SN Throwback: Jets stun Colts in Super Bowl III, back Namath’s guarantee | NFL

EDITOR’S NOTE: No nationwide publication has a richer sports activities historical past than that of Sporting Information, which was based in 1886 in St. Louis. The next content material appeared within the Jan. 25, 1969 concern of the Sporting Information journal.

After the 1968 common season, the New York Jets have been pitted towards the closely favored Baltimore Colts in Tremendous Bowll III. The primary two Tremendous Bowls had resulted in blowout wins for the Nationwide Soccer League over the American Soccer League. The destiny of the AFL was on the road in Tremendous Bowl III, because the Jets wanted to make the sport aggressive to protect the viability of the league thought of inferior by way of monetary help and participant expertise. New York did greater than preserve the sport aggressive. Its surprising upset of Baltimore saved the AFL and fueled the 1970 merger of the 2 leagues, forming the NFL we acknowledge immediately.

Unique publish date: Jan. 25, 1969

Docile Colts again Namath Assure

By Lowell Reidenbaugh

MIAMI, Fla. — Alongside Collins Avenue in Miami Seaside, the place luxurious motels rise white-faced like temples of solar and enjoyable, the temptation was robust to interrupt up in a vigorous guffaw any time the New York Jets have been talked about in the identical breath with the Baltimore Colts.

Such an affiliation merely overplayed the “solar and enjoyable” theme.

Most all over the place that Tremendous Bowl speak was heard — in posh lounges and the swank yachts in close by marinas, at cab stands or on building websites for nonetheless extra new pretentious motels — the Colts would hijack the Jets by wherever from 17 to 20 factors.

The championship {of professional} soccer would stay with the Nationwide League, simply because it had in two earlier confrontations, it was usually agreed. And if voices from Fort Lauderdale, the place the Jets have been in coaching, promised a Jet upset, no person may attribute any substance to the predictions.

Packers in Command

Inexperienced Bay had defeated Kansas Metropolis, 35-10, within the unique Tremendous Bowl in 1967, and Oakland, 33-14, within the second confrontation. The highly effective Colts, crushed solely as soon as of their 14-game NFL schedule, would demolish the come-latelies, with their 11-Three report, and the hole between the 2 leagues would stay extensive and scary for nonetheless one other 12 months.

Like Pompeii earlier than the eruption, Miami and the NFL microcosm relaxed within the assurance that every one was nicely with the institution. No person was shaken when, on January 9, Joe Willie Namath, New York quarterback who talks as fluently as he throws a soccer, “assured!” a Jet victory.

Pure bravado!

When, finally, put-up or shut-up Sunday arrived, 75,377 jammed each obtainable seat within the Orange Bowl and frenzied hundreds of thousands sat bug-eyed earlier than TV set for the general public spanking they knew was about to be administered to the upstarts from throughout the tracks.

A Miss by Michaels

First rumblings that every one was not nicely have been heard when Lou Michaels, Colt placekicker, missed on a 27-yard discipline objective try that climaxed the Colts’ first collection of downs.

By four p.m. there have been constructive indicators of a soccer tremor.

By 5 p.m. the seismograph in Commissioner Pete Rozelle’s Park Avenue workplace had recorded a full-scale quake.

And by 6 p.m., all the soccer universe was conscious of a geologic cataclysm.

The Jets, positive sufficient, had resisted that hijacking effort and crushed the Colts honest and sq., 16-7. 

Nothing flukey, no mirrors, no sleight of hand. Simply hard-nosed, convincing soccer that made believers out of numerous skeptics.

The Colts, 34-Zero winners over Cleveland within the NFL title sport, have been just about helpless within the face of Namath’s superior play-calling. And the Jets, 27-23 victors over Oakland within the AFL championship battle, penetrated Baltimore’s vaunted protection with shocking ease.

The Jets scored just one landing, on Matt Snell’s four-yard dash across the left facet, however Jim Turner’s three discipline targets, of 32, 30 and 9 yards, helped construct a 16-Zero cushion earlier than the Colts obtained on the board.

By that point, many spectators have been inching towards the exits and the writers who had predicted a Colt runaway have been huddled within the tunnel, outdoors the Jet dressing room, awaiting an opportunity to interview the most recent darlings of the sports activities world. 

By their early departure, the didn’t see Johnny Unitas, hero of Baltimore phrase titles in 1958 and ’59, engineer an 80-yard drive that culminated in a one-yard landing plunge by Jerry Hill.

19 STRAIGHT: How one Jets play fueled the history-altering upset

Three Minutes to Go

When Michaels transformed, the Colts nonetheless trailed by 9 factors, however three minutes and 9 seconds remained, time for nearly something within the free-scoring world {of professional} soccer.

An onside kick, recovered by Tom Mitchell on the Jets’ 44, elevated Baltimore’s hopes and Unitas moved the Colts to the New York 19, with a second and 5 state of affairs. Out of the blue the momentum died and three passes, one meant for Willie Richardson and two for Jimmy Orr, fell incomplete, and the Colts have been performed in for retains.

Weeb Ewbank, dismissed by the Colts after a nine-year teaching time period that produced two world titles, attributed the Jet triumph to 2 components: “Poise and execution.”

“They (the Colts) are an incredible group,” Ewbank, damp from the full-dress bathe he had been given by his exuberant athletes. “However we’re an incredible group, too, and that is the beginning of a brand new period in professional soccer.”

Weeb, finishing his fifth season with New York however solely his second above the .500 mark, admitted the Jets “put in a few new wrinkles for the sport, primarily go patterns. The operating sport was going good and we caught with that. It went on ball management and undeniable fact that we did not make any errors.

By no means A Unhealthy Name

“Namath was fabulous, he did not make a nasty name,” added Weeb, clutching the championship trophy that he had obtained from Rozelle moments earlier.

“Positive I used to be scared when Joe got here out of the sport holding his throwing hand, however thankfully he was out throughout just one collection of downs.” 

Namath was sidelined late within the third quarter when his thumb “obtained weak.” Joe recalled that “it occurred earlier within the season. I’ve to go to the sidelines and work it out when it occurs.”

Johnny Pattern, quoted continuously within the Tremendous Bowl buildup as a one-time Colt cornerback, denied that revenge motivated his efficiency. “We simply wished to win the sport,” stated Pattern, who accounted for one of many 4 interceptions that halted Colt drives in landing territory.

Later, Pattern introduced the sport ball to AFL President Milt Woodard for enshrinement in league headquarters.

Drenched in compliments and perspiration within the sweltering clubhouse, Namath allowed that “I wasn’t throwing nicely to my left all day. I did not have any interceptions, however I may have had two (one by Jerry Logan, the opposite by Lenny Lyles). If Lyles had caught that one, he most likely would have gone all the best way and adjusted the sport.” Namath speculated.

Echoing Ewbank’s sentiments, Namath tossed a bouquet on the Jet protection.

“I simply cannot say sufficient about ’em,” he stated. “Ordinarily, 16 factors aren’t sufficient to win, however they have been immediately.

“This needed to be te most satisfying win of my life,” Namath admitted.

Breaking off his dialog with newsmen, Namath walked over to a smallish gentleman, decked out in a inexperienced Jet blazer and white straw hat, and greeted him with a victory hug.

A Proud Father

John Namath, a 61-year-old steelworker from Beaver Falls, Pa., had little question that his celebrated son would produce a win, simply as promised. “He can do something he needs,” stated John, father of three different sons, Bob, who accompanied his dad to the sport; John, a profession Military man at Fort Knox, and Frank, a Michigan insuranceman.

Whereas the Jets have been accepting their newly received laurels with exceptional aplomb, the Colts have been subdued, however hardly subjugated. 

Totally clothed, Earl Morrall sat head down in entrance of his locker, patiently answering questions that finally revealed a sameness as a brand new circle of newsmen changed an previous.

The NFL’s Participant of the 12 months, who had walked to the very doorstep of the throne room earlier than the welcome mat was jerked away ,stated he was unable “to account for it (the loss). They simply made the performs and we did not. The safety was good. I do know I had males open, like after I missed Orr ultimately zone.”

Morrall referred to a second-quarter “flea-flicker” wherein he handed off to Tome Matte, took a return go after which, failing to identify Orr, the first goal, threw down the center towards Jerry Hill. Jim Hudson intercepted it on the Jets’ 12.

Unhealthy Day for Earl

The interception was one among three towards Morrall within the second quarter. The primary, on the second play of the interval, from the Jets six, was on a go meant for Tom Mitchell.

The ball was ticked by a linebacker, struck Mitchell on the shoulder and bounced off into the palms of Randy Beverly.

On the subsequent collection of Colt downs, Morrall moved the Colts from their very own 20 to the Jet 15, aided by a 58-yard Matte scamper, however a go aimed for Richardson was picked off by Pattern on the 2. A fourth New York interception was made on the expense of Unitas within the fourth quarter, Beverly grabbing the ball ultimately zone.

The Jet protection introduced no specific downside, stated Morrall. “They caught with the identical defenses we would seen; they only performed them good. We moved on them, however simply could not get any factors.”

The Jets piled up 337 complete yards, to 324 for the Colts.

Requested what Coach Don Shula had stated to him within the third quarter when he was changed by Unitas, hampered many of the season with an ailing elbow, Earl replied: “Stated he needed to do one thing to attempt to get us going.”

Shula, too, was liberal in his reward for the Jets. “They deserved to win,” stated Shula, in his sixth season as Colt coach. “We did nothing proper, no good protection, no large performs. Nothing we tried materialized.”

Shula stated that many of the speak concerning the Jets involved their passing assault, including, “However they’ve good operating. Snell is an actual good again. They ran higher towards us than some other group all the season.”

In each manner, Shula stated, Namath measured as much as what the Colts had anticipated.

“He moved the membership. He has a robust, fast arm,” the Colts’ coach noticed.

“He beat our blitz extra typically than we beat him. He beat it about three or 4 occasions; we beat him solely as soon as.

“He did every part. he is aware of what’s occurring and mixes his performs and operating very nicely. He does every part.”

The Second Guess

When the Colts tried for a landing, on a fourth and 5 state of affairs from the Jet 19 late within the sport, second-guessers have been fast to pontificate, insisting that because the Colts would even have wanted not less than a discipline objective to tug out a victory, this is able to have been time to go for 3 factors.

Shula disagreed. “I made a decision to go for the landing as a result of I did not wish to lose the sphere place we had then,” he defined. “We nonetheless would have had to achieve success on an onside kickoff.”

Whereas the Jets have been mentally calculating the $15,000 every had received for his or her Tremendous-iority, Matte, the Colts’ high gainer with 116 yards in 11 tries, confessed that he had already spent the winner’s share.

“We’re having an addition constructed to our home,” Matte informed golfer Jack Nicklaus, a former classmate at Ohio State. “Now I will come up $7,500 quick (the distinction between the 2 purses).

“I knew they’d be powerful. I stated earlier I might accept a one-point victory … the heck with having to win by a one-sided rating.”

“You performed a whale of a sport,” stated Nicklaus.

“It wasn’t ok to win,” stated Matte. “That is what counts.”

The opinion was shared universally.

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