In the first Super Bowl after the realignment of the AFL and NFL into one league, the Baltimore Colts now in the AFC faced the Dallas Cowboys from the NFC.
Baltimore had defeated Oakland 27-17 in the AFC championship game and was headed by Don McCafferty who had taken over for Don Shula as after the 1969 season he had moved to the Miami Dolphins.
The Cowboys were coached by Tom Landry who had a long history in the NFL as a player and coach, having played six years for the New York Giants as a halfback, quarterback, defensive back and punter before becoming the offensive coordinator to Jim Lee Howell on the same team in which Vince Lombardi was the defensive coordinator. That team won the NFL title in 1956 and lost in 1958 and 1959 to Unitas led Colts.
Despite having good teams this was Landry’s first participation in a championship game since 1959, as the Cowboys could never get past Lombardi’s Packers.
They had defeated the San Francisco 49ers 17-10 in the NFC title game and were ready to take on the Colts in the Orange Bowl.
Both teams had quarterback controversies as Baltimore relied on 38 year old Johnny Unitas and his backup Earl Morrall who was just as effective.
For the Cowboys the competition was between Roger Staubach and Craig Morton with Landry tending towards Morton as he was more consistent. For receivers they had former Olympic champion in the 100 meter dash, Bob Hayes and a strong running game with Duane Thomas and Walt Garrison.
A strong offensive line was anchored by John Niland and Rayfield Wright.
They had a strong defense with tackle Bob Lilly, linebackers Lee Roy Jordan and Bob Howley and defensive backs Mel Renfro and Herb Adderley formerly with Green Bay.
Dallas opened the scoring after a fumbled Colts’ punt return gave the ball to the Cowboys in Baltimore territory which they converted into a fourteen yard field goal by Mike Clark to make the score 3-0 Cowboys.
After Clark kicked a thirty yard field goal, Baltimore scored a touchdown on a tipped pass which John Mackey came down with and went seventy five yards for a score with the extra point being blocked and the score was 6-6.
The Cowboys responded with a touchdown of their own as Duane Thomas scored on a seven yard pass play from Craig Morton, making the score at halftime 13-6 Cowboys.
The third quarter was scoreless and the game went to the fourth quarter where in a key play of the game Craig Morton threw an interception caught by Baltimore safety Rick Volk and returned to the Dallas three yard line. From there the Colts scored on a two yard Nowatske run to tie the game 13-13.
Dallas had a chance to score with two minutes left in the game when they got the ball at the Colts’ 48 yard line, but a 15 yard holding penalty and an interception by Mike Curtis gave the ball to Baltimore.
With Unitas having being knocked out of the game Earl Morrall directed them into field goal position and with just seconds left on the clock Jim O’Brien kicked a 32 yard field goal to give the Colts a 16-13 win.
In a game featuring eleven turnovers, six interception and five fumbles, Dallas linebacker Chuck Howley got the MVP award.
Landry and Dallas would be back the next year in Super Bowl VI but the Colts would not return until the team had been moved to Indianapolis and appeared in the Super Bowl XLI in 2007, thirty–six years later.
For the Colts the great Unitas who was the hero of another Super Bowl quarterback, Joe Namath, got a Super Bowl ring. Johnny U was one of the most popular players of his time which spanned the late 1950’s through the 1960’s and into the early 1970’s.