NEWS AND NOTES
BAYS TAKE DAY OFF BEFORE STARTING WORK FOR FINALE WITH RAMS
DECEMBER 6 (Los Angeles) - The Green Bay Packers rested here Monday before they went to work again Tuesday for their NFL finale with the Rams at Los Angeles Sunday. The Packers' performance in their 28-7 triumph over the 49ers at San Francisco certainly earned them a day off. Against the 49ers, quarterback Tobin Rote had one of his finest days. The protection afforded by his lineman was superb. Rote completed 50% of his passes, 9 of 18, to six different receivers. He never had to "eat" the football for a loss and he never had to run when he went back to throw. Nor were any of his pitched intercepted. Green Bay's running game was hardly effective but for good reason. Fullback Howie Ferguson is so battered and bruised that he can hardly pull on his uniform. But he must be in there to keep the defense honest. With Ferguson crippled but still willing, old Breezy Reid came up with by far his top job of the season, running low and fighting for extra yards. He led the Packers' modest ground attack with 32 yards. He also caught three passes for 77 yards, leading the team in both respects. Reid's last catch, for a 60 yard touchdown play on a short pass over the middle, perhaps brought home to Rote something Coach Lisle Blackbourn has been telling him with indifferent success for two season. Throw them short. Rote laughed about his passing after the 49er game especially when Ray (Scooter) McLean, backfield coach, pointed out that he had thrown only once (for a 13 yard gain) to Billy Howton, fellow Rice alumnus and usually his favorite target. "Those shorties over the middle," Rote said, grinning as he buttoned his shirt, "had their linebackers going crazy. They didn't know which way to turn or which guy to follow." Blackbourn expressed pleasure over his defense, as well he might. "Our strategy," he said, "was to stop the long one, which we did. We figured that if we had to let them complete the short passes and make yards on traps up the middle coming down the field, okay. We didn't think they'd be consistent enough to keep going, that something would stop them sooner or later in close, a fumble or an interception. That's what happened, too. The boys did what they were supposed to all the way." Lou Rymkus, line coach, pointed out that the defensive line put a good rush on San Francisco's passers, Y.A. Tittle and later Maury Duncan. "Sure," he said, "we didn't catch Tittle for big losses, but the boys forced him out of the pocket several time, and made him get rid of the ball too fast most of the time. If you want to single out someone who did a real good job in there, I'd say Dave Hanner, although he had plenty of help." Bill Forester, middle guard, made two leaping interceptions and lateraled off to gritty little Billy Bookout after one of them. The large, well-proportioned Texan with the slow drawl had one of his better day after disappointing performances earlier in the season. Roger Zatkoff also leaped high for an interception and Bobby Dillon, quarterback of the deep defense, grabbed another, bringing his season total to nine. Doyle Nix, improving as he learned and one of the league's really fine rookie defensive backs, knocked down three passes, one of them after a burst of speed and a leap to avert what looked like a certain 49er touchdown. For his part, Val Joe Walker, Dillon's sidekick at safety in the all-Texas back line, fell on a fumble on the Packer one foot line to halt San Francisco's early second half bid to make it a contest once again. After the game, the 49ers denied that Walker had actually recovered the ball. Joe Perry, fullback, said, "I crossed the goal and still had possession. It should have been a touchdown. When I did fumble in the end zone, McElhenny was on the ball." Hugh McElhenny, 49ers' halfback, said, "I was sitting right on the ball - in the end zone. It was mine." Someone asked Walker how he got the ball. "McElhenny slid across and past the ball, and I feel on it," he said. "Well, where did you recover it?" "Where'd the referee put the ball down?" Walker asked. "On the one foot line." "That's good enough for me," Walker said, smiling.
ALAN AMECHE CINCH FOR RUSHING HONORS
DECEMBER 7 (Philadelphia) - Alan (The Horse) Ameche, Baltimore Colt rookie fullback and former University of Wisconsin All-American, almost could sit it out in the final game of the season Sunday and still win the individual ground gaining championship in the NFL. Statistics released Wednesday by league headquarters here show Ameche with 932 yards, 197 more than his closest rival, Fred Morrison of the Cleveland Browns. Ameche will face the San Francisco 49ers in the closing game of his first pro season Sunday. Morrison will his plunging against the Chicago Cardinals. Morrison, with 146 carries to Ameche's 197, is averaging 5.5 yards a play. Ameche has an average of 4.7. Howie Ferguson of the Green Bay Packers dropped to third place with 796 yards. Tobin Rote, Green Bay quarterback, remained in 11th place among the league's passers with 114 completions for a total of 1,836 yards and a 5.85 average. Cleveland's Otto Graham is well ahead of the pack with a 9.25 average on 85 completions for 1,480 yards. Jim Finks of the Pittsburgh Steelers has gained the most yards through the air, 2,100. Punting honors will be at stake in Green Bay's game with Los Angeles Sunday. Norm Van Brocklin of Los Angeles leads with an average of 44.5 yards. Dick Deschaine of Green Bay is second with 43.4 and Adrian Burk of Philadelphia third with 43.3. Biggest gain among pass receivers in the last week was made by Pete Pihos, Philadelphia veteran, who caught 10 aerials and jumped from third to first place. Pihos has caught 51 passes for 750 yards and seven touchdowns. Billy Wilson of the 49ers is second with 49 completions. The Packers' Al Carmichael continues to lead in kickoff returns with a total of 392 yards on 13 for an average of 30.2 Ollie Matson of the Cardinals is out in front in punt returns with 167 yards on 11 for a 15.2 average. Willard Sherman of the Rams leads in pass interceptions with 11, followed by Green Bay's Bobby Dillon with nine. Doak Walker of Detroit is the scoring leader with 83 points.
BEARS WRAP UP OFFENSE CROWN
DECEMBER 7 (Philadelphia) - The Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams settle their Western Division title argument on separate fields this Sunday, but the Bears have already taken a stranglehold on the statistical battle. The Rams jumped from fourth to second place in total yards gained after last week's action, but they still trail the Bears by 330 yards, NFL statistics showed Wednesday. The chances of the Rams gaining 330 yards more against the Packers than the Bears do against the Eagles are remote. The Los Angeles club rolled up 418 yards on the ground and in the air against Baltimore, while the Bears were piling up 203 against the Lions. The totals are the Bears, 4,024 to 3,694 for the Californians. Cleveland, winner of the Eastern Division title, is the third place club, Detroit fourth and Pittsburgh fifth. Barring an oversized splurge by the Browns, the statistical title appears rest in the Rams-Bear games. The Bears also are on top as rushing yardage leaders, with a total of 2,174 to the Browns' 1,929. Los Angeles, Washington and Green Bay trail in that order. In the passing department, the Steelers and Eagles are waging a nip-and-tuck affair for the statistical title. The Steelers have a 37-yard edge, 2,273 to the Eagles' 2,236. Detroit, Los Angeles and Chicago follow. Cleveland's passing efficiency leadership, mainly the work of Otto Grahan, dipped one percent, but is still four percent better at 56 than Baltimore with 52 percent completions. Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco are next in line.
SLOW BUT SURE - PACKERS STAYED IN RACE WITH LITTLE SPEED
DECEMBER 8 (Milwaukee Journal) - Green Bay stayed in contention for the NFL championship until just a week before Sunday's finale here with the leading Los Angeles Rams, despite lack of speed. As Tom Hearden, Packer assistant coach, pointed out Wednesday, "Speed is essential in almost every major sport you can name except maybe golf." Only swiftees on the Packers are Bobby Dillon, Val Joe Walker and Doyle Nix, defensive backs, and halfback Al Carmichael and end Billy Howton on offense...Jack Smalley, former Alabama tackle who was drafted by the Packers a year ago, visited Green Bay's dressing room after last Sunday's victory over the 49ers in San Francisco. Now in the Air Force, Smalley hopes to be out of the service in time to give pro football a whirl next season. He weighs 230 pounds...ROOMED WITH PAINE: Len Szafaryn, touchdown hero on Pat O'Donoghue's blocked punt against the 49ers, roomed with Phil Paine, Milwaukee Braves pitcher, when they were in the Army in Japan in 1952. Szafaryn, veteran tackle from North Carolina, scored his first pro touchdown, but once he scored in college when he played end. Lou Rymkus, Green Bay line coach, told Szafaryn, "Better keep that touchdown a game streak going." Rymkus, as a pro rookie tackle with the Washington Redskins in 1942, scored in successive games, on an intercepted screen pass and a blocked punt...BIG DIFFERENCE: The difference in time could make a difference in Sunday's Packer-Ram game. The Chicago Bears, half a game behind Los Angeles, will have completed their game with Philadelphia at Chicago before the kickoff here at 4 o'clock (Milwaukee time). If the Bears win, the pressure will be on the Rams, for they will need a victory, or at least a tie, to win the Western Division title. If the Bears lose, Los Angeles will be "in", but Green Bay will have a share of second place money at stake. In that case a victory would earn the Packers a tie with the Bears for the runner-up spot...Los Angeles writers, brash in their praise of the Rams, call fullback Tank Younger "the best running back in the whole league right now." Lisle Blackbourn, Green Bay coach, hopes Howie Ferguson will be ready to five Younger a duel. Blackbourn feared Ferguson's collar bone was broken, but X-rays proved negative. The Green Bay fullback has been hampered by shoulder injuries for three games in a row, but never flinches...COLOR IN PUNTS: The Packer last beat the Rams here in 1947. The score was 30-10....In discussing pass receivers most difficult to cover, Bobby Dillon, Packer defensive back, said, "I'm glad I don't have to watch Billy Howton in a game. He's a tricky as anyone I've tried to cover. He drives us crazy in practice." Dillon says that he never worries about pass interference. "I try never to use my hands on the receiver," he says. "If I'm going for the ball, there's any bumping or shoving to be done, the elbows and hips may get in the way, but never the hands."...After the Packers fumbled a punt, got good returns on three others (one was called back), blocked a 49er kick, barely missed another and got away with a 73 yard punt of their own from their one foot line in last Sunday's game, Red Strader, San Francisco coach, commented wryly, "Coach Blackbourn of the Packers must have read Commissioner Bert Bell's edict on getting color into punts and punt returns."
70,000 TO SEE PACKERS PLAY
DECEMBER 8 (Los Angeles) - The Los Angeles Rams hold steady as a seven-point favorite over the Green Bay Packers in the final game of the Western Conference Sunday in Memorial Coliseum, but the odds may be frightfully wrong because of the physical condition of the Ram ends. Weather forecast for Sunday is fair and the attendance figures to be around 70,000. Elroy Hirsch and Bob Boyd, two speed-burning flankmen, are listed as available for limited duty, and Tom Fears is a certain starter. But none is really capable of going all the way, The Ram passing game just isn't what it is supposed to be. Still Hirsch, Boyd and Fears were kaput last week, too, and yet the Rams whipped Baltimore. Skeet Quinlan, a scatback, got on the receiving end of Norm Van Brocklin's passes and made the air threat a real one against the Colts. Liz Blackbourn insists that personnel-wide, the Chicago Bears are the only team in the NFL comparable to the Rams. He says that with all due credit to Sid Gillman, who he says has done a fine coaching job, the Rams are loaded, and injured players gave way to replacements just about as good. Tobin Rote always has been effective against the Rams, who rate him as the best quarterback they have played against. He passed them dizzy in Milwaukee in their last meeting, but went sour in the second half and the Packers barely shaded the Los Angeles club, 30-28. But Blackbourn points out that Tank Younger, the Ram fullback, wasn't in the game then. His return and that of Quinlan have strengthened the Ram running game considerably. Then, too, the Rams have a way of beating the Packers in Los Angeles. Green Bay has won only one of nine games against the Rams here, and the Rams have a way of winning the games they must win in Los Angeles. Nevertheless, it figures as a touch and go game Sunday. The squabble among the Ram owners over the management of the team will have no effect on the players, Gillman promises. Chances are that Dan Reeves will remain on as president, in spite of the desire of some partners in the Ram enterprise to make him spend more time on the job.
3 PACKERS ALL-PRO
DECEMBER 8 (Chicago) - Packer quarterback Tobin Rote, fullback Howie Ferguson and safetyman Bobby Dillon Thursday were named All-Pro by the NEA service. The mythical team was selected by the 396 players of the NFL. In a blanket finish, Rote nosed out Cleveland's Otto Graham. End Billy Howton and linebacker Roger Zatkoff were picked on the second team. In the first team backfield with Rote and Ferguson were Ollie Matson of the Cardinals and Frank Gifford of the Giants.
PACKERS ARE READY FOR RAMS SUNDAY
DECEMBER 9 (Los Angeles) - Lisle Blackbourn said Friday that he thought his Green Bay Packers could beat the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL finale here Sunday. "We've got as good a chance as they have," he said. Handicappers have established the Rams, Western Division leaders by a mere half a game over the Bears, as favorites to beat the Packers. Green Bay is out of championship contention, a game and a half behind the Rams with only one game to go, but Blackbourn said that he felt the Packers were in a good frame of mind. They could knock the Rams out of the title. "We're in as good physical shape as we've been for a long time," he said. "Ringo feels better than he has for a month and we got no new injuries out of the game at San Francisco." Howie Ferguson, fullback, still has a tender shoulder and collarbone, but X-rays revealed nothing wrong with the bone and he may well be ready to roll again. "If Fergy has a good day, the kind he was having consistently before he was hurt," Blackbourn said, "that will mean a lot to us." Jim Ringo, center, is moving around as if his back, thrown out of kilter at Detroit Thanksgiving Day, had never given him a bit of trouble. Tobin Rote, quarterback, has shaken his cold. "From our scout (Johnny Johnson, UCLA assistant coach)," Blackbourn said, "we learned that the Rams are a much improved club. They really handled Baltimore a lot more easily than the score (20-14) would indicate. Tank Younger is going strong at fullback. He didn't play against us in Milwaukee when we won, 30-28, on Fred Cone's last minute field goal. With Younger in there, they have got to be better. Waller is hard to stop. I've said before he was one of the finest rookie backs in the league. Their receivers have been hurt, but Boyd and Fears will be ready Sunday and Hirsch might be. Quinlan has filled in well. They have the versatility needed to overcome injuries. They will be difficult to contain." Another factor, Blackbourn said, was that the Rams have shown great consistency of late. They gained more than 300 yards on the ground against Baltimore's strong line. "Now that's something," Blackbourn said. At San Francisco last Sunday, the 49ers controlled the ball, 82 plays to 49 for the Packers, but they could score only once in Green Bay's 28-7 triumph, because they lost the ball on a fumble and interceptions when they threatened. "Los Angeles isn't likely to do that," Blackbourn said. "The Rams are more consistent." Against Baltimore last Sunday, the Rams drove 99 yards plus for one of their touchdowns. That's consistency, for sure.
PACKERS IN FINE FETTLE FOR RAM FINALE SUNDAY
DECEMBER 9 (Los Angeles) - Relaxed and confident was the attitude of the Packers here Friday as Coach Liz Blackbourn put the squad through a comparatively light drill for the final game of the season against the title-dreaming Rams Sunday. Mentally, from all indications, Tobin Rote and company are still delighted over the showing against the 49ers last week at San Francisco. The 28-7 Packer victory doesn't truly reflect the fact that the 49ers were tough; tough before their hometown fans and trying desperately to salvage something out of a dismal season. Not forgotten, either, is the thought that only two