It was 50 years ago this month, January 12th, 1969 to be exact, when Super Bowl III became one of football’s greatest upsets. The game was played at the Orange Bowl Stadium in Miami, Florida, between the heavily favored (18 points) Baltimore Colts and the New York Jets. It was the third title game between the AFL champions and the NFL champions, and it was the first to take the name “Super Bowl.” The game was mostly dominated by defense on both sides of the field, but the outcome came down to the final seconds.
The Jets had a surprisingly strong performance and clearly outplayed the Colts on defense. New York intercepted four passes that game, two of which were by star corner back, Randy Beverly. Three of the four interceptions came in the second quarter alone, which was the highest scoring quarter for the Colts that season. The defense put constant pressure on Baltimore quarterback Earl Morrall, causing him to make numerous mistakes, and he was benched towards the end of quarter three. He was replaced by Johnny Unitas, who also struggled under pressure from the Jets’ defensive line. New York’s offensive stats were also satisfactory and certainly exceeded expectations. Quarterback Joe Namath completed 18 of 27 passes for a total of 206 yards. However, it was the eighth time that season where he won a game without throwing for a single touchdown. Running back Matt Snell had 30 carries for 121 yards, and split back George Sauer caught 8 passes for an impressive 133 yards.
In the fourth quarter, pressure from the Jets continued to guide the game’s course. Namath’s offense was able to chew up the clock, and Namath himself didn’t throw a single pass in those last 15 minutes. The only Baltimore score was a one yard touchdown run by fullback Jerry Hall, which came with 3:19 to go in the game. The colts managed to recover an onside kick and drive down to the New York 19-yard line. Unfortunately for them, they were held and turned the ball over on downs. The Jets ran out the clock, and when Baltimore received the ball with only a few seconds remaining, they were able to gain no more than 15 yards. As the clock hit zeroes, MVP Joe Namath and the New York Jets won Super Bowl III by a final score of 16-7.