Bert Jones completed 67 per cent of his 30 passes today and Lydell Mitchell ran for 90 yards and had seven receptions as the Baltimore Colts edged the Buffalo Bills, 17-14.
The Colts held O. J. Simpson to 52 yards on 16 carries.
Some of the Colts were shouting "3-0 . . . whew!" as they trotted into the dressing room at Memorial Stadium.
Yet, coach Ted Marchibroda found himself defending success.
Did he think the Colts looked good against a Bills team that is now 0-3?
"We had a lot of adversity to overcome," Marchibroda said referring to five Colts unable to play because of injuries, wide receivers Roger Carr and Glenn Doughty, fullback Roosevelt Leaks, defensive tackle Joe Erhmann and cornerback Lloyd Mumphord.
"Last week you asked if I thought we played well against a team like the New York Jets (who upset the New England Patriots today). You let me know when we play an easy team. Two years ago you would have been happy if we came close. I think we did a good job holding Buffalo to 14 points. The important thing is, we are 3-0".
The Colts scored twice in the second period, on a nine-yard touchdown run by fullback Ron Lee at the end of an 87-yard push and on a 45-yard field goal by Toni Linhart.
In the third quarter, the Colts drove 50 yards, scoring on a 15-yard screen pass by Jones to running back Don McCauley.
The Bills scored in the second quarter on a 15-yard touchdown pass by Joe Ferguson to wide receiver Bob Chandler to finish off a 55-yard thrust.
Early in the fourth period, the Bills scored on a freakish 12-yard touchdown pass from Ferguson to running back Curtis Brown, who had wrestled the ball away from free safety Lyle Blackwood in the end zone. Ed Simonini and Tom MacLeod tipped the ball before it got to Brown.
With 11 seconds remaining, the Bills got down to the Colts' 39-yard line, but time ran out before they could try for the tying field goal. They had taken their first time-out nine seconds before the automatic two-minute time-out.
Their other two time-outs were used up with 45 seconds and 37 seconds to go.
There was some special strategy the Colts thought had much to do with winning the game. Since Simpson frequently runs to the weak side when the Bills are in a slot formation to the other side, defensive coordinator Maxie Baughan positioned Colt strong safety Bruce Laird virtually on the line of scrimmage to key on Simpson.
It is when Simpson crosses the line of scrimmage that he is generally most effective.
Simpson said afterward that a previously injured ankle was "just about 100 per cent" today.
"We thought we could run outside and pass on the Colts." Simpsonsaid, "but they played good defense. And we were hurt byturnovers."