With the pinnacle game of the NFL season nearby, I am going back through the archives to discuss the top 10 Super Bowls of all-time.
Our No. 2 game featured two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Joe Namath of the New York Jets faced off against Johnny Unitas of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.
The New York Jets were a part of the AFL, a conference that was considered inferior to the NFL. They went 8-5-1 in the 1987/1968 season, which was the best record in the team’s short history. In the 1968/1969 season, they went 11-3 and won the Eastern Division.
QB Joe Namath led the offense with 3,147 passing yards and 15 touchdowns, but also threw 17 interceptions. FB Matt Snell was the top rusher on the team with 747 yards and six touchdowns, while RB Emerson Boozer contributed 441 yards and five touchdowns, despite a 3.1 average per carry.
They also had two excellent wide receivers. Don Maynard had 57 receptions for 1,297 yards and 10 touchdowns, while George Sauer had 66 receptions for 1,141 yards and three touchdowns. They were led on defense by DB’s Johnny Sample (seven interceptions), and Jim Hudson (five interceptions).
They would await the winner of the Western Division playoff game between the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Raiders stomped the Chiefs 41-6, setting up the AFL Championship Game.
The Raiders had defeated the Jets earlier in the year 43-32. However, the Jets would come out victorious this time, winning 27-23 in a highly contested game.
The 1968 Baltimore Colts were coming off a disappointing end to the 1967 season. They had gone 11-1-2, but lost to the Los Angeles Rams for the Coastal Division Championship and the playoff spot.
The 1968 season wouldn’t start out well, as QB Johnny Unitas would suffer an elbow injury in the final preseason game. However, backup Earl Morrall would lead them to a 13-1 record and the Coastal Division title.
Morrall led the way, throwing for 2,909 Yards and 26 touchdowns. He threw to wide receivers Jimmy Orr (29 receptions, 743 yards, six touchdowns) and Willie Richardson (37 receptions, 698 yards, eight touchdowns), which provided Baltimore with two deep threats, with Orr averaging 25.6 yards per catch, and Richardson averaging 18.9.
TE John Mackey also recorded 45 receptions for 644 yards and five touchdowns. RB Tom Matte was the team's top rusher with 662 yards and nine touchdowns. He also caught 25 passes for 275 yards and another touchdown.
The defense was led by Bubba Smith, a 6'7", 295-pound DE who was considered the NFL's best pass rusher, LB Mike Curtis, who was considered one of the top linebackers in the NFL, and DB’s Bobby Boyd (eight interceptions), Rick Volk (six interceptions), Lenny Lyles (five interceptions), and Jerry Logan (three interceptions).
Their divisional matchup pitted them against the Minnesota Vikings. The Colts would win 24-14, earning the trip to the Super Bowl. After winning the NFL Championship Game, the Colts were deemed “The Greatest Team in Pro Football History.”
This game is also known for one other thing: “the Guarantee.” You see, the AFL was considered to be a league that didn’t measure up in talent to the NFL. This game was pretty much considered over before it began, and the Colts were expected to stomp right over the Jets.
However, Namath was at the Miami Touchdown Club, and in responding to the audience, he boldly proclaimed, "We're gonna win the game. I guarantee it.” That set up one of the greatest games in Super Bowl history.
The first half was relatively quiet. Mostly it was marred by turnovers and poor decisions. The only score was a Snell four-yard touchdown run, and the Jets led 7-0 at halftime.
The Jets would control the third quarter, holding the ball for all but three minutes. They kicked two field goals and were up 13-0 with four minutes left in the third quarter.
At that point, Colts head coach Don Shula would pull Morrall for the injured Unitas trying to spark the offense. However, they still couldn’t really do much against the Jets defense and went into the fourth quarter down 13-0.
The Jets would kick another field goal early in the fourth, putting them up 16-0 and completely stunning everyone, including the Colts.
The two teams would then trade mishaps, with a Unitas interception turned into a Jets missed field goal. The Colts finally got into the end zone as RB Jerry Hill scored on a one-yard run with 3:19 left in the game.
The Colts then recovered an onside kick and proceeded to drive the field. However, they would fall short, as Unitas would throw three incomplete passes and turn the ball over on downs.
The Jets would run time off the clock and punt to give the Colts the ball back with just eight seconds. The game was over after two incomplete passes, and the Jets had shocked the world, winning Super Bowl III 16-7.
This game had it all and that is why we have named it our No. 2 Super Bowl game of All-Time. Stay tuned for the rest of our top 10 coming up in the next few days. Any questions or concerns, feel free to email us at Derek@Sportmeisters.com or Ryan@Sportmeisters.com.