1968 Baltimore Colts season

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1968 Baltimore Colts season
Head coach Don Shula
Owner Carroll Rosenbloom
Home field Memorial Stadium
Results
Record 13–1
Division place 1st NFL Coastal
Playoff finish Won Western Conference (Minnesota Vikings, 24–14)
Won NFL Championship
(Cleveland Browns, 34–0)
Lost Super Bowl III
(New York Jets, 16–7)

The 1968 Baltimore Colts season was the 16th season for the team in the National Football League. Led by sixth-year head coach Don Shula, they finished the regular season with a record of 13 wins and 1 loss, and won the Western Conference's Coastal division.

The previous season, the Colts' record was 11–1–2, tied for the best in the league, but were excluded from the playoffs. They lost a tiebreaker with the Los Angeles Rams for the Coastal Division title in 1967; the other three teams in the NFL postseason, all division winners, had nine wins each.

In 1968, Baltimore won the Western Conference playoff game with the Minnesota Vikings and the NFL Championship Game in a shutout of the Cleveland Browns, but then lost to the New York Jets of the American Football League in Super Bowl III.[1] Hall of fame quarterback Johnny Unitas had been injured during the pre-season, so Earl Morrall led the offense. Shula decided to bring Unitas back in during the second half of the Super Bowl, to no avail.

Regular season[edit]

Schedule[edit]

Week Date Opponent Result Record Game Site Attendance
1 September 15, 1968 San Francisco 49ers W, 27–10 1–0 Memorial Stadium
56,864
2 September 22, 1968 at Atlanta Falcons W, 28–20 2–0 Atlanta Stadium
50,428
3 September 29, 1968 at Pittsburgh Steelers W, 41–7 3–0 Pitt Stadium
44,480
4 October 6, 1968 Chicago Bears W, 28–7 4–0 Memorial Stadium
60,238
5 October 13, 1968 at San Francisco 49ers W, 42–14 5–0 Kezar Stadium
32,822
6 October 20, 1968 Cleveland Browns  L, 20–30 5–1 Memorial Stadium
60,238
7 October 27, 1968 Los Angeles Rams W, 27–10 6–1 Memorial Stadium
60,238
8 November 3, 1968 at New York Giants W, 26–0 7–1 Yankee Stadium
62,973
9 November 10, 1968 at Detroit Lions W, 27–10 8–1 Tiger Stadium
55,170
10 November 17, 1968 St. Louis Cardinals W, 27–0 9–1 Memorial Stadium
60,238
11 November 24, 1968 Minnesota Vikings W, 21–9 10–1 Memorial Stadium
60,238
12 December 1, 1968 Atlanta Falcons W, 44–0 11–1 Memorial Stadium
60,238
13 December 7, 1968 at Green Bay Packers W, 16–3 12–1 Lambeau Field
50,861
14 December 15, 1968 at Los Angeles Rams W, 28–24 13–1 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
69,397

Standings[edit]

NFL Coastal
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Baltimore Colts 13 1 0 .929 6–0 10–0 402 144 W8
Los Angeles Rams 10 3 1 .769 3–2–1 6–3–1 312 200 L2
San Francisco 49ers 7 6 1 .538 2–3–1 4–5–1 303 310 W1
Atlanta Falcons 2 12 0 .143 0–6 1–9 170 389 L4

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.

Post-season[edit]

The team made it to the playoffs as winners of the Coastal division and hosted the Minnesota Vikings of the Central division for the Western Conference title. The Colts took a 21–0 lead and went on to win 24–14.[2] They then traveled to Cleveland to take on the Browns in the NFL Championship Game. Baltimore's only loss of the season came at home to the Browns in October, falling 20–30.[3][4] In late December, the Colts defense was on top of their game as they shut out the Browns 34–0 to gain their third NFL title.[5][6][7] The 1968 Colts were being touted as "the greatest football team in history."

In Super Bowl III, the Colts took on the heavy underdog New York Jets led by quarterback Joe Namath, with the Colts favored by 17 to 21 points.[8][9][10] Before the game, former NFL star and coach Norm Van Brocklin ridiculed the AFL, saying "This will be Namath's first professional football game." Three days before the game, Namath was being heckled in Miami and he responded by saying: "We’re going to win Sunday. I guarantee it."[10][11][12] The Jets beat the Colts 16–7 in one of the biggest upsets in American sports history.[1]

Perhaps the biggest effect of the Colts' loss is that the predominant sentiment that the AFL was not strong enough to merge with the NFL was firmly squelched.[13]

Playoff Round Date Opponent Result Game Site Attendance
Western Conference December 22, 1968 Minnesota Vikings W, 24–14 Memorial Stadium
60,238
NFL Championship December 29, 1968 at Cleveland Browns W, 34–0 Municipal Stadium
80,628
Super Bowl January 12, 1969 New York Jets  L, 7–16 Orange Bowl
75,389

Awards[edit]

Earl Morrall: AP NFL MVP

Don Shula: AP NFL Coach of the Year

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Strickler, George (January 13, 1969). "Jets score Super upset over Colts". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, section 3. 
  2. ^ Bledsoe, Terry (December 23, 1968). "Kapp, the tough Viking, finds Colts even tougher". Milwaukee Journal. p. 10, part 2. 
  3. ^ "Browns prove Colts are human". Toledo Blade. Ohio. Associated Press. October 21, 1968. p. 25. 
  4. ^ "Browns hand Colts first loss". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. October 21, 1968. p. 1, part 2. 
  5. ^ Strickler, George (December 30, 1968). "Colts crush Browns for NFL title". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, section 3. 
  6. ^ Scholl, Bill (December 30, 1968). "Colts gain revenge, wallop Browns, 34-0, to win National League crown". Youngstown Vindicator. Ohio. p. 12. 
  7. ^ Hannen, John (January 30, 1968). "Colts' Matte returned home to KO Cleveland". Toledo Blade. Ohio. p. 18. 
  8. ^ Strickler, George (January 10, 1969). "Colts soar to 21-point favorites". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, section 3. 
  9. ^ "Jets' Namath carries hopes for AFL prestige today". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. January 12, 1969. p. 1, sports. 
  10. ^ a b "Quarterbacks Super Bowl topics". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. January 11, 1969. p. 13. 
  11. ^ Dorman, Larry (January 15, 1989). "A guarantee of greatness". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvania. Knight-Ridder. p. C1. 
  12. ^ Zinser, Lynn (May 25, 2012). "Pregame Talk Is Cheap, but This Vow Resonates". The New York Times. p. B10. Archived from the original on May 25, 2012. 
  13. ^ Funk, Ben (January 13, 1969). "Jets make believers out of Colts, NFL". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. Associated Press. p. 3B. 

See also[edit]