Perhaps misplaced in the hustle and bustle of Sunday's 34-17 Ram victory over the Green Bay Packers was the work of import quarterback Dieter Brock, who may finally be making people realize that there is more to Canada than hearty beer and a devalued dollar.
While wide receiver Ron Brown dazzled spectators with three touchdowns, two of them on long kickoff returns, and running back Eric Dickerson ran for 150 yards and a touchdown, Brock, a product of the Canadian Football League, put together a quiet and unassuming day that required just 19 passes. Fifteen of them became completions, and another two were dropped by Ram receivers.
So what, said Coach John Robinson, if the 15 completions totaled 150 yards. What did it matter that until his 39-yard touchdown pass to Brown in the fourth quarter, Brock didn't have a completion longer than 18 yards. Remember that this is the Ram offense. The Rams, for the most part, run first and pass only under court order.
Robinson's offensive philosophy makes Brock's performance Sunday even more impressive. Limited opportunities and maximum results.
"I think ideally we would like to, from an academic standpoint, we would like to put the ball up deep a couple of times," said Robinson. "But we were getting quite a bit of room in front of our receivers."
So Brock chipped away at the Packers and left the Anaheim Stadium field with a victory and his fifth game without an interception. For the season, Brock now has about a 60% completion rate.
There's more, Robinson said.
"He's playing with a tube inside of him about (six inches) long," Robinson said. "He never talks about it. I was walking out with him and I said, 'How you doing?' And he says, "I'll be glad to get this thing out of me. It makes me sick to my stomach all the time. Half the time I'm out there I feel like vomiting.'
"It's not as though he's exactly 100%," Robinson said.
Doctors removed the drainage tube, necessary because of Brock's recent kidney stone surgery, Monday. Brock didn't attend any of the team meetings, but will return for Wednesday's workout.
Despite the Ram record, 9-3 after a midseason slump, and Brock's part in the successes, Robinson still finds himself defending his quarterback. After Sunday's game, Robinson visited the Stadium Club, where he mingles with Ram fans after each home game. He discovered yet another critic of Brock.
"I go up to the stadium club and they have 200 or 300 drunks there that I have a chance to talk to," said Robinson. "It's always fun and I enjoy the people. This one guy says, 'Gawd, he's (Brock) short and he can't scramble. And I don't think he dumps the ball to the other receivers enough and he gets stuck on the primary receiver. Gawd.'
"It wasn't a question," Robinson said. "It was an exclamation: 'Why is he so short? Why can't he run?'
"I said, 'Wait a minute. There's another side to that coin. Look what he did and look how competitive he's been and look at the game he played.'
"I think people begin to think of that position as being, looking for the prototype as being Superman. They really get caught in that. Like, 'Why can't Joe Montana throw deep?'
"Because he throws so many touchdowns short.
"The guy was great," Robinson said. "The guy said it with so much passion, 'Why is he so short? Why isn't he 6-5. Why does he hold the ball so long? Why doesn't he throw it fast?' "
Asked if he was equally as passionate, Robinson said: "I beat him pretty good. But it was fun and he was a good guy. He was honest, he was feeling this: 'Why don't we get a perfect quarterback who can do everything?'
"I think there will be a point where people will begin to look at (Brock) and say, 'Look what this guy is doing here. Look at his record. He's 9-2 in the NFL his first year. And nothing has gone well around him and he's played to this level.' Or maybe they never will," Robinson said.
Ram Notes As far as John Robinson is concerned, the newest threat to the all-pro status of receiver-punt returner Henry Ellard plays for the Rams. "His chief rival in making the Pro Bowl will probably be Ron Brown," Robinson said. Earlier this season, as Brown struggled with an undiagnosed case of pancreatitis, Robinson remembered a conversation with Brock. "I used to say, 'Boy, we got this guy, Ron Brown, and you're really going to like him. Boy, you'll love this guy.' And he'd go, 'Right. You mean the guy out there running the 5-flat (40-yard dash)?' "