AFL All-Stars 30
Buffalo Bills 19
January 15, 1966
By George Ross
Houston- In a game of mere mortal champions against superstars, the American Football League's All-Stars whipped the Buffalo Bills 30-19 here Saturday behind quarterback Joe Namath, the classy rookie from New York.
Sid Gillman, going as long as he could with an offense loaded with his own runner-up San Diego Chargers, gained a measure of revenge over the champion Buffalo Bills as Namath pitched two touchdowns in the second half to turn a somewhat sluggish first half exhibition into a contest worthy of all-star billing.
Offenses had produced just four field goals in the first half- two by sidewinding Hungarian kicker Pete Gogolak for the Bills and two by piston-legged Gino Cappeletti for the Stars- and the all-leaguers were trailing 13-6 by virtue of a 61-yard run-in of a fumble by Buffalo defensive back George Saimes in the first quarter.
The new-formula AFL battle was beginning to look like a Mexican standoff on the ground and in the air until Namath took over for Charger quarterback John Hadl in the third quarter.
The $400,000 Alabama beauty, football's one-time money winningest bonus baby, moved the star-stocked club to another fielder and two TD’s in the third frame and pitched his second six-pointer of the bright afternoon in the fourth. By then it was all over but for a meaningless late Buffalo score on a pass from understudy quarterback Daryle Lamonica to Wray Carlton good for 30 yards and a measure of decency for the injury riddled champs.
Gillman kept all-league fullback Cookie Gilchrist somewhat in reserve and used Oakland's halfback Clem Daniels sparingly while leaning heavily on his fine combination of Paul Lowe and Keith Lincoln in the backfield with Hadl.
He also unlimbered speedy flanker Lance Alworth, injured and once declared unable to take part, and it's good he had him around. Alworth caught two of Namath's passes for scores, one a 43-yard deep pattern in which he simply out-zigged and out-ran Buffalo's Butch Byrd, the other a punishing slant into traffic over the middle in which Byrd knocked him cold sprawled across the goal line.
Lowe, San Diego's record-setting ground gainer, a 1,121-rusher in 1965, got the other all-star TD the hard way, smashing into linebacker John Tracey at the goal line.
Several records- including an all-star game attendance mark of 35,472- were set. Alworth's two TD passes and Cappelletti's three field goals, as well as Gino's 46-yarder for length, go into the tally sheets as firsts.
Buffalo Coach Joel Collier had a first, too. It was his debut as a head coach, replacing the suddenly collegiate Lou Saban. An exceptionally nice man, Joel agreed that he was roughly handled, but said he enjoyed it.
"I got a little jump on the head coaching." he said. "I enjoyed the week."
Without protesting, he also allowed there should be some changes made in the new Champs-vs-Stars formula. Gillman had insisted that limited defenses- no blitzing and no zone coverage- be adopted as in past All-Star games.
"I think they'll have to change the ground rules," Collier said.
“It handicaps the established team in which most of your success is based upon a variety of uses of your people. Unless you have 11 stars on the field, as the opposition does, you need your best systems, the things which have made your team functional all season."
He hopes someone- possibly Bills' owner Ralph Wilson- will bring the matter up at the AFL winter meetings which start tomorrow. He said he will not.
The All-Stars dominated field, after the intermission, rolling up 398 yards of total offense to 298 for Buffalo. The Stars controlled the ball 76 plays to 54 and ran up 26 first downs to 12 for the champions.
Hadl threw 25 passes and completed 12 in the first half and Namath drilled six for 10 in the second. Joe had 89 yards to John's 168, but the Bronx Beaut went where the points are counted. Lincoln and Lowe carried the ball 21 times between them for 99 of the All-Star total of 168 rushing yards, and Gilchrist was outspokenly bitter about it.
"The players voted me to the all-league team and it's usual that the voted team members start." he said. ''Sid worked me out mostly on the field-goal team, blocking, and it was pretty evident early in the week I was going to be in there from time to time.
Daniels carried only three times for 13 yards and caught two passes for 11. He was not overjoyed, either.
Briefly, the games major drives were these:
Gogalak’s first field goal came from the 20 when a nine play drive stalled.
Then the All-Stars move to the Buffalo 20 stalled, and lined up for a field goal kick. Boston center Jon Morris centered the ball high and Hadl dropped it, safety George Saimes scooped it up and sprinted 69 yards for a 10-0 Buffalo lead after Gogalak’s PAT.
Cappelletti boomed his 46 yarder, Gogolak an 11-yarder and Gino got another shot in from 14 yards and it looked like that kind of day.
Dave Grayson of the Oakland Raiders picked off a pass, for one thing, and that led to Cappy's third field goal from 32 yards and the All-Stars were back in it 13-9.
Namath, teamed now with Lowe and Lincoln, kept the pressure on. After taking over a Buffalo punt, he took them 57 yards in seven plays to move into a 16-13 command.
Joe passed to Lincoln for 14, to which add five for a concurrent holding penalty. Then it was Lowe for 8, Lowe for 18, Lincoln for two short jaunts again aided by five from the officials, and Lowe had two cracks at it from the Buffalo 2. The strong and limber Lowe bent the line back smack into big Tom Day and Tracey for the score.
Another Jack Kemp pass went astray- he had three interceptions and paid a price for each- to Frank Buncom, Charger linebacker named the defensive player of the game to share honors with Namath, named for offense.
Namath, on second down, found Alworth on the streak and it was 23-13.
An interception by Nick Buoniconti on the Stars' 45 as the fourth quarter started did Kemp in. Namath worked them down to the 10 in eight plays and drilled it to Alworth’s middle to cap a 55 yard drive, in which Gilchrist finally got to carry the ball. He isn’t bad.
Gillman was high in praise of the Oakland delegation of Daniels, Grayson, Jim Otto and Wayne Hawkins.
San Diego's Paul Lowe carries against the Bills.
Jack Kemp leaps to pass as he is stalked by Earl Faison of San Diego.