Which Colts team is the greatest in the Super Bowl era?
10. 2014 Indianapolis Colts
An Andrew Luck-led team squeaks into the top 10! This team cruised to a division championship with an 11-5 record thanks to a 40 touchdown season from Andrew Luck.
In the first round of the playoffs, they faced off against the Cincinnati Bengals, and cruised to a relatively easy 16 point victory thanks to a strong effort from the defense, shutting down the high powered Bengals offense and shutting them out in the 2nd half. In the 2nd round, they faced off against Peyton Manning and the Broncos on the road, and again, the defense shined bright, shutting down the explosive Broncos passing attack. Most notably, Vontae Davis had perhaps the best game of his career, as he completely shut down Demaryius Thomas throughout the entire game. They then faced off against the Patriots in the infamous Deflategate game and the rest is history...
This team, while talented at key positions, was driven by the play of Andrew Luck and his monstrous season gave the Colts a chance against anybody.
9. 2004 Indianapolis Colts
The 2004 Colts featured a record-breaking season from Peyton Manning. Manning broke the record for most touchdowns in a season, throwing 49 touchdowns. Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison and Brandon Stokely all had massive years as well. It was a big coming out party for the Colts.
They cruised to another 12 win season and easily won the division. They dominated the Broncos in the first round of the playoffs with Manning posting a perfect passer rating in the game. In the next round, for the second year in a row, the Colts faced off against the Patriots in Foxborough and suffered a tough loss, with the Pats D dominating the record-breaking Colts offense. It was another step forward for the Colts, but their path to the Super Bowl was once again halted by the Patriots.
8. 2007 Indianapolis Colts
Unfortunately, the 2007 Colts were another one of those Colts teams to dominate in the regular season only to fall short in the first round of the playoffs. This group felt no effects of a Super Bowl hangover and started the season 7-0. They finished the year 13-3 and won a highly competitive AFC South.
In a game marred by turnovers and dumb mistakes, the Colts ended up losing to the Chargers, who lost their starting quarterback and running back to injuries in the game. It was a frustrating loss as the Colts offense wasn’t an offense that made too many dumb mistakes and it was usually their defense that ended up costing them games. Nevertheless, the Colts lost an ugly playoff game in their season as the defending Super Bowl champions.
7. 1995 Indianapolis Colts
The Cardiac Colts were an exciting team to watch! Led by Jim Harbaugh, this 1995 Colts unit squeaked into the playoffs with a 9-7 record. Their magical run started in the first round against the Chargers (in San Diego). Up 21-17 heading into the 4th quarter, the Colts ended up pulling away and winning by 15 thanks to a huge performance by Zack Crockett. Next up were the #1 ranked Chiefs, led by Joe Montana. The Colts were big underdogs, but came away with the 10-7 win, setting up a matchup with the Steelers in the AFC Championship. In what was a back-and-forth game, the Colts ended up having a chance to win the game in the last minute. Down by four, Jim Harbaugh led the Colts down the field, leaving the Colts one last chance for a touchdown. On the last play of the game, about 35 yards away from the end-zone, Harbaugh heaved a hail mary into the end-zone and it appeared that the pass was caught, but the referee made the very difficult but correct call, calling the pass incomplete as the ball went through the receiver’s hands and hit the ground. Their miracle run was over, but they walked away with a lot of fans.
This group was special and it was the first good team in the Indianapolis era. It wasn’t an overly talented team, but the play of Jim Harbaugh carried them into the playoffs. This was the team that put the Indianapolis Colts on the football map.
6. 2005 Indianapolis Colts
The 2005 Colts were another one of those Colts teams that went undefeated into the month of November and December. They started the season 13-0, and won every game by at least 7 points, an extremely impressive feat in any era. Then Michael Turner broke out and the Colts suffered their first loss in the middle of December. Nevertheless, they took the #1 seed and rolled into the playoffs with a lot of momentum.
Mike Vanderjagt was a member of the Colts, and while he was a fantastic kicker on paper, when the big game moments came around, Vanderjagt was known for his chokes. Unfortunately, he choked with the game on the line and the Colts were upset in the Divisional Round by the eventual Super Bowl Champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was a tough end to the season, but the fact remains that this was a fantastic team with a defense that was slowly but surely turning things around.
5. 2003 Indianapolis Colts
The 2003 Colts were a fun team to watch and their streak of 12+ win seasons and division championships started with this group. The group featured one of the best offensive lines in the league (led by Tarik Glenn and Jeff Saturday), a young emerging quarterback, one of the best running backs in the league and a dynamic receiving corps. This group battled against the Titans all season for the division crown, but the Colts ended up holding on for the division championship.
In the playoffs, they destroyed the Broncos in the first round and won a shootout against the Chiefs. They met the Patriots in the AFC Championship and while they put up a fight (something you can’t say about many Colts teams against the Pats), they fell short against the eventual Super Bowl champions. While Manning had an ugly game, this game asserted to many Colts fans that the Colts were for real and were going to be a force for many years to come.
4. 1968 Baltimore Colts
The 1968 Colts were one of the best teams to never win the Super Bowl. After dominating the regular season going 13-1, they breezed through the playoffs with two easy victories before facing off against Joe Namath and the Jets in the Super Bowl.
The Colts were favoured by 18 points and were expected to romp the Jets. As most of you know, the Jets pulled off one of the greatest upsets in the history of football (a victory guaranteed by Joe Namath) as the Colts lost by 9. The Colts only lost by 9, but the Jets dominated the entire game and held the Colts off the board for the majority of the game. Many Colts, to this day, attest that the game was rigged, but we’ll save conspiracy theories for another day.
Nevertheless, this was a special Colts team with many Colts legends that failed to win their last game.
3. 1970 Baltimore Colts
The first Super Bowl winning Colts team, led by the great Johnny Unitas. The Colts had suffered serious heartbreak two years prior, but they bounced back quick, amassing an 11-2-1 record and cruising through the playoffs.
Their Super Bowl matchup against the Cowboys wasn’t so easy. The game featured a tipped touchdown pass to John Mackey (one of the most famous plays in Colts history) and the craziest, weirdest flea flicker you’ll ever see. While the botched punt attempt in 2015 is certainly the ugliest play in Colts history, the botched flea flicker from the 1970 Super Bowl is up there.
The Colts trailed by 7 heading into the fourth quarter, but a quick touchdown thanks to an interception in the middle of the quarter tied the game. With Johnny Unitas on the sidelines due to an injury suffered in the second quarter, Earl Morrall led the Colts down the field, setting up a potential game winning field goal by Jim O’Brien. O’Brien nailed the 32 yarder as time expired and the Colts got their first Super Bowl win!
If you are interested in seeing the game, here is a Youtube link to an NFL Films Presents episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eqqIj8AFQc
2. 2009 Indianapolis Colts
This phenomenal Colts team breezed through the regular season, starting the season 14-0 and having a legitimate chance at the undefeated season. They then cruised through the playoffs with two straightforward wins, leading to a Super Bowl matchup against the Saints. The Saints were the feel-good story team and had some sort of divinity on their side that night. The Colts led at the half before falling apart in the 2nd half, resulting in an 14 point loss.
The Colts team that year was something special. Manning had one of his best receiving corps in his entire career, as well as a top notch offensive line. The defense, led by their two ferocious pass rushers in the middle of their primes, was legitimate and in the top 15 in the league. Everything was clicking for the Colts that year.
1.2006 Indianapolis Colts
The second Super Bowl winning Colts team is number 1 in my books! This team had a high-powered offense led by Peyton Manning, but it was their defense that won them the Super Bowl.
The 2006 season was filled with a lot of ups and downs, from the comeback win against the Patriots in the AFC Championship (arguably the greatest game in Colts history) to allowing 375 yards on the ground to the Jaguars. The Colts weren’t blowing teams out in the regular season, but rather, were winning tight, last minute games. Nevertheless, they still won 12 games and the division.
Entering the playoffs, most experts picked against the Colts as their defense was playing very poorly and they had experienced some tough playoff losses as favourites in recent years. In their first playoff game, they faced off against the top running back in the NFL over the previous two seasons, Larry Johnson. The Colts had the league’s worst run defense, but the return of Bob Sanders changed a lot. The Colts shut down Johnson and handily beat the Chiefs in the first round. After a 5 field goal performance by Adam Vinatieri against the Ravens in a Divisional Round win, the Colts faced off against the Patriots. In the AFC Championship against their arch rivals, the Colts fell behind by 18 points in the 1st half. Slowly but surely, the Colts crawled their way back and they eventually tied the game at 21. After trading touchdowns and field goals (including one by Jeff Saturday), the Patriots ended up taking the lead late in the game thanks to a Gostkowski field goal. They were leading 34-31 with a few minutes left. After a frantic drive, the Colts pounded the rock on the last couple of plays and Joseph Addai ran it in to put the Colts up by 4. On the ensuing drive, Tom Brady attempted to lead the Patriots down the field, but his pass was intercepted by Marlin Jackson in what is deemed by many to be the greatest play in Colts history. It was, in my opinion, the greatest game in Colts history.
The Colts went on to the Super Bowl in the pouring rain, and after some scares early on, the Colts ended up pulling away to win the game. The game had its moments but it’s obvious that their real Super Bowl was against the Patriots. This group was special and they’re very deserving of the top spot on this list.