The season started with much turmoil when head coach Ted Marchibroda resigned shortly before the season opener due to a power struggle with general manager Joe Thomas. Several Colts assistant coaches threatened to leave the team, and quarterbackBert Jones publicly came to his coach's defense. Thomas and Colts owner Robert Irsay quickly made amends with the coach before the season started. (Thomas would be fired by the team shortly after the season.)
The Colts offense was dominant in 1976: they led the league in scoring with 417 points (29.7 per game). Quarterback Bert Jones was named league MVP after passing for a league-best 3,104 yards, 9.27 yards-per-attempt, and a passer rating of 102.5, second best in the NFL. Running backLydell Mitchell also had a spectactular year, rushing for 1,200 yards, and catching 60 passes. Wide receiverRoger Carr proved to be a valuable deep threat in the passing game, leading the league 1,112 receiving yards and 25.9 yards per reception. All three offensive players made the 1976 AFC Pro Bowl team.
The team made it to the playoffs as a No. 2 seed and played host to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round. The Colts fell behind 26–7 at the half and would never recover, ending up losing by a score of 40–14.