AFC 26



January 23, 1972

By Al Larson

Long Beach Press-Telegram


"I had what you would call a miserable game that was the difference," quarterback Roger Staubach said.


It had been an embarrassing afternoon in which Jan Stenerud kicked four field goals and the American Conference All-Stars registered a surprising 26- 13 decision over the NFC in Pro Bowl XXII Sunday.


Staubaeh, who made 'em forget the Alamo in Texas while leading Dallas to the Super Bowl championship, completed only one of six passes. In addition, Roger had two intercepted and was trapped five times attempting to pass for 47 yards in losses.


Ouch. Or, if you're an AFC fan, ole!


A crowd of 53,647 was on hand at the Coliseum for the last hurrah of a stretched out 1971 season in which some of the old go-go-go spirit was lacking.


"I kinda redeemed myself," Stenerud said after tying Bert Rechichar's Pro Bowl record of four field goals


"I heard some people in the stands saying, 'What are you doing in this game? and I had some thoughts about that myself after I missed that second field goal."


Stenerud missed two first quarter attempts from 38 and 28 yards- the first partially blocked by Detroit's Mike Lucci- before succeeding on kicks from 25, 23, 48 and 42 yards.


The five-year pro from Montana State missed two field goals last month which would have given Kansas City an AFC playoff victory over Miami.


The AFC also avenged a 27-6 loss to the NFC in last year's first Pro Bowl since the merger.


Stenerud's last fielder gave the AFC a 19-6 advantage, but San Francisco's Vic Washington scored on a two-yard run and the NFC trailed by only six points with almost eight minutes left.


However, the AFC clinched the victory with a 73-yard, 12-play march, all on the ground. Miami's Mercury Morris gained 38 yards on six carries in the drive that climaxed with Floyd Little of Denver scoring the touchdown on a six-yard run.


"Great kickers can miss two or three and they're still dangerous," said NFC coach Dick Nolan of San Francisco.


Nolan said his team played "reasonably well" for the amount of time- one week- it had to prepare for the game.


"I thought Roger called good plays but he didn't have enough time to throw," Nolan pointed out.


"We couldn't get field position early and when we finally did we couldn't move the ball consistently. I thought our defense played well until the last drive."


"The way I played this game it certainly was anti-climactic," said Staubach.


"After our Super Bowl win, this game won't make me complacent. I can't remember when I had two interceptions in a game. I will start working out for next season real soon."


The AFC broke the game open in the third quarter with 13 points, Morris taking the second-half kickoff 61 yards before Stenerud kicked a 23-yard field goal.


Ted Hendricks of Baltimore intercepted a Staubach pass to set up Stenerud's third field goal and a 36-yard punt by Dallas' Ron Widby instigated a 39-yard TD drive, capped by Len Dawson's five-yard pass to Milt Morin.


Bob Griese completed 8 of 16 passes for 116 yards with no interceptions playing the first half of the game. Dawson was 3-of-9 for 33 yards with one theft in the second half.


Oakland's Marv Hubbard was the game's leading rusher with 57 yards in 10 carries. The AFC outgained the NFC on the ground, 183 yards to 70.


Staubach was the NFC's No. 1 rusher with 27 yards in four scrambles. Greg Landry of Detroit, who fired a 50-yard scoring strike to Minnesota's Bob Grim for the day's first scoring play in the second period, was 6-of-11 for 122 yards with one intercept.


The attempted conversion after Grim's scoring catch was blocked by Bubba Smith after a five-yard penalty.


Sunday's game also was a vindication for Morris, Miami's chunky scatback who was limited to only kickoffs in the Super Bowl


"The coach (Baltimore's Don McCafferty) didn't have to give me the chance to play at running back with the likes of (Leroy) Kelly and Little playing. I appreciate it. . . the chance to prove that I'm a runner. I love the game and I love to play."


Morris carried the ball seven times for 55 yards, 7.8 yards per crack.


McCafferty said, "I'm proud of our guys. I'm getting tired of this NFC-AFC jazz. We put a few things together at half time and were able to run in the second half.


"I wasn't surprised by how well our defense did, considering the talent we have. A coach gets up for every game or he doesn't belong in the business," McCafferty cracked.


Dallas' all-pro defensive tackle Bob Lilly said, "I thought Lenny (Dawson) did a fine job. You can do what you want to when you get ahead. I thought Morris was a fine runner. I hate to see someone like Merlin Olsen (knee) get hurt in a game like this. With him out of there, it didn't give Alan Page any rest."


"One thing about this game- everyone will forget it in a couple of days," said Staubach. "If we had lost the Super Bowl no one would have let me forget it for a long time."


"It was a pleasure to play with this defensive line," Lucci said. "There are a lot of super players and a lot of super guys here."


Landry: "On my pass to Grim, they were playing bump and run. It can make you look bad but you can strike for the bomb occasionally and that's what we were trying to do. Grim gave it a little juke and took off."


Guard Tom Mack of the Rams: "Merlin and I drove to the game today and it's funny but I told him the only thing I hoped was no one would get hurt."


Jan Stenerud was voted the offensive MVP. His teammate from KC, Willie Lanier, was the defensive MVP. The 1972 Pro Bowl would mark the last year that two MVP awards were presented until 2014.


Each member of the winning squad received $2,000 and the losers $1,500, something to help pay the taxes on 1972 incomes.


The Pro Bowl game is anchored in Los Angeles one more year before NFL owners decide whether to float it to other cities. The present contract expires after 1973.


Good grief, the next season is just around the corner. You may fire when ready, Gridley.


Kansas City's Jan Stenerud was the game's MVP with four field goals.


Cleveland's Leroy Kelly tries to escape Chuck Howley of Dallas in the second period.



Pro Bowl quarterbacks, Bob Griese and Roger Staubach.

1971 1973