Bright men often are touched with eloquence at such moments. So listen as Jimmy Murray, their general manager, quietly describes the Philadelphia Eagles' most important victory in 20 years as "a sharing kind of day."
The Eagles' 20-7 success over Dallas for the NFC championship today was as much a total team effort as anyone may ever have seen, or ever will. An Eagle who scarely could walk as late as Thursday ran for more than twice as much yardage as every Cowboy inside Veterans Stadium. And the best offense in the conference was clawed into submission by a spectacular collection of no-name birds.
To get the best peg on why Wilbert Montgomery ran to more daylight today than many runners see in a month, join one of his escorts at halftime in the Eagle dressing room. Left tackle Stan Walters is lying, mummy-like, on a training table, and moaning:
"Why? Why in the biggest game of my career, the moment I've waited for all my life is this happening? Why has this damn back gone and done such a thing now? Can the dream be gone on such a fluky thing?"
It can. But it wouldn't today. Walters and the Eagle offensive line caused enough commotion on its second play from scrimmage to spring Montgomery to his easiest-ever 42-yard touchdown run. Some of the Cowboys got a decent look at Montgomery, but none of them even touched him most of the way.
"That's exactly what we'd hoped to do," Walters said. "We (the blockers) had been challenged by (Coach Dick) Vermeil to match up with their front four, because that was the Dallas strength. If we could do a job on them, even neutralize 'em, everything would go well."
All was going well until early in the second quarter, when Walters all of a sudden was being half-carried off the field.
"Something had happened on a quick-screen pass earlier," he said. "A couple of plays later (after a two-yard gain over center by Montgomery), I got a shot on the (right) thigh. My back and right leg went numb."
Walters went to the sideline, and minutes later to the dressing room. Somebody named Steve Kenney went in to replace him and Harvey Martin almost immediately became a lethal factor. With so many key players already wounded, the Eagles could not be expected to survive with their best blocker out the rest of the game.
He came back, because his back went numb twice. Once was after that shot by Cowboy linebacker D. D. Lewis. The second came after two shots of novocaine. Walters started the second half and Martin was seldom seen again. Having run for an astonishing 111 yards the first half, the Eagles ran for 152 the second half.
Before today, nobody had gained 100 yards rushing on the Cowboys in a playoff game. Montgomery had 96 by halftime and finished with 194. Even stubby fullback Leroy Harris outgained Tony Dorsett. Touchdown Tony today was reduced to being Turnover Tony, losing two fumbles and dropping one vital third-down pass.
"Why did we run so well?" the other Eagle offensive tackle, Jerry Sisemore, asked. He fairly spit out the question again, then yelled: "We ran because we wanted to. We made up our minds we'd take it to 'em. And the closer we got (to winning), the stronger we got."
"We wanted it badder," said reserve guard Ron Baker -- and anyone who clears out Randy White a few times is allowed to fracture the language any way he chooses. And boast: "The Cowboys couldn't handle our crowd. They couldn't handle the cold.
"That was obvious."
It was obvious to some of the more perceptive Cowboy watchers that America's Team might be as flat as America's Economy.
One official, well into his second day of worrying, muttered two hours before the opening kickoff: "If I call my wife once more she'll divorce me." b
It was the Eagles, not often even Philadelphia's Team as they stumbled through most of the '70s, who were confident. They were ailing at wide receiver -- and Montgomery reinjured his tender knee during a workout Wednesday. They were mentally strong, having in their own minds fully grabbed the underdog role all teams cherish.
"A strange feeling," Walters said. "Very calm. I actually slept soundly last night. I didn't know what to make of it. Does such a feeling mean I'll get killed? Or does it mean I'll play well?"
"I woke up at 5 a.m.," said Guy Morriss, "and I got it in my mind that we could intimidate 'em if we came at 'em hard, if we were physical.So we got after 'em quick. Out-physicaled 'em."
The offensive line was the heart of this Eagle team today in ways not quickly clear. For the most part, it contains players who have been Ealges the longest -- and thus have suffered more humiliation in past seasons.
"First time in nine years for me," Walters said. "Who knows how much longer I might have to wait for something like it again? That's why I had to get back in. Actually, the back hurt more getting down into my stance than after I got there.
"Once I got there, I could fire out. And also set up to pass block. The longer the drive took the looser I'd feel. I had one dumb thought: 'What if the back just freezes on me, locks completely? What if a whole play goes off and I can't move at all?
"'what if they have to come out and carry me off? Literally, like a stiff?'"
The Eagles were a team for a Philadelphians' dreams today. Basic and brutal.
"A hard thing to put into words," Murray said, a moment before he found them. "This is an emotional team, an emotional town. Today, this team put a pretty big emotion on this town."