by Doug Thiel
Sunrise Publishing Inc.
GETTING ready for the Rams prodded some sports minds into action about trades. It sure doesn’t take long—just two preseason games. The real expert on that now is George Allen, but in 1976 Patera could only comment, “Zorn has looked the best so far but after the Chicago game we’ll have to reevaluate. If this were the regular season we’d be saying, ‘Who will we start in the game?’” Jack concluded his comments reminiscing, “I first heard it said when I was in Baltimore, ‘We’ll tolerate you until we replace you.’ “ That’s easy to say when you have an established team with ready-to-go backup players. So far nothing has been easy— way down the road it doesn’t look much better. Welcome to Seattle Mr. Chuck Knox and your L.A. Rams.

This third pre-season game would be started by Jim Zorn at quarterback, his second start of the pre-season. So far he’s completed 21 of 45 passes for 304 yards and rushed 6 times for 57 yards. That’s just fine for a new quarterback on a new team with a new coach. Perhaps this time the line will hold a bit better, the defense will be tighter, and the plays run a bit more smoothly. Anyway, that’s what is supposed to happen. Eddie McMillan and Ken Geddes, both former Rams, hope to beat their ex-mates—third time charm and all.

The Rams came to town 63 players strong, had a 2—0 pre-season record, an overall 34-8 record under coach Chuck Knox, and told press that they’d be playing “. . . a lot of people.” Since they were at least two good players deep at every position in addition to rookies whom they wanted to see, there wouldn’t be much gambling on Knox’s part—not loaded dice but close to it.

Before the pre-season games began sports writers were picking the Rams as Super Bowl contenders. On August 14th they did look like they had a chance. The Seahawks continued to wait until late in the game to do their scoring. The 16—3 loss looked close in the morning papers, but the Hawks didn’t score until there was 9:33 left in the fourth quarter. Always coming late to dinner, the Seahawks in three games, scored 39 of their 49 points total in the fourth quarter.

If you wait long enough in the Mojave Desert, it will rain. Play enough games and you’ll finally win. But really, the wait hadn’t been that long. The Seahawks beat San Diego 17—16, close and a cigar for Jim Zorn the quarterback, Jack Patera the coach, and a very happy team, coaching staff, and front office.

There was excitement—Gary Hayman ran a kick back for 96 yards. The Seahawks scored first, and that had never happened before. The first score was also the first time the Hawks had ever led in a game. Records, records, records, and so young a team.

Seattle held San Diego on the one yard line four plays in a row. Don Bitterlich kicked a field goal that was brushed by a linebacker and just barely made it over. Jim Zorn mentioned that he was ready to blow on the ball to give it more altitude. And once again the dramatics were played during the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

With two minutes left San Diego led 16—10. Here we go again. Seattle fans were hoping that for once the Seahawk offense would ride over the hill and rescue the score! They did, but San Diego helped.

On their own 31 yard line San Diego tried a fourth down kick, but the ball came back a bit high—too high for Mitch Hoopes to kick it in time. He was tackled on his 21 yard by Randy Coffield.

After five plays the Hawks had worked their way to the three yard line. With very little time left, Zorn hit tight end Ron Howard for a touchdown to tie the score 16-16. The PAT was good and the Seahawks won first football game 17—16.

There was, however, a bit of strategy concocted by coach Patera. With the ball nearly in the San Diego end zone, the Seahawks Iet the clock run and keep running until the last moment. Fans screamed at Patera and shouted what fools he and his team were. Hold it there.

After Seattle scored its last touchdown to take the lead, the Chargers managed to the ball back to the Seahawk 30 yard line as the gun happily announced the end contest.

In spite of all the football experiences in the stands, the man hired to run the team does do the things which at first notice, seem to be just idiotic—like running the clock down as the ball is about to fall over the goal line. The twenty seconds which Seattle chose to give to the gods probably saved the game for them.

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