Saturday, November 14, 2009

The 1967 Baltimore Colts

Last year the Arizona Cardinals almost won the Super Bowl. Their regular season record was 9-7. Many thought it was a reflection of the warped playoff system that can catapult a mediocre team into the championship game. But what about the flip side? Have great teams been denied an opportunity to participate in the playoffs? The answer is yes. Forgotten in the annals of football anomalies are the 1967 Baltimore Colts. First some background. The NFL had four divisions: the Capital, Coastal, Century, and Central. Dallas (9-5) won the Capital, Cleveland (9-5) won the Century, Green Bay (9-4-1) won the Central. The real excitement was in the Coastal. The Colts amassed a record of 11-0-2 going into the final game against the Rams in Los Angeles who were 10-1-2. They played to a tie earlier in the season in Baltimore. Each had beaten the champion Packers in the regular season. The Rams had a very strong defense led by its Fearsome Foursome. Roman Gabriel was the quarterback. He had two excellent receivers: Bernie Casey (later a bit Hollywood actor) and Jack Snow. The Colts had Johnny Unitas who enjoyed his best season ever. He was the league's MVP that year. Don Shula coached the Colts. The Rams won, 34-10. They also won the division. The Colts finished 11-1-2, one of the best regular season records ever in the NFL. But they did not make the playoffs. The Packers beat the Rams in the first round of the playoffs, beat the Cowboys in one of the most memorable NFL games ever, and then trounced the Raiders in the second Super Bowl. It was Green Bay's last hurrah. The next season the Colts finished 13-1 but lost to the Jets in the Super Bowl III.
I remember the season well and always thought it was strange that a team could not make the playoffs despite only losing one game all year.
Next Up: Don Shula. Was he overrated?

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