51 for LI: The Super Bowl V Slopfest
[lead align=”default”]After a long NFL season, the Super Bowl is just five days away. Hopefully that game won’t look anything like Super Bowl V in 1971.[/lead]
Before the 1970 NFL season began, the merger between the AFL and NFL became official. The two leagues became one, and played one common schedule for the first time. Baltimore’s team, the Colts in that era, was an NFL franchise that moved to the AFC. They faced the Dallas Cowboys, also an NFL team. After winning Super Bowls III and IV, the old AFL was frozen out of Super Bowl V.
It’s probably just as well, considering that the game was poorly played.
Super Bowl V: 1970 Baltimore Colts
Johnny Unitas was still quarterback of the Colts in 1970 as a 37 year old. He helped lead Baltimore to a 10-2-1 record in his 13 starts that season, though his interceptions (18) exceeded touchdowns (14). It was a less than stellar season for a man who would end up in the Hall of Fame. Nevertheless, their offense was sixth-best in the NFL, and their defense was second-best. Backup Earl Morrall had a better year in much more limited playing time at quarterback.
Baltimore clinched the AFC East with their in in Week 13 over Buffalo. They edged out the Miami Dolphins, a former AFL team with an up-and-coming first year head coach: Don Shula. Miami made the playoffs anyway, but lost before they got a chance to face the Colts.
The Colts easily got through the AFC playoffs to reach the Super Bowl. In the Divisional Round, they shut out the Cincinnati Bengals. A 27-17 win over the Oakland Raiders sealed the AFC championship.
Super Bowl V: 1970 Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys as a franchise were becoming more successful by 1970. Tom Landry’s work was beginning to pay off towards the end of the 1960s with multiple division titles. When 1970 rolled around, the Cowboys, still only about a decade old, were without a championship.
By the end of Week 9, Dallas was 5-4, but the Cowboys won out to post a 10-4 record. This got them an NFC East title by one game over the New York Giants.
Roger Staubach and Craig Morton went through a quarterback controversy, with the Hall of Famer Staubach eventually benched for Morton. It was the latter who started the Super Bowl. To get there, Dallas defeated the Detroit Lions (in an ugly 5-0 contest) and the San Francisco 49ers.
Super Bowl V: The Game
The “Blunder Bowl” was among the worst-played Super Bowls of all-time, even to this day. Statistically, it was a mess, and the play on the field confirmed it. Baltimore and Dallas combined for 11 turnovers, with the winning Colts owning seven. Also, the Cowboys took 133 yards with or penalties, and both quarterbacks completed under 50 percent of passes.
In another ugly statistic, the teams combined to go 4-for-24 on third downs.
Dallas opened the scoring with a short Mike Clark field goal in the first quarter, doubling the lead to 6-0 on another field goal. Moments later, Baltimore got on the board after a Unitas touchdown pass for 75 yards to John Mackey. Of course, the PAT was blocked.
In a 6-6 game, Dallas took advantage of a short field to score a touchdown with 7:53 left in the first half, going ahead 13-6.
It was not until the fourth quarter that the Colts would reassert themselves. The defense held Dallas at bay, but still the Colts trailed with eight minutes to go. Craig Morton would throw an interception that got returned to the Dallas 3. Two plays later, Baltimore had their touchdown (and extra point) to tie the game again.
The teams would trade possessions, but in a tie game, Baltimore got it back deep in Dallas territory with under a minute to go. This was thanks to another Morton interception, which set up Jim O’Brien’s game-winning field goal with five seconds to go.