Two football teams have been called the Baltimore Colts. The Original Colts started in the All-American Football Conference as the Miami Seahawks in 1946. A group of Baltimore businessmen bought the Seahawks and moved them to Baltimore for the 1947 season, naming them the Colts. In 1950 the Cleveland Browns, the San Francisco 49ers and the Colts joined the NFL from the crumbling AAFC. After a 1-11 year the Colts folded. In 1953 the NFL formed another “Baltimore Colts” team out of the remnants of the failed NFL Dallas Texans (NOT to be confused with Lamar Hunt’s AFL team of the same name formed in 1960). It was this team, the former NFL Texans, that became the team most fans know as the Baltimore Colts. In 1984 this franchise moved to Indianapolis and is now known as the Indianapolis Colts.
The 1958 Baltimore Colts, with legendary QB John Unitas, running backs Lenny Moore and Alan Ameche and wide receiver Raymond Berry, won a 23-17 overtime classic over the New York Giants to claim their first NFL title. The same teams met in the 1959 Championship Game. Again, Baltimore won, this time by a 31-16 margin.
In 1968 the powerful Colts, coached by a very young Don Shula, went 13-1 in the regular season before winning two playoff games and advancing to Super Bowl III. The 15-1 Colts, three touchdown favorites, were stunned by the New York Jets in what Shula called “his darkest moment.” In 1970, the Colts, now coached by Don McCafferty, compiled an 11-2-1 record. They defeated Cincinnati and Oakland to advance to Super Bowl V in the historic Orange Bowl. The Colts stunning loss in Super Bowl III was still fresh in the minds of their players.
This time lady luck smiled on Baltimore. Starting quarterback John Unitas was knocked out of the game in the first half. But back-up QB Earl Morrall came in and took the Colts to two fourth quarter scores and a 16-13 triumph over the Dallas Cowboys. The Colts won despite committing a record SEVEN Super Bowl turnovers. Finally, Unitas, Morrall and the Colts were Super Bowl Champions! The 1972 Colts were a shadow of the team that won Super Bowl V. Baltimore started the season 1-3. Then, while Miami was defeating San Diego in week #5, the Colts were losing 21-0 to the same Dallas Cowboys team they had defeated in Super Bowl V. The winning coach in that Super Bowl, Don McCafferty, was fired.
Dolphins head coach Don Shula was taking nothing for granted. His Dolphins barely defeated a 2-4 Buffalo team by one point the week before. And he knew from his years in Baltimore that the Colts were a dangerous team when playing at home in Memorial Stadium. Most of all, he knew that John Unitas would have his team ready to play against their old coach (Shula) and their old quarterback, Earl Morrall. The game started perfectly for the undefeated Dolphins. Earl Morrall calmly marched Miami 80 yards down the field. Larry Csonka burst through a small hole and scored from a yard away. Miami had a 7-0 lead. In the second quarter, Miami’s Curtis Johnson broke through the line and blocked a David Lee punt. Larry Ball recovered inside the Colts’ 30. Two plays later, Morrall tossed a lateral pass to wide receiver Marlin Briscoe. Briscoe, who was a starting quarterback when he played for the Denver Broncos, stood up and threw a perfect forward pass to Paul Warfield who was tackled at the one! Again, Larry Csonka ran the final yard foe a touchdown. Yepremian’s extra point was blocked, leaving Miami with a 13-0 lead. Late in the second quarter, Baltimore’s Boris Shlapak tried a 54-yard field goal. Miami’s Lloyd Mumphord blocked it, giving the Dolphins one more chance before halftime. Yepremian made the most of it, converting a 24-yard field goal on the last play of the first half. 16-0, Miami, at halftime. The Dolphins had started the first half with an 80-yard drive for a touchdown. They repeated that feat with another 80-yard touchdown drive to start the second half. Mercury Morris got the final seven yards and Miami was in total control, leading 23-0. The “No Name Defense” took command of the rest of the game, preserving the shutout and dominating Baltimore’s offense. The game ended 23-0. In the Colts’ post game locker room, head coach John Sandusky said “We warned our players all week about Miami’s special teams. Then we give up a blocked punt and a blocked field goal. Our special teams put us in a big hole.” In Miami’s locker, linebacker Mike Kolen, known as “Captain Crunch” for his devastating hits on other players, said “holding your opponent scoreless is something every defense tries to do. When you see a big zero on the scoreboard you know you did your job.”
Next up: another game with the dangerous Buffalo Bills, losers to Miami 24-23 last sunday. This time, the game would be played in Buffalo.