Morton getting sacked in the Super Bowl as a Bronco
Nowadays I hear many fans screaming how a certain QB is lucky because of such and such and how they are lucky to be in the system they’re in or because their defense carries them to victories. These people, most of which I’m sure carelessly throw out these accusations should seriously give a little study time to the great Craig Morton, perhaps one of the luckiest players in NFL history. Craig played the majority of 10 playoff games and put up some of the worst performances in history, yet managed to come out with wins. To be chronologically correct I’ll start with his days in Dallas. He lost his first playoff game in 1968 by a score of 31-20 where he completed 9 of 23 passes for 163 TDs and a TD and INT a piece, this was to be one of his best playoff performances. He would lose his next playoff game 14-38 completing 8 of 24 passes for 92 yards and 2 picks, his rating was 11.1, he would follow this up with his first successful playoff run in 1970 which saw the Cowboys make the Super Bowl for the first time. It is by almost a miracle and a showcase of how truly talented that Cowboys squad was that they carried Craig Morton in that playoff run. In the Divisional game Morton completed 4 of 18 passes for 38 yards and an interception, he “won” that game by the score of 5-0, it remains one of the worst performances by a Quarterback in a playoff victory. He would follow that stinker up with a slightly better 7 for 22 with a TD against the constantly choking in the Championship game 49ers. Poor old Landry must have though Craig going 2-0 meant he did good, sadly his crapulence would not be overcome by his team in Super Bowl V, still counted as one of the worst Super Bowls ever due to the amount of turnovers and sheer impotence of both teams. Morton completed 12 of his 26 passes for 127 yards and threw one measly TD to 3 interceptions that didn’t bury his team due to the Colts not being much better with the tandem of Morrall and Unitas. Landry, with Staubach in waiting, kept Craig in and watched his team lose on a last second field goal by the Colts 16-13.
Just to let you know why Morton was given his opportunities, he was actually statistically sound in the regular season, in fact throwing 21 TDs to 15 INTs and going 10-2-1 in 1969, he outplayed Staubach, but come playoff time in the modern era he would have been crucified. He stuck around in Dallas up until 1974, in 1972 the Cowboys were saved a sure loss after Morton started with less than 50% completion, again and 2 picks and Roger The Dodger became a legend as he brought the Cowboys back down 15 in the 4th quarter to win the game and go on to win the Super Bowl against the Dolphins. That’s right, Craig Morton has a Super Bowl ring, I’m sure he’s showed it to Marino at least once. Morton’s career did not end there though, the Giants gave him 2 more seasons as a starter in 75 and 76, both saw him not do so good in the regular season and even sniff having to choke in the playoffs. In 1977 the Broncos, on the verge of a miracle season, picked up Morton and saw him have a comeback year. In the 77 playoffs Morton shed his playoff choker image and produced back to back 100 Rated performances, though the 77 AFC Championship saw controversy with the Broncos getting a TD to go up 14-3 despite fumbling the ball the previous play. The 77 run was certainly magical, though Morton’s days of choking like a dying dog in the post-season came back in one of the most laughable ways possible, by posting the first and only 0.0 QB Rating in the post-season. In, THE SUPER BOWL, Morton completed 4 of 15 passes for 4 Interceptions. Norris Weese was brought in and although he didn’t fair that much better the Broncos were able to score 10 points behind him. Raiders fan must take some solace in the fact Gannon’s performance in Super Bowl XXXVII was magnificent in comparison to Morton’s Super Bowl XII. Alas the Broncos stuck with Morton and he managed to throw in two more playoff losses ( though one he barely played in ). He put up his best statistical season in 1981, where he managed to screw it up again, by, with his team 10-5 and on the verge of a playoff spot, threw a stinker against the 5-10 Bears in the last game of the season. In that game Morton completed 8 of 23 passes for 1 TD and 3 INTs and dropped the Broncos into a 3-21 hole. That came is notable for showcasing Steve DeBerg’s will of a great Quarterback as he almost brought the Broncos back to salvage the season.
So why do I have Craig Morton placed comfortable at #60? The sad fact is that he was the first and until 2008 only Quarterback to get two different teams to the Super Bowl, and although his playoff career as a whole is nothing short of pitiful statistically, he got to two Super Bowls and in 1977 did indeed help the Broncos instead of riding the defense like he did in Dallas, and although he performed, well downright vomit inducing in the Super Bowl, that was the first Super Bowl berth for a franchise few though would reach that high. Furthermore Craig had some good statistical regular seasons, and his regular season record as a starter is 81-62. For the fact he played for so long and got two different teams to the Super Bowl he gets bonus points. Personally I would put him somewhere behind Jeff George because George did better in his limited playoff appearances. But such is life, and Craig Morton received the AP Comeback Player of the Year award in 1977 and currently finds his name on the Broncos ring of fame. Although I think his greatest achievement is setting the bar relatively low for John Elway to surpass what the number 7 would mean for the Broncos organization.