The Baltimore Colts unveiled a new offense that featured four wide receivers today and quarterback Bert Jones responded with three touchdown passes, the last with 44 seconds to play as the Colts defeated the New York Jets for the second time in four weeks, 35-21, at Memorial Stadium.
The victory evened Baltimore's record at 2-2 and dropped the struggling Jets, guilty of all sorts of tactical and judgment errors, to 0-4.
Baltimore's other victory this season was 17-14 victory over the Jets in Shea Stadium in the season's first game.
To cover for their weaknesses in their secondary, the Jets often used six defensive backs. To take advantage of it, the Colts went with their four wide receivers, creating serious problems for the inexperienced Jets.
Jones completed 18 of 25 passes for 275 yards and most of the completions went to his wide receivers, many of them for sizable gains. He hit Roger Carr with a 43-yarder to set up one score and Raymond Butler with a 42-yarder to set up another.
Jones usually like to dump off passes to his backs. Not today. Of his 18 completions, four were to backs, and they accounted for only 46 yards. Half of that yardage came on a screen pass to Joe Washington.
"They were taking away our backs as receivers, so we had to adjust, "Jones said.
Randy burke, who saw considerable playing time because of the new alignment, responded with four catches for 60 yards and a touchdown.
"We went to the four wide receiver lineup, as a changeup," he said. "No one had ever seen us do that before. It really opens things up, in terms of what you can do, but it also limits the amount of time you have to do it."
Since the Jets failed to pressure Jones, he usually had the time he needed.
The Jets are struggling. Their strength is the long passing game with sprinter-receivers Wesley Walker and Johnny (Lam) Jones. But Walker has been hurt most of the season, and, with no Jet running game to speak of, Jones hasn't been able to break loose. He did grab a 55-yarder and a 30-yarder today, however, to set up New York's first two touchdowns.
Jet quarterback Richard Todd, who threw 60 passes last week in a loss to San Francisco, completed just 16 of 37 today for 240 yards as the Jets tried desperatelay to establish a running game. Once they fell behind, 14-0, that game plan lost some of its effectiveness and the Jets were at the Colts' mercy.
The Colts marched right down the field and scoped on their first possession, Washington getting the score on a five-yard jitterbugging run.
The Jets put together an impressive drive of their own on their next possession and when it stalled at the Colt 13, Pat Leahy kicked a 30-yard field goal.
Colt defensive end Fred Cook was offside, though, and the Jets took their three points off the board, accepted the penalty and had a first down at the Colt eight.
After the game, Jet Coach Walt Michaels said he never wanted to accept the offside penalty.
"I don't know why the referee did what he did," an angry Michaels said. "I never take points off the board."
Referee Fred Wyant said after the game he had been told by Tom Newton, the Jets' special teams captain, that he Jets accepted the penalty, but Newton was not on the field at the time.