The Baltimore Colts overcame a series of challenges in 1970 to win their first championship since 1959 and overcoming the stigma of losing the Super Bowl two years earlier. Playing in a new conference and division realignment with a new set of rivals. In addition Don McCafferty replaced Don Shula who left to go to new division rival Miami. Despite the changes the Colts responded to an 11-2-1 record and winners of the new AFC Eastern division.This is a look back at their three playoff victories in 1970.
December 26, 1970 Memorial Stadium Baltimore, MD: AFC Divisional Playoff: Baltimore 17 Cincinnati 0: Johnny Unitas hit Roy Jefferson on a 35-yard scoring pass in the first quarter for what turned out to be the only score the Colts needed. In the second quarter Jim O’Brien of the Colts kicked a 44-yard field into the wind for a 10-0 lead at halftime. In the fourth quarter Unitas hit Eddie Hinton at the Bengals 20 who then cruised into the end zone to finish off the Bengals.
The Colts vaunted defense oly let Cincinnati cross midfield twice and blocked a Horst Muhlman field goal attempt as well. The defense sacked Bengals quarterback Virgil Carter three times in the game and intercepted him once. Cincinnati only gained 139 total yards in the game and was shutout for the second time all season. Colts leading rusher Norm Bulaich paced all runners with 116 yards on 25 carries on the day. On a day in which both teams struggled passing the ball Colts wide receiver Eddie Hinton had three catches for 86 yards and one touchdown.
January 3, 1971 Memorial Stadium Baltimore, MD: AFC Championship Game: Baltimore 27 Oakland 17: In the fourth quarter with the Colts holding onto a narrow 20-17 Johnny Unitas hit Ray Perkins running down the sideline for a 68-yard scoring pass that iced the game for the Colts. Perkins beat Oakland cornerback Nehemiah Wilson at the Raiders 45 and raced down field to end zone after the catch.
In the first half the Colts jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead on the Raiders when Jim O’Brien kicked a 16-yard field goal and Norm Bulaich ran one in from the 2. The Raiders despite losing starting quarterback Daryle Lamonica in the second quarter to injury and had to bring in the ageless one George Blanda to rally them. Blanda kicked a 48-yard field goal in the second quarter and hit Fred Biletnikoff for a 38-yard scoring pass to tie the game at ten in the third quarter. O’Brien responded with his second field goal of the game this time from 23 yards and Bulaich scored his second touchdown of the game this time from 11 yards out for 20-10 Colts lead after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter the Raiders pulled to within three when Blanda hit Warren Wells from 15 yards out making it 20-17. A short time later Unitas hit Perkins with his bomb to ice the game. One of the differences in the game was three interceptions by Blanda and a forced fumble helped finish off the Raiders. Plus the Colts pass rush got to Blanda and Lamonica five times on sacks.
January 17, 1971 Orange Bowl Miami, Fl: Super Bowl V: Baltimore 16 Dallas 13: Jim O’Brien’s field goal with five seconds left in the game gave the Colts the victory in Super Bowl V. his field goal was setup when Colts linebacker intercepted a Craig Morton pass that bounced off Cowboys running back Dan Reeves late in the game. Earlier in the fourth quarter Colts safety Rick Volk intercepted a Morton pass that bounced off Cowboys running back Walt Garrison setup a tying touchdown. This time Tom Nowatzke scored from the twotying the game at 13-13.
In the second quarter Johnny Unitas hit John Mackey on a 75-yard scoring pass that was highly controversial. The ball hit either Eddie Hinton of the Colts or Cornell Green of the Cowboys that bounced into Mackey’s hands who raced down field for the score. The officials ruled that Green touched the ball and the score counted. Later on in the second quarter George Andrie of the Cowboys knocked Unitas out of the game and Earl Morrall came into replace him.
All the Dallas scoring took place in the first half when Mike Clark connected on field goals of 14 and 30 yards. Morton connected with Duane Thomas for a seven yard scoring pass in the second quarter. In addition O’Brien had one extra point blocked by Mark Washington of Dallas after the Mackey touchdown.
Thomas fumbled at the Colts two and Jim Duncan of Baltimore recovered in the end zone to save the day. In another strange play Hinton who caught a Sam Havrilak pass and had clear sailing to end one fumbled. The play was supposed to be a flea flicker but Havrilak threw the ball to Hinton who then had the ball stripped by Cornell Green of Dallas. The ball eventually squirted out of the end zone and was ruled a touchback. The break was short lived for the Cowboys because of the Morton interception three plays later to Volk.
1970 Baltimore Colts John Schaefer
More Championship Teams of The NFL by Phil Berger
America’s Game The 1970 Baltimore Colts NFL FIlms
History of the Colts DVD NFL Films
1970 Baltimore Colts www.profootballreference.com