1962 American Football League Championship Game
|Date||December 23, 1962|
|TV in the United States|
|Announcers||Curt Gowdy, Paul Christman,
and Jack Buck
The 1962 American Football League Championship Game was played on December 23 at Jeppesen Stadium in Houston, Texas. The host Houston Oilers (11–3) of the Eastern Division were trying for their third consecutive AFL title, matched against the Western Division's Dallas Texans, also at 11–3.
The two teams were the class of the league that year, and they split their regular season series, with the visiting team winning each game. The Texans thumped the Oilers at Houston 31–7 on October 28, and the next week the Oilers returned the favor with a 14–6 win at the Cotton Bowl.
Dallas was coached by the erudite Hank Stram, and featured players on offense included Abner Haynes, quarterback Len Dawson, and rookie running back Curtis McClinton, a powerful 230 lb (104 kg) All-American from Kansas. The defense showcased Johnny Robinson and E. J. Holub.
Houston, coached by Frank "Pop" Ivy, featured a host of offensive talent with veteran quarterback George Blanda, Charlie Tolar, the fleet-footed Billy Cannon, Charlie Hennigan, and unheralded Willard Dewveall. Jeppesen Stadium ticket takers counted 37,981 fans in attendance. Astronaut Gus Grissom placed the ball on the kicking tee as the honorary referee.1 2 3
At the time, it was the longest game in the history of professional American football, and remains the longest professional championship game (and third-longest professional game) in the history of the sport.
Early in the game both teams relied on the run. Houston with Tolar and Cannon gained the advantage and advanced the ball to the Dallas 4-yard line. The Dallas defense rose to the occasion and hit Blanda as he attempted to pass causing the ball to wobble right into the eager arms of the Texans EJ Holub for an interception. Holub scrambled upfield but Houston's Al Jamison saved a touchdown by knocking Holub out of bounds at midfield. Len Dawson then mixed running and passing to the Houston 8 where Tommy Brooker booted a 16-yard field goal.
Houston started driving again with Tolar and Cannon running, often from a "double wing" backfield formation. The drive stalled and Blanda missed a 47-yard field goal to conclude the 1st qtr.
When Dallas took possession, Jack Spikes promptly darted around left end for 33 yards, augmented by a 15-yard face mask penalty against Houston. Dawson then hit Abner Haynes, who had lined up as a flanker, on a curl-out pattern and Haynes scooted down the right sideline for 28 yards and a touchdown. Brooker's extra-point made it 10–0, Dallas.
Later, in the quarter, Houston had the ball at their 32, when Blanda lofted a pass deep, but Dave Grayson picked the ball off and returned it to the Hou 29. Dallas kept the ball on the ground, with Haynes scoring his 2nd TD, and Dallas led 17–0. George Blanda would not be deterred and continued to pass, but a 4th down incompletion at the Dallas 25 ended another drive, and any more scoring threats in the first half.
The Oilers received the kickoff and Blanda again came out throwing. With Charlie Tolar (an oil-well fire fighter in the off-season)3 knocking defenders down and Blanda passing, Houston culminated the drive with a 15-yard pass to Willard Dewveall, closing the gap to 17–7, Dallas.
Later in the third period Haynes fumbled and Houston recovered at the Dallas 20, but Johnny Robinson picked-off Blanda's pass at the goal line and returned in to the Dallas 37.
Dallas kept the ball on the ground in the 2nd half, intending to use up the clock and keep Houston's potent offense off the field. Dallas consistently moved the ball, but could not get into scoring position.
George Blanda using the double wing backfield, had Houston driving again. On a third down pass from the Dallas 24, Johnny Robinson delivered a hard hit to Billy Cannon at the goal line, knocking the ball loose and preventing a touchdown. Blanda then coolly kicked a 31-yard field goal to make it 17–10, Dallas.
Dallas stayed conservative and Blanda continued the aerial assault connecting with Cannon and Hennigan to move to the Dallas 1-yard line. Fullback Charlie Tolar the "human bowling ball" took the ball in on a 1-yard dive, again knocking defenders out of the way. Blanda's extra-point tied the game at 17–17.
With the clock running down, Dave Grayson blocked a 42-yard field goal attempt by Blanda to end any more scoring threats.
The first overtime started with a potentially damaging gaffe by Dallas captain Abner Haynes, who won the toss and elected to "kick to the clock". What Haynes wanted was the strong wind behind his team, but, by saying "kick" first, he gave the Oilers the choice of having the wind at their backs. As it turned out, it didn't matter. The first overtime went scoreless, but Bill Hull intercepted a Blanda pass to end it with the Texans at the Oilers' 48. In the second overtime, Jack Spikes picked up ten yards on a pass reception and nineteen yards on a rush. After the Texans ran a couple of plays to position the ball, rookie Tommy Brooker came in on fourth-and-nine, and calmly kicked a 25-yard field goal after 2:54 of the sixth quarter, or 17:54 of sudden-death overtime, to end the game.
The Houston Oilers had come within a hair's breadth of winning the first three AFL championships, but the Texans prevailed, 20–17, in their last game before moving north to Missouri to become the Kansas City Chiefs. They would win the AFL title again in 1966 and 1969, gaining berths in the first and fourth Super Bowls.
The overflow attendance of nearly 38,000 brought a gate of about $170,000. The winning Texans players each made $2,261, while the Oilers received $1,471 each. These shares were less than half of those for the NFL title game in 1962, at $5,888 and $4,166 each.
- "Texas teams battle today for AFL title". Chicago Sunday Tribune. Associated Press. December 23, 1962. p. 3, part 2.
- "Oilers favored by 6½ for 3rd straight title". Victoria Advocate. (Texas). Associated Press. December 23, 1962. p. 14A.
- "Texans trip Oilers 20-17 in overtime title battle". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. December 24, 1962. p. 8.
- 1962 NFL-AFL Commentator Crews[permanent dead link]
- "Texans win, 20-17, in two overtimes". Chicago Daily Tribune. Associated Press. December 24, 1962. p. 1, part 3.
- "Dallas to challenge champions in AFL". Milwaukee Journal. press dispatches. December 23, 1962. p. 6, sports.
- "Dallas wins in sudden death". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. December 24, 1962. p. 2, part 2.
- "Dallas tips Houston in second overtime". Milwaukee Journal. press dispatches. December 24, 1962. p. 8, part 2.
- Skelton, Max B. (December 23, 1962). "Balanced Dallas Texans battle passing Houston Oilers". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. p. 1, sports.
- "Dallas survives Houston rally, goof; captures AFL crown in overtime". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. Associated Press. December 24, 1962. p. 2B.
- "Dallas dethrones Houston with 20-to-17 sudden death victory in 'sixth quarter'". The Bulletin. Bend, Oregon. UPI. December 24, 1962. p. 3.
- "Pro figures". Milwaukee Journal. December 31, 1962. p. 18, part 1.
- The Football Encyclopedia, St Martin's Press, New York, ISBN 0-312-05089-5, p. 357
- Curt Gowdy, Paul Christman or Jack Buck during ABC's original game broadcast
- http://www.secsportsfan.com/billy-cannon-biography.html, retrieved April 20, 2010
1961 AFL Champions
American Football League Champions
San Diego Chargers
1963 AFL Champions