Bert Jones, No. 7 in the Colts program but No. 1 in the hearts of Baltimore, took the field yesterday for the first time in a 1978 regular season game.
But those moments were too few as Jones finished a spectator, watching with 46.919 fans the Colts suffer their fifth defeat in seven games, as the New York Jets breezed, 33-10.
Jones brought the crowed to its feet when he ran on the field with 10:40 remaining in the first quarter. But he left them groaning when he yielded to backup Bill Troup with less than 30 seconds left in the quarter.
That was on the sixth play after Jones had been sacked by blitzing right linebacker Bob Martin and had reinjured the right shoulder separated in the Colts' final preseason game.
"I think the shoulder was just bruised," said Colt Coach Ted Marchibroda after the game. "Bert took himself out, saying he just couldn't throw anymore."
However, the Colt quarterback was swell when he was well, completing his first five passes and having the sixth attempt dropped by Joe Washington.
"He threw great, as hard and well as I've ever seen him throw," said Roger Carr, who caught a fine 26-yard toss from Jones on the right sideline.
Following a Pat Leahy field goal on the Jets' first possession, Jones took the Colts 47 yards as he completed all three of his passes. But the drive stalled on the Jets 19 when Don McCauley was stopped for no gain on fourth and one foot.
The Jets then needed just three plays to score, with Matt Robinson passing to wide receiver Wesley Walker, who had gotten behind two Colt defenders, for a 77-yard touchdown to make it 10-0.
On the Colts' next series, Jones ran for 14 yards on one carry and Washington for 26 more to move the Colts to a First down at the Jet 28. On second down, Martin's blind-side sack of Jones caused a fumble that was recovered by New York's Lawrence Pillers.
Baltimore held and got the ball back. On the Colts' second play, Jones threw his first incompletion and final pass of the day. Troup replaced him on the next play to a chorus of boos.
Troup completed three of his first four passes for a paltry 11 yards before his 12th interception, the first of three against the Jets. Burgess Owens 45-yard return set up kevin Long's 10-yard touchdown scamper on the next play for a 17-0 Jet advantage.
"I started out bad and didn't get much better," said a disconsolate Troup. "The quarterback's job is to win the game. I think we have a championship caliber team but I'm not a championship caliber quarterback."
The Colts fell apart after Jones' departure, managing a total net thereafter of munus-eight yards for the remainder of the half.
"We have to have more of a realization on the team that we must win without Bert," said Marchibrods. "We've got to be able to win some games, 7-0, or 7-3."
The Colts did not do much defensively to boost Marchibroda's hopes. Jet receivers continually got behind double coverage by the Colts, who were fortunate not to have had more points scored against them.
Long rushed for 136 of the Jets' 204 yards and Walker caught five passes for 154 more as the visitors rang up 403 total yards.
Washington continued to improve for the Colts, rushing 16 times for 85 yards an adpulling down seven passes for 59 yards.
"We may make some defensive change during the week," said Marchibroda. "But you can't replace all 11 men."
And, it seems obvious, he can't replace just one.