-yard line. The Packers, under the cool, intelligent marshaling of Starr, moved the ball almost at will.
Green Bay scored again late in the third period as its running game began to move more easily against the opened-up Kansas City defense. Starr still used the run sparingly; on a 56-yard drive he hit McGee three times—once for 11 yards, once for 16 yards on third-and-11 and once for 13 yards and a touchdown. All three passes were essentially the same: down-and-in patterns with McGee beating the cornerback.
The Packers scored once more in the fourth period, doing it with almost contemptuous ease. They started from their 20-yard line. This was after the defense had stopped a Chiefs offensive flurry that was spurred by an interception of Starr by Willie Mitchell. As if to prove to Mitchell that the interception was a fluke, Starr's first pass from Green Bay's 20 was for 25 yards to Dale, who left Mitchell spraddle-legged on a square-out pattern. Then Starr passed to McGee for 37 yards, and again Mitchell was the victim. Taylor failed to gain from the Kansas City 18-yard line, but Starr passed to Dale (on Mitchell) for another seven yards. From the 11 Pitts and Taylor ran the ball in, with Pitts going the last yard.
So the Packers did just what they thought they would be able to do after watching Kansas City game movies. "They seem to be deep-conscious, but they are vulnerable on the flanks," Starr had said. "I expect we will attack them with our flanker and spread end." Ultimately, attackers McGee and Dale caught 11 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns.
The Chiefs' Garrett said it from the other side: "They pick out a weak spot and stay with it better than any team I've seen. Which weak spot? Well, they were passing like mad on us and hitting those third-down plays, so there must have been a weakness somewhere."
If there were any differences in the practice sessions of the two teams, they were mental, not physical. Both Lombardi and Kansas City coach Hank Stram had decreed secret workouts, not to conceal any new and devastating plays from a large and news-starved pack of reporters but to assure the concentration of the players. "We'll do about what we have always done," Lombardi said. "Why change? We've been successful."
And the familiar routine meant that the players' concentration was indeed clear. "We'll show them," said Wood before the game. "Past scores, movies, heights, sizes, weights—none of that means a thing. The only thing that counts is combat, head-to-head, for 60 minutes on the field."
"Look," said Tom Brown, the other Green Bay safety, "we have had a great season. We won 12 games, and we only lost two, and we beat Dallas for our second straight [NFL] championship. You know something? If we lose this game, the season won't mean anything. No one will remember that. You know what they will remember? That the Green Bay Packers were the NFL team that lost to Kansas City in the first game played between the leagues."
"We have to show clearly just how big a difference there is between the two teams," defensive end Lionel Aldridge announced. "How bad should we beat them? I don't know, but one touchdown won't be enough."