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Unitas Leads West to Victory in NFL Pro Bowl

Jan. 12, 1964 - Johnny Unitas, the cool Colt, put on a superb quarterbacking display at L.A Memorial Coliseum today as he picked the East’s defenses apart to give the West a smashing 31-17 victory before 67,242 sun-warmed spectators. The great Baltimore passer completed half of his passes, two for touchdowns, as he captured “Player of the Game” honors for the third time in his seven appearances in this classic. Coach George Halas’s Western Division All-Stars cracked the game wide open in the third period with two quick touchdowns after leading 14-3 at the half. It was not until midway through the final quarter that coach Allie Sherman’s Eastern delegation could break through for a touchdown after the West’s tough defense had held it at bay, led by ends Gino Marchetti of the Colts and Doug Atkins of the Bears. They and the rest of the West line made life miserable for the East’s two quarterbacks, Charley Johnson of the Cardinals and Norm Snead of the Redskins. Their constant pressure led to a pair of interceptions, one by Jesse Whittenton of the Packers, which gave the West its third touchdown.

After the game, coach Halas said: “I told these fellows before the game that they represented the greatest composite football team ever assembled. Then I told them to go out and prove it before that big crowd and those 50 million television viewers. Well, the score speaks for itself.” Unitas was utterly exhausted, and for 10 minutes sat in his cubicle, head resting on his forearms, before beginning to undress. When notified that he had been named the No. 1 player, Unitas said: “It’s a great honor, and I’m appreciative, but it should’ve gone to Jim Taylor.” Not until the final quarter did Jim Brown of Cleveland, the NFL’s leading ground gainer, catch up with Taylor, Packer fullback, in their personal duel for rushing honors. Brown collected 101 yards in 15 carries and two touchdowns, Taylor 98 in 14 and one TD. Told of Unitas’s sentiments, Taylor modestly objected, saying: “Unitas deserved to be picked No. 1. He had it all the way. His big secret is knowing how to attack the enemy’s weaknesses.” It was just a year ago that Taylor was hospitalized in Los Angeles with hepatitis — three days before he was slated to perform for the West.



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