Calls brilliant game, picks Colts apart on passes — Super star in Super Bowl
by John G Griffin
Miami, January 13, 1969 — Broadway Joe Namath, who could have been put down as just a loud-mouth-failure, suddenly is the new “Super Star” of pro football.
The American Football League, which could have been a laughing stock after a third straight whipping by the “big boys” of the National Football League, suddenly owns the world champion team — the New York Jets.
And the “Super Bowl” game itself, which was getting a lot of nasty criticism as a mismatch, suddenly is vindicated with probably a new lease on life as a meeting of the AFL and NFL champs.
All this was wrought by three of the most amazing hours ever seen on a football field anywhere — the 16-7 upset victory by Namath’s 18-point underdog Jets over the Colts in Sunday’s third annual Super Bowl game before a capacity 75,377 at the Orange Bowl.
And Namath, who put his personal reputation squarely on the line with a lot of big talk during the past week, was the guy who did the whole thing.
Imagine what folks would have said of Babe Ruth that time he pointed to the center field stands in Chicago — if Ruth had struck out, instead of hitting his “called” home run.
That’s exactly what they would have said about Namath if the Jets had lost. Because, among many other things he said before Sunday’s game, Joe said, “I guarantee is,” when asked if the Jets could upset the Colts.
How well did Broadway Joe’s “brag” pay off?
The brag — “if the line gives me enough protection to pass, we’ll win. I’ll pick ’em apart.”
The fact — the line protected Namath so that he was thrown only twice while trying to pass. So he completed a Super Bowl pass record of 17 of 28 passes for 206 yards, literally picking apart the Colts’ famed zone defenses.
The brag — “Four or five quarterbacks in the AFL are better than (the Colts’) Earl Morrall.”
The fact — Morrall completed only six passes for 71 yards, was intercepted three times, and finally taken out in favor of Johnny Unitas late in the game. It was near humiliation for the NFL’s “most valuable player” award winner.
“I thought we’d win when I said those things,” said Namath after the game. “I wasn’t trying to be cocky or anything.”
Namath’s victory strategy was explained this way: “he established the Jets’ running game early, and he stuck to it.”
The Jets’ only touchdown came in the second period when Matt Snell, who gained 121 yards rushing, sped four yards around the right side of the Colt line, a surprisingly productive area for the Jets all day.
Jim Turner added field goals of 32, 30 and nine yards in the second half — and not until all those 16 points were on the board did Unitas save the Colts from a shutout by steering Baltimore on an 80-yard fourth quarter drive that ended in a one-yard touchdown plunge by Jerry Hill.
Namath’s passing was brilliant — but football men on both sides said his signal-calling was even greater.
“We owe this to Joe’s ability and our ability to read their defenses,” said end George Sauer, who caught eight passes for 133 yards.