Two new teams would advance to the Super Bowl in January of 1969 as the Baltimore Colts dispatched the Cleveland Browns 34-0 to face the New York Jets 12-3 who had a tougher game in the AFL Championship game against the defending AFL champions the Oakland Raiders 13-3.
The Raiders were ahead late in the game 23-20 until Joe Namath found Don Maynard for a six yard touchdown pass and the Jets win 27-23 to face the Colts.
The Jets’ coach Weeb Ewbank had formerly coached in Baltimore and had directed them to the 1958 and 1959 NFL titles which at that time was the pro football title game.
Baltimore was coached by Don Shula who would go on to be the winningest pro football coach ever with a lifetime 347-173-6 record and who had replaced Ewbank after the 1962 season.
New York was led by their flamboyant quarterback “Broadway” Joe Namath who after leaving Alabama in 1964 signed a $400,000 contract with AFL Jets.
Namath was brash enough to guarantee a Jets’ victory during Super Bowl week which made the Colts 18 point favorites.
The Colts had an aging 35 year old Johnny Unitas who had led the Colts to their 1958 and 59 championships but had been replaced as the starter by Earl Morrall. Their receivers were John Mackey and Willie Richardson and running back Tom Matte, a former Ohio State star. The coaching staff had Chuck Noll a defensive backs coach who would later go on to coach the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl wins.
So the game had a lot of drama. There was Joe Namath and the great Unitas backing up Morrell and Shula in the same position as Lombardi before him with pressure on him to win and prove the NFL superior to the AFL.
Namath’s receivers were George Sauer and Maynard along with running backs Emerson Boozer and Mat Snell. Corner back Johnny Sample led the team in interceptions with seven.
This was the first AFL-NFL Championship game termed the Super Bowl and was played in the Orange Bowl in Miami. Morrall started at quarterback for Baltimore and in the first quarter moved the ball down the field to the Jets 19 yard line but came away without a score when Lou Michaels missed a 27 yard field goal.
This was to set the pattern for the game for the Colts as at the end of the first half, George Sauer fumbled after catching a pass and Baltimore had the ball on the Jets 12 yard line. They advanced to the six yard line before an Earl Morrall pass was defected up in the air and intercepted by the Jets’ Randy Beverly.
The Jets then went down the field to score a touchdown on a four yard Matt Snell run and the Jets led 7-0.
The Colts advanced to the Jets end of the field but Michaels again missed a field goal this time from 46 yards out. And after the Jets Jim turner missed a 41 yard field goal the Colts again were in Jets’ territory at the15 yard line before Morrall was intercepted by Johnny Sample.
After the Jets were forced to punt Baltimore got the ball back and again got into Jets’ territory at the 41 yard line when the Colts ran a flea flicker play with the ball going to Matte like a running play but then he lateralled it back to Morrall who had Jimmy Orr wide open but didn’t see him and tried a pass to running back Jerry Hill which was intercepted by Lou Hudson-the third interception of the half, and at halftime the score was 7-0 Jets.
The third quarter was characterized by two Jim turner field goals, one of which the result of a Tom Matte fumble, of 32 and 30 yards.
Late in third period Shula pulled Morrall for Johnny Unitas to see if he could rally the Colts. In the fourth quarter he did drive the team down the field but his 25 yard pass was intercepted in the end zone by Beverley.
On the next Colts drive Unitas did finally get the team into the end zone for a score on a Jerry Hill one yard run and the score was 16-7 with 3:19 left in the game.
The Colts recovered an onside kick and drove to the New York 19 yard line but Unitas could not get a completion on four downs and the ball went back to the Jets and in the first upset in Super Bowl history the Jets became the first AFL team to win the Super Bowl.
Namath would get the MVP and the Colts would return to the Super Bowl two years later and win over the Dallas Cowboys while the New York Jets have not appeared in that game since their win 1969 win.
Ron Griffitts a contribution columnist for the Daily Advocate