Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Avellini from the University of Maryland caused the Chicago Bears so much concern last season that they hired a special quarter-back coach to help him this year, Sid Gillman.
Avellini got into a pitcher's battle tonight with Joe Namath of the Los Angeles Rams and at the finish the comparison was, indeed, odious.
Avellini picked apart the highly favored Rams for three touchdown passes, running back Walter Payton ran 51 yards in the fourth quarter to set up a 33-yard field goal by Bob Thomas and the Bears won, 24-23.
But the Bears were leading by eight points when Namath left the game with one minute and 48 seconds remaining. Pat Haden relieved the 34-year-old Namath after he had taken a severe blow to the chest from the rowdy defenders and Haden threw the Rams' only touchdown pass.
It went to wide receiver Dwight Scales with 27 seconds remaining.
Namath came out bombing and set up three field goals by Rafael Septien and a two-yard touchdown plunge by Lawrence McCutcheon for a 16-14 lead at halftime.
But the Bears' defensive pressure got to him, he was intercepted four times, and the Rams were blanked for all but those 27 seconds of the last 30 minutes.
At the finish Namath was being manhandled by the charging Bears, flattened before releasing the ball, sacked twice. He was a sorrowful figure on his last play, sandwiched between linebacker Raymond Bryant and defensive tackle Jim Osborne.
Dennis Harrah of the Rams might not have done as much to protect Namath as a football player but, he became so alarmed about Namath's predicament as he lay on the ground that he pulled off Bryant and took a shot at him.
That's when coach Chuch Knox was moved to bring on reserve quarterback Haden, who took the Rams into the NFC championship game last year as a rookie.
The Rams are 2-2 and hardly looking like the preseason favorite to return to the playoffs with Namath in the command slot.
The Bears received a great morale boost with this victory as a rank underdog after having lost their previous two games to New Orleans and St.Louis.
Namath completed only eight of 23 passes in the first half, 16 of 40 at the end, for 203 yards.
Avellini wound up with 11 completions on 17 attempts, did a better job of avoiding any sacks with much less protection, had but one interception as he accounted for 219 yards with his arm and ran for 32 yards on six carries.
Payton wound up with 216 yards in 24 carries but most of it came in the second half whe he finally got off his 51-yard run.
Avellini had to rise above 15 penalties against the Bears, totaling 114 yards and three lost fumbles, one by himself.
Yet, he outbombed Namath, throwing 70 and 72 yards to wide receiver James Scott for touchdowns in the first and second quarters and 29 to tight end Greg Latta in the final period for the touchdown that won the game.
Credit Jack Pardee with some forsight there.Latta played for Pardee's Florida Blazers in the World Football League and the coach knew he could count in the clutch on a guy who even gave his best when the pay checks stopped coming in.
Namath said of being hit in the chest and one other time on the head, "I think late hits are terrible. We (the Rams) never went for cheap shots. You start doing that it becomes war. Some teams get away with it. The Rams never try to win that way. If the league looks at the films, they'll see what happened."
He also said that "the wet ball was a problem and so was the wind" in his passing. It rained most of the game and there were gusts of 15 to 25 miles an hour.