It's Super Bowl week, but unfortunately the Indianapolis Colts won't be playing in it, as this year's game features the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. The Colts' franchise, dating back to their days in Baltimore, has played in four Super Bowls, however, and we're going to take a look at each one of those this week leading up to this year's Super Bowl. Some games will be good ones for the Colts, while others won't be. Today we look at one of the good ones, as the Baltimore Colts defeated the Dallas Cowboys 16-13 in Super Bowl V.
Nearly two years before the greatest clutch kicker in NFL history, Adam Vinatieri, was born, Baltimore Colts' kicker Jim O'Brien lined up for what would be a 32-yard try to give the Colts the win in Super Bowl V, with the score tied at 13. O'Brien's career would span just four seasons in the NFL, and his career field goal percentage of 55.6% (60 of 108) was nothing special. But now, in just his first NFL season, O'Brien was counted on to hit the kick to win the Super Bowl.
And he nailed it.
Two years before that game, in Super Bowl III, the Colts were stunned when the New York Jets pulled the massive upset, winning 16-7. The Colts had made it back to the Super Bowl looking to make up for their previous loss, having gone 11-2-1 on the season and winning the newly created AFC conference. The Cowboys, the champions of the NFC conference, were 10-4 on the year. On January 17, 1971, in Miami, Florida, the two teams met to play in Super Bowl V.
The last time the Colts had played in the Super Bowl, the legendary quarterback Johnny Unitas did not start the season due to an injury that forced him to miss much of the season. He came in the game in relief of the NFL MVP Earl Morrall, however, and led the Colts to their only score of the game - though it was too little too late. This time was different. This time, it was Unitas starting the game but Morrall finishing it - not before the great Johnny U made his presence felt by tossing a 75-yard scoring toss to Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey.
That scoring play tied the game at 6, and a second quarter Cowboys touchdown put Dallas up 13-6 entering halftime. After a scoreless third quarter, the Colts needed a spark, and that was provided by a turnover. Defensive back Rick Volk picked off a pass, and that set up the offense with a great scoring chance. The Colts once again tied it up shortly thereafter, this time at 13 in the final quarter on a two-yard touchdown run by Tom Nowatzke.
With just over a minute left in the game, the Cowboys looked to mount a drive to win it - but the drive was ended after just two plays when linebacker Mike Curtis intercepted a pass. The Colts ran the ball two times for three yards but most importantly ran off some clock before bringing O'Brien out for the kick. He had missed a kick earlier, though it had been from 52-yards out. This one would be 20-yards shorter, at a 32-yard attempt to win the Super Bowl. And the ball sailed through the uprights with just five seconds left on the clock, giving the Colts their first lead of the game (and of their Super Bowl history) and earning them their first Lombardi Trophy.
The game will go down as one of the ugliest in NFL history, as the two teams combined for a Super Bowl record eleven turnovers (seven of which were committed by the Colts). There were 14 penalties called in the game for 164 yards, though 10 of those penalties (133 yards) were committed by the Cowboys. The MVP award for the game was given to Cowboys' linebacker Chuck Howley - significant not just because a defensive player won the award but also because it still is the only time in Super Bowl history that a player from the losing team was given the award. Therefore, the Colts can accurately claim that they are the only franchise in the NFL with less Super Bowl MVP award winners than Lombardi Trophy. It's that trophy that ultimately matters, however, and the Colts earned their first one in Super Bowl V. It would be 36 years and a nearly 600-mile move before their next chance to play on the biggest stage of them all - which we'll look more at tomorrow.
Statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference page for Super Bowl V.