January 3, 1971
Baltimore Colts 27, Oakland Raiders 17
Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland
BALTIMORE (AP)- Johnny Unitas, who has been special for 15 years
and a play tagged, "This Week's Special," gave the Baltimore
colts a 27-17 upset victory over the Oakland Raiders Sunday and
a berth in the Super Bowl.
Outdueling middle-aged George Blanda in a dramatic, see-saw
battle for the first American Football Conference Championship,
Unitas used a play put into the Baltimore offense just this week
to clinch the struggle before a snow ball throwing crowd of
56,368 in dreary Memorial Stadium.
was this week's special," Coach Don McCafferty explained in the
winner's dressing room. "And we call it 'Cut left, double wing
the play used early in the fourth quarter, Ray Perkins and Jimmy
Orr join Eddie Hinton and Roy Jefferson as receivers while tight
end John Mackey and running back Norm Bulaich come out of the
line-up. It gives Unitas four quick receivers.
wanted to go to Orr," said Unitas, "but I saw Perkins had beat
Nemiah Wilson, and I was able to get the ball to him."
Perkins raced down the left sidelines as Unitas arched the ball.
Wilson seemed to misjudge how far it would carry, and when it
came down at the Oakland 45, Perkins was there and Wilson was
too far away to do any damage. Chased by Wilson the rest of the
way, Perkins scored on the 68-yard play.
gave Baltimore a 27-17 lead, put the game out of Oakland's reach
and sent the Colts into the Super Bowl Jan. 17 against the
Dallas Cowboys, who beat San Francisco 17-10 for the National
Football Conference title.
victory gave each member of the Colts a record guaranteed
winning share of 58,500 and the considerable satisfaction in
gaining the AFC title in their first year in the conference over
the last remaining former AFL team to survive the new series of
it brought Unitas, cunning and cool 37-year-old veteran of 15
pro seasons, all the praise the Raiders could muster.
have not seen Number 19 (Unitas) play better this year," said
Raiders Coach John Madden. "He kept hitting those open guys."
said defensive back Willie Brown, "threw the ball as well as he
Unitas wasn't the only aged marvel on the dirt of Memorial
Stadium. There was also Blanda, the 43-year-old veteran whose
career spanned four decades. And from the moment Blanda replaced
the injured Daryle Lamonica in the second quarter, the battle
resolved around the two heroes of the middle-aged set.
it wound up, Blanda had two touchdowns and the better
statistics, but Unitas had succeeded every time the Colts needed
a key completion and by arching the clincher to Perkins for a
27-17 lead, had left the Raiders with little chance to have
operation overhaul succeed.
gathered all the skills of a career that spanned two decades but
interceptions by Rich Volk and Ray May ended any chances for a
While Unitas brought the Colts in touchdown range twice, his
only touchdown came on the pass to Perkins as he completed just
11 of 30 attempts for 245 yards. But Norm Bulaich got two
touchdowns on runs of two and and Jim O'Brien kicked field goals
of 16 and 23 yards.
Blanda, meanwhile, connected on an AFC record 48-yard in the
first half and the two touchdown passes- 38 to Fred Bilentnikoff
and 15 yards yards Warren Wells. Overall, Blanda completed 17 of
32 passes for 271 yards.
Colts owned a 10-3 halftime lead on O'Brien's 16-yard field goal
and Bulaich's yard run. But not one person in the crowd- 3,500
under capacity- expected it to stay that way.
Blanda, who came on for Lamonica who suffered a pulled left
thigh muscle when he was tackled by defensive end Bubba Smith,
came out throwing in the second half and immediately drove the
Raiders 80 yards to tie the score.
touchdown came on the 38-yard pass to Biletnikoff with just 4:58
gone in the third quarter and with Blanda laying on the ground,
decked by Ron Hilton as he released the ball.
Unitas brought the Colts right back. A 30-yarder to Eddie Hinton
brought the ball to the Oakland 37 and a 16-yarder to the same
receiver moved it to the 18. The drive then stalled and O'Brien
put the Colts ahead 13- 10 with his 23-yard field goal.
Colts defense then stiffened, held Blanda and the Raiders, and
Unitas went to work again from his own 35.
Colts quarterback, whose career appeared at an end during the
1968 season when he was plagued by arm problems, hit Hinton for
13 yards and Roy Jefferson for 11 and 13 to bring the ball to
the Oakland 11. Then he
called on Bulaich for a reverse and the rookie from TCU careened
around left end for 11 yards and the touchdown for a 20-10 lead
with 1:28 left in the third period.
Blanda, however, wasn't finished either. He hit rookie tight end
Ray Chester with a 35-yarder and Wells with a 38-yarder as the
Raiders pushed the Colts backwards. Then he finished off the
80-yard drive with his 15-yarder to Wells.
Wells was hit hard in the endzone, dropping the ball, but under
the rules it was a touchdown as soon as he gained possession and
crossed the goal line. The Colt fans, however, didn't see it
that way, and snowballs were heaved from the stands as the teams
lined up for the conversion.
Baltimore leading now just 20-17, Unitas got the clincher three
plays later, arching one down the left side to Perkins.
Defensive back Nemiah Wilson seemed to misjudge the ball and
when it came down at the Oakland 45,
Perkins was there and Wilson was some five yards away.
Perkins, a four-year veteran who had scored only one previous
touchdown this season, raced the remaining 45 yards to the
Colts took an early lead when Mike Eicheid's 23 yard punt put
them in position for O'Brien's 16-yard field goal.
Another break enabled Unitas to put the Colts ahead 10-0. After
Sam Havrilak recovered a George Atkinson
fumble on the
Oakland 45, Unitas hit Hinton
with a 43-yard pass to the two.
before Oakland had punted, Lamonica had been thrown for a loss
by Bubba Smith. He trotted to the sidelines, and when the
Raiders came on the field after the Colt touchdown, Blanda was
Lamonica never got back in the game, an unfitting climax to a
season that had seen him ranked statistically as the AFC's No. 1
passer while leading the Raiders to the Western title over
defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City with an 8-4-2 record.
the Colts, AFC East Division champions, it was their 13th
victory of the season. They were 11-2-1 during the regular
season and have posted playoff victories Cincinnati and Oakland
enroute to Super Bowl redemption.
Colts lost to the New York Jets in Super Bowl in, becoming the
first National Football League team to lose to an American
League team in pro football's premier spectacle.
Raiders also were looking for Super Bowl redemption. They lost
to Green Bay in Super Bowl II. But, despite winning their
division for a fourth straight year, they won't get a chance at
the $15,000 prize.
Instead, they will take away just the $5,500 that goes to each
member of the losing team.
BAL- FG O'Brien 16
BAL- Bulaich 2 run (O'Brien kick)
OAK- FG Blanda 48 BAL
OAK- Biletnikoff 38 yard pass from Blanda (Blanda kick)
BAL- FG O'Brien 23 BAL
BAL- Bulaich 11 run (O'Brien kick)
OAK- Wells 15 yard pass from Blanda (Blanda kick)
BAL- Perkins 68 yard pass from Unitas (O'Brien kick)