The Baltimore Colts finally won today, the hard way. Pushed all over the Memorial Stadium field the second half, the Colts threw up a gallant goal-line stand from the eight-yard line in the final minutes and escaped with a 10-8 victory over the New York Jets.
The Colts (1-5) grabbed a 10-0 advantage in the first quarter on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Greg Landry to Reese McCall and a 41-yard field goal by Steve Mike-Mayer. The defense then bent but did not break for the next three periods of the AFC East game witnessed by 32,142.
The Colts prevailed when corner-back Dwight Harrison raced over and knocked down in the end zone a Richard Todd pass intended for Scott Dierking on fourth and goal from the Colt four with just over three minutes remaining.
The Colts ran three plays and, after a roughing-the-kicker penalty, ran three more before punter Bucky Dilts ran out of the end zone, conceding a safety with four seconds left.
The Jets' other points were provided on field goals of 18 and 31 yards by Pat Leahy, the second coming with 7:08 left in the third period, bringing the score to 10-6.
"Those four points gnawed at me all the fourth period," said disappointed Lou Michaels, the Jet coach.
The Colt offense, which produced 179 of its 276 total yards in the first half, went to sleep after intermission.
It seemed only a matter of time before Jet quarterback Todd would unload a game-winning bomb to speedster Wesley Walker. The two just missed connecting on a TD pass early in the fourth quarter and everyone knew they would see the play again.
The Jets began their final desperate march from their 23 with 7:49 left. Todd looked for Walker extensively, aiming for his big-play receiver three times in the drive. But Colt corner-backs Harrison and Doug Nettles stuck to Walker like glue; so Todd began finding secondary receivers Derrick Gafiney, tight end Mickey Shuler and tailback Clark Gaines.
Three completions moved the ball to the Baltimore 33. Playing pass all the way, the Colts were almost burned twice as Kevin Long and Gaines threatened to break short runs for touchdowns. Long's run gained 16 yards and Gaines went up the middle for nine yards to the Colt eight.
"They were there and this was no time to get nervous," said Colt linebacker Sanders Shiver. "We either stop them now or lose No. 6."
The Colt defense, which has played well despite the five losses, dug in. Long squeezed out two yards on a run. Todd then went to the air. Gaffney broke toward the corner of the end zone but Nettles recovered, reached back and knocked the ball away.
On third down, Todd dumped a saftey value pass to tight end Bob Raba (Maryland - Whitman High School), who reached the four. That brought up fourth down. The Jets never considered going for an almost sure three points, because, according to Michael, "We would still have to get the ball back and kick another field goal."
Todd, who completed only 12 of 29 for 174 yards and suffered three interceptions, went to a play action call and rolled slightly to his left and threw for Dierking heading for the flag in the left corner.
Harrison, not fooled a bit, came streaking up, slapped the ball down and the Colts took over with 3:08 left.
"That was my area," said Harrison. "He was my man, but I couldn't commit myself until I knew it was a pass play. You have to think run, too. I saw him (Todd) look that way and I came up. I guess someone smiled on me."
Baltimore ran some time off the clock and Dilts came on to punt. The wily kicker got off a short boot but was hit by Jet Donald Dykos, who was called for roughing the kicker with 2:11 left. Baltimore again wasted three downs but this time Dilts took no chances. He took the snap and ran around in the end zone before stepping out to give the Jets a safety with four seconds to play.
"We would have done that on the first punt," said Colt coach Ted Marchibroda, "but they would have got the ball back with too much time on the clock.Everyone on the sideline was making suggestions and thinking out loud. What did I do? I went with what I thought was best."
This time it turned out well. The Jets could do nothing with Steve Mike-Mayer's squib kick.
Michaels, disappointed his high-scoring team (95 points in its last three outings) could not muster a touchdown, said, "Despite the mistakes we still had one more chance. But what happens, we run into the punter."
Baltimore used the pinpoint passing of Greg Landry to take a 10-0 lead. Landry completed 23 of 36 attempts for 235 yards. He directed a 97-yard, 14-play drive for the Colts' only TD. Consecutive passes to Glenn Doughty for 22 yards and Roger Carr for 25 moved the Colts to the Jet five.
A 15-yard penalty assessed against tackle Wade Griffin for his after-the-play aggression against Jet Marty Lyons set the Colts back to the 17. Two plays later Landry drilled a pass to tight end McCall for the score. Mike-Mayer's kick made it 7-0, with 8:02 left in the opening period.
Minutes later, Stan White grabbed a deflected Todd pass and returned it 11 yards to the New York 20. The Jets stiffened and Mike-Mayer came on to boom through a 41-yard field goal to increase the Colt advantage to 10-0, with 2:03 to play.
"We moved the ball pretty good in the first half. We just didn't have it after intermission," said Marchibroda. "We couldn't run against them."
After taking the lead, the Colts didn't or couldn't do much of anything. New York began moving folks around up front and Gaines, Dierking and Long started getting good yardage. Todd also began to throw more. (KEY OFF)(KEYWORD) big part of the Jet offense went to the bench early when end Jerome Barkum was thrown out for fighting with Shiver midway in the second period.
"He hit me in the back of the head," said Shiver. "I didn't retaliate because I had got mine in earlier. He was gone then and it was back to work."
On the next play, Shiver intercepted a Todd pass and returned to the Jet 29. However, Landry's first down pass bounced off the hands of McCall and cornerback Bobby Jackson intercepted at his 10.
Leahy's 18-yard field goal with four seconds left in the second quarter cut the Jet deficit to 10-3.
The Jets (2-4) used 7:08 of the third period before settling for another Leahy three pointer. Baltimore's Fred Cook and Ed Simmonini made a key play on a third and two at the Colt 16 to force the Jets to go for the field goal. The pair ganged up on Tom Newton, stopping him for a yard gain, on the third down call.