Jan. 12, 1969 Miami
Jets Shock Colts in Super Bowl, 16-7
By Dave Brady
MIAMI, Jan. 12 The New York Jets exposed the myth of National Football League superiority over the "little league" as a colossal fraud today by inflicting a 16-7 disaster on the Baltimore Colts in the third Super Bowl game.
Midnight struck for Cinderella quarterback Earl Morrall of the Colts and even Johnny Unitas could not deliver in the clutch.
But Matt Snell of the Jets made a mockery of a defense Baltimore Coach Don Shula called the "best I ever saw" and Broadway Joe Namath wheeled and dealed with near perfection.
For the eighth time this season Namath won a game without completing a touchdown pass. He completed 17 of 28 throws for 206 yards although he did not toss a pass in the entire fourth quarter as he drove the humiliated Baltimore defenders to desperation with his clock consumption.
It was the Jets' defense, best in the American Football League, which dominated the contest and chased a baffled Morrall out with 3 minutes and 58 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The Jets intercepted four passes, three against Morrall in the second period, and Namath capitalized on the emotional pickup of the first one by taking the Jets 80 yards for a touchdown with fullback Snell hammering over from four yards out.
Jim Turner kicked 32- and 30-yard field goals in the third quarter before Unitas replaced Morrall and a nine-yarder in the fourth period that dictated catch-up football for the Colts the rest of the way.
Unitas needed 14 plays and two personal-foul penalties against the Jets to take the Colts 80 yards for a touchdown on a one-yard plunge by fullback Jerry Hall.
That came with 3:19 left in the game and the Colts raised a roar among the stunned sellout crowd of 75,377 in the Orange Bowl when they recovered an ensuing onside kickoff at the New York 44-yard line.
Unitas, the 35-year-old quarterback who sat out most of the season with a sore arm after taking the Colts to two NFL championships in his 12-season career, hit on three straight passes, two to flanker Willie Richardson and one to split end Jimmy Orr, to threaten at the Jets' 19-yard line.
But a former teammate, cornerback Johnny Sample, broke up a throw to Richardson with some rough treatment and left end Gerry Philbin and left tackle Paul Rochester dumped Unitas as he threw the ball away when his receivers were covered. On fourth down, Unitas threw high and far in the wrong direction as Orr was in the end zone.
Taking over with 2:21 remaining, Namath used Snell on all six running plays and took two penalties for delaying the game before having Curley Johnson punt the ball to the agonizing Colts with only 15 seconds remaining.
Unitas managed to complete one of two passes from his 34-yard line, to Richardson for 15 yards, as the gun barked the end of the NFL's supremacy in this event after two one-sided victories by the Green Bay Packers.
For Coach Weeb Ewbank the flouting of the 17 1/2-point spread against his Jets was especially satisfying. He was adding the Super Bowl triumph as an AFL coach to two NFL championships as coach of the Colts.
And he was wreaking a sort of vengeance over critics who wondered if he was able to control players such as Namath, Snell and halfback Emerson Boozer, whom he had fined only Monday.
For Shula it was a tragic fate. With a team that had won a record 15 games in one NFL season and had humiliated the Cleveland Browns by 34-0 two weeks ago, he once more fed fuel to those who have said he cannot win the big games.
In 1964, his heavily favored Colts were embarrassed by the Browns, 27-0, for the NFL championship. The next season, the Colts were beaten by Green Bay, 13-10, in a sudden-death playoff for the Western Conference title. In 1967, the Colts were unbeaten in their first 13 games but lost their finale to Los Angeles, 34-10, and the Coastal Division title with it.
Morrall, who won the NFL passing title with 57.4 completion percentage and was voted the league's Most Valuable Player, failed Shula today. He completed only 6 of 17 passes for 71 yards although he was never thrown for a loss. Unitas hit on 11 of 24 throws for 110 yards and averted a shutout of the Colts for the first time since the Chicago Bears did it, 13-0, on Dec. 5, 1965.
Snell Gains 121 Yards
Namath crossed up the Colts with his emphasis on a running game that was not supposed to be able to match that given Baltimore by halfback Tom Matte and Hill. Matte did gain 116 yards on 11 carries, but half of it came on a 58-yard dash to the Jets 17 in the second quarter.
Nor was All-NFL tight end John Mackey too much for the Jets' suspect secondary to handle. He caught only three passes. Morrall threw behind him once, but Mackey also dropped a pass on Morrall.
Richardson caught six passes against Sample for 58 yards but only one was damaging, a 21-yarder to the Jets' 16 that put the Colts in position for their only score.
Maynard Shut Out
Ironically, the Jets' first three interceptions came in what had been the Colts' highest-scoring quarter in NFL play, the second.
They kept the Jets from falling behind early, which would have left Namath a target for an unhesitating pass rush. Instead, he was able to demonstrate that he is a strategist of high order.
Beverly Chief Thief
Morrall appeared to have a touchdown in the bank when he hit unattended tight end Tom Mitchell on his shoulder pads in the end zone, but the ball popped high up in the air and Beverly intercepted. It had a dampening effect on the sputtering Colts, who had taken possession on the Jets' 12 after a driving tackle by Lyles caused Sauer to fumble a pass reception. Linebacker Ron Porter recovered for Baltimore.
After Namath seized on Baltimore's dismay and spirited the Jets 80 yards to a touchdown by intercepting a pass to Richardson at the Jets' two. He caught it while falling on his backside, but he might have been able to return it for considerable yardage if he had not sat there, waving his arms for everyone to see.
Hudson Steals Pass
From the Jets' 41, Morrall handed off to Matte, who sprinted to his right and then lobbed the ball back to Morrall on a "flea flicker" play. Morrall unaccountably threw short to Hill although Orr, alone in the end zone, was frantically begging for the ball.
In the fourth quarter, Unitas moved the Colts 48 yards to the New York 25. He zipped a pass toward Orr in the end zone, but Beverly swooped in and lifted the ball away for an interception.
There was still 11:06 left but Namath made a 16-0 lead more difficult for Unitas to overcome by using up nearly five more minutes before Turner missed a field-goal attempt from 42 yards.
Unitas Rallies Colts
Orr pulled in an 11-yarder to the four-yard line and a personal foul called against linebacker Al Atkinson for piling on moved the ball to the two. On third down, Hill smashed through a big hole at the left tackle for the score from one foot out.
The Jets' 80-yard touchdown drive was powered mostly by Snell, who gained 47 yards in five carries, but Namath completed four of five passes in the push before Snell shook off safety Rick Volk and scored on a giant at the left corner.
Colts' defensive tackle Fred Miller threw a scare into the Jets when he crashed into Namath in the third quarter. Namath suffered an injury to the thumb on his throwing hand and 36-year-old Babe Parilli got to try a third-down pass which was incomplete before Namath came back in the lineup.
Namath at first was reluctant to talk after the game, but not teammate Bake Turner. The substitute split end singled out Pete Rozelle, the former commissioner of the NFL, who now rules all of pro football, and said "Welcome to the American Football League."
Rozelle was not amused, Turner said.