January 12, 1958
By H. Hollingworth
Long Beach Press-Telegram
DEFENSE- as spelled out in capital letters by the tremendous forward wall of the West team- was the key to the eighth annual Pro Bowl game Sunday in the Coliseum as the Westerners smothered the East, 26-7.
Usually, the Eastern Division of the National Football League is considered the "defensive" division, but Sunday a record crowd of 66,634 citizens entertained little doubt that the West defense was the big factor in the one-sided victory.
Both coaches- and their quarterbacks- agreed 100 per cent with that analysis.
"Wow, I'm sure glad I don't have to put up with that line charge in every game I coach," whistled East coach Buddy Barker in the dressing room.
"Those big dinosaurs were murder. They outcharged my boys at every turn and my quarterbacks and runners didn't have a chance. I'm not putting the rap on my boys- that West line charge was tremendous."'
West Coach George Wilson agreed.
"Don't give the credit to the coach," he laughed in his postgame critique. "Give it to fellows like Joe Schmidt, Leo Nomellini, Art Donovan and Doug Atkins. Those defensive boys won that game for me today. What a dream to coach those fellows all season long!"
East quarterbacks Eddie LeBaron (Washington) and Earl Morrall (Pittsburgh), continued the praise session,
"I couldn't roll out on my favorite option plays at all," wailed the tiny (165 lbs.) LeBaron. "Those -guys were on my neck every minute. I agree with Parker- I'm glad I don't have to face that line in every game I play."
"My protection broke down," complained Morrall, "and I couldn't understand it at first. I figured we had as many all-stars as they did, but those charging linemen had our number today."
The West quarterbacks, Y. A. Tittle (San Francisco) and Johnny Unitas (Baltimore) said from their vantage points on the sidelines when the East chilled me to watch."
"This is my first Pro Bowl game," commented young Unitas, and my only comment is I hope I don't get traded to an Eastern Division team and ever have to meet these West guys face-to-face on the opposite team.”
Statistics illustrate the cold facts.
The East made only eight first downs.
The East gained only 98 yards rushing.
The East gained only 149 in total yards.
The East earned only 51 yards passing.
The East gained only 149 total yards.
Contrast those items with the West figures: 16 first downs, 189 yards rushing, 151 yards passing and 340 total yards.
Player-of-the-game honors went to Hugh MeElhenny (San Francisco), who carried the ball nine times for 34 yards, caught three passes for 61 yards and returned one kickoff for 19 yards.
Lineman of the game was the East's Gene Brito (Washington)- but the choice caused much press box debate, considering the tremendous West defense. Brito played a fair game, but was "suckered" numerous times by West fakes and certainly did not overshadow any member of the West defensive line.
The anticipated offensive duel between the "glamour” teams of Ollie Matson (Chicago Cards)-Jimmy Brown (Cleveland) for the East and McElhenny-Joe Arnett (Los Angeles) failed to materialize. Matson and Brown couldn’t get started all afternoon because of the hounding West defense, while McElhenny and Arnett shared laurels with four other ball carriers.
Arnett carried the ball just twice- for two yards net. Workhorses were Rick Casares (Chi Bears) 10 carries, McElhenny and Alan Ameche (Baltimore) with nine carries each. Ameche was the ground gaining hero with 83 yards- 66 of which were marked off on one rambling play.
Three records were set during the game:
1. East's Jerry Norton (Philadelphia) got off a 65-yard kick (the old mark was 56 by Jim Hardy in '51).
2. West's Bobby Dillon (Green Bay) ran 39 yards for a touchdown on a pass interception (LaVerne Torgeson set the old mark of 27 in '55).
3. The 66-yard burst of Ameche was the longest run from scrimmage (ex-Ram Dan Towler held the old mark of 61 in ’52)
Yale Lary (Detroit) wore a hero's mantle also, by booting a 61-yard kick and intercepting two East aerials. Both LeBaron and Morrall suffered two interceptions each during the afternoon, only one West pass going awry.
A scoring rundown, with significant plays during each of the periods follows:
Dillon intercepted a LeBaron pass on the East 39 and romped into the end zone. Bert Rechichar's (Baltimore) placement try was blocked by Jack Butler (Pittsburgh).
Only other significant play in the quarter was a record 65-yard punt by East's Norton.
Score: West 6, East 0.
Morrall threw touchdown pass for East to Ray Renfro (Cleveland) on play that covered 39 yards. Play was set up as Brito recovered fumble of Unitas on East 48. Lou Groza converted for East.
West scored again with 1:44 remaining in the period as Rechichar kicked 9 yard field goal.
Biggest play of the period was lumbering 66 yard run by Ameche to the East 4 yard line setting up a field goal.
Score: West 9, East 7.
Rechichar kicked 23-yard West field goal after 7:01 of period. Score came after drive of 62 yards. Drive required 10 plays. Best play in the drive was a 14-yard "keep" play by West's Tittle.
West scored again in period this time after 10:25 elapsed. Rechichar converted. Score was set up by Lary’s interception of Morrall’s aerial on the East 35 and returned to East 28. Key play just before the TD was fourth down fake field goal play, winding up with Tittle hurling 12 yard pass to McElhenny.
Score: West 19, East 7.
Final West score came after 6:27 of this period with Unitas hurling 8 yard TD pass to Ameche. Rechichar converted again. This score also was set up by pass interception. Schmidt (Detroit) grabbing another Morrall toss on East 37 and returning it to East 13.
Most spectacular play of the period, however, came in the last seconds of the game when McElhenny started wide to his right, lateralled to Tittle, who then threw forward pass to McElhenney for 28 yard gain
The Rams' Tom Wilson
explodes through the East
squad for ten yards and a
third quarter touchdown