1968 Baltimore Colts season

The 1968 Baltimore Colts season was the 16th season for the team in the National Football League. Led by sixth-year head coach Don Shula, they finished the regular season with a record of 13 wins and 1 loss, and won the Western Conference's Coastal division.

The previous season, the Colts' record was 11–1–2, tied for the best in the league, but were excluded from the playoffs. They lost a tiebreaker with the Los Angeles Rams for the Coastal Division title in 1967; the other three teams in the NFL postseason, all division winners, had nine wins each.

In 1968, Baltimore won the Western Conference playoff game with the Minnesota Vikings and the NFL Championship Game in a shutout of the Cleveland Browns, but then lost to the New York Jets of the American Football League in Super Bowl III.[1] Hall of fame quarterback Johnny Unitas had been injured during the pre-season, so Earl Morrall led the offense. Shula decided to bring Unitas back in during the second half of the Super Bowl, to no avail.

1968 Baltimore Colts season
Head coachDon Shula
OwnerCarroll Rosenbloom
Home fieldMemorial Stadium
Division place1st NFL Coastal
Playoff finishWon Western Conference Championship Game (Vikings, 24–14)
Won NFL Championship Game
(at Browns, 34–0)
Lost Super Bowl III
(vs. Jets, 7-16)

NFL Draft

Round Pick Player Position School/Club Team



1968 Baltimore Colts staff
Front Office

Coaching Staff

Offensive Coaches

Defensive Coaches


1968 Baltimore Colts roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

None - vacant

Practice/Taxi squad {{{practice_squad}}}

Rookies in italics

Regular season


Week Date Opponent Result Record Game Site Attendance
1 September 15, 1968 San Francisco 49ers W, 27–10 1–0 Memorial Stadium
2 September 22, 1968 at Atlanta Falcons W, 28–20 2–0 Atlanta Stadium
3 September 29, 1968 at Pittsburgh Steelers W, 41–7 3–0 Pitt Stadium
4 October 6, 1968 Chicago Bears W, 28–7 4–0 Memorial Stadium
5 October 13, 1968 at San Francisco 49ers W, 42–14 5–0 Kezar Stadium
6 October 20, 1968 Cleveland Browns  L, 20–30 5–1 Memorial Stadium
7 October 27, 1968 Los Angeles Rams W, 27–10 6–1 Memorial Stadium
8 November 3, 1968 at New York Giants W, 26–0 7–1 Yankee Stadium
9 November 10, 1968 at Detroit Lions W, 27–10 8–1 Tiger Stadium
10 November 17, 1968 St. Louis Cardinals W, 27–0 9–1 Memorial Stadium
11 November 24, 1968 Minnesota Vikings W, 21–9 10–1 Memorial Stadium
12 December 1, 1968 Atlanta Falcons W, 44–0 11–1 Memorial Stadium
13 December 7, 1968 at Green Bay Packers W, 16–3 12–1 Lambeau Field
14 December 15, 1968 at Los Angeles Rams W, 28–24 13–1 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum


NFL Coastal
Baltimore Colts 13 1 0 .929 6–0 10–0 402 144 W8
Los Angeles Rams 10 3 1 .769 3–2–1 6–3–1 312 200 L2
San Francisco 49ers 7 6 1 .538 2–3–1 4–5–1 303 310 W1
Atlanta Falcons 2 12 0 .143 0–6 1–9 170 389 L4

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.


The team made it to the playoffs as winners of the Coastal division and hosted the Minnesota Vikings of the Central division for the Western Conference title. The Colts took a 21–0 lead and went on to win 24–14.[2] They then traveled to Cleveland to take on the Browns in the NFL Championship Game. Baltimore's only loss of the season came at home to the Browns in October, falling 20–30.[3][4] In late December, the Colts defense was on top of their game as they shut out the Browns 34–0 to gain their third NFL title.[5][6][7] The 1968 Colts were being touted as "the greatest football team in history."

In Super Bowl III, the Colts took on the heavy underdog New York Jets led by quarterback Joe Namath, with the Colts favored by 17 to 21 points.[8][9][10] Before the game, former NFL star and coach Norm Van Brocklin ridiculed the AFL, saying "This will be Namath's first professional football game." Three days before the game, Namath was being heckled in Miami and he responded by saying: "We’re going to win Sunday. I guarantee it."[10][11][12] The Jets beat the Colts 16–7 in one of the biggest upsets in American sports history.[1]

Perhaps the biggest effect of the Colts' loss is that the predominant sentiment that the AFL was not strong enough to merge with the NFL was firmly squelched.[13]

Playoff Round Date Opponent Result Game Site Attendance
Western Conference December 22, 1968 Minnesota Vikings W, 24–14 Memorial Stadium
NFL Championship December 29, 1968 at Cleveland Browns W, 34–0 Municipal Stadium
Super Bowl January 12, 1969 New York Jets  L, 7–16 Orange Bowl


Earl Morrall: AP NFL MVP

Don Shula: AP NFL Coach of the Year


  1. ^ a b Strickler, George (January 13, 1969). "Jets score Super upset over Colts". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, section 3.
  2. ^ Bledsoe, Terry (December 23, 1968). "Kapp, the tough Viking, finds Colts even tougher". Milwaukee Journal. p. 10, part 2.
  3. ^ "Browns prove Colts are human". Toledo Blade. Ohio. Associated Press. October 21, 1968. p. 25.
  4. ^ "Browns hand Colts first loss". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. October 21, 1968. p. 1, part 2.
  5. ^ Strickler, George (December 30, 1968). "Colts crush Browns for NFL title". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, section 3.
  6. ^ Scholl, Bill (December 30, 1968). "Colts gain revenge, wallop Browns, 34-0, to win National League crown". Youngstown Vindicator. Ohio. p. 12.
  7. ^ Hannen, John (January 30, 1968). "Colts' Matte returned home to KO Cleveland". Toledo Blade. Ohio. p. 18.
  8. ^ Strickler, George (January 10, 1969). "Colts soar to 21-point favorites". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, section 3.
  9. ^ "Jets' Namath carries hopes for AFL prestige today". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. January 12, 1969. p. 1, sports.
  10. ^ a b "Quarterbacks Super Bowl topics". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. January 11, 1969. p. 13.
  11. ^ Dorman, Larry (January 15, 1989). "A guarantee of greatness". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvania. Knight-Ridder. p. C1.
  12. ^ Zinser, Lynn (May 25, 2012). "Pregame Talk Is Cheap, but This Vow Resonates". The New York Times. p. B10. Archived from the original on May 25, 2012.
  13. ^ Funk, Ben (January 13, 1969). "Jets make believers out of Colts, NFL". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. Associated Press. p. 3B.

See also

Earl Morrall

Earl Edwin Morrall (May 17, 1934 – April 25, 2014) was an American football player who was a quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) for twenty-one seasons. Morrall, who also occasionally punted, played 21 seasons in the National Football League as both a starter and reserve. In the latter capacity, he became known as one of the greatest backup quarterbacks in NFL history. During the 1968 Baltimore Colts season, he filled in for an injured Johnny Unitas leading to an NFL championship shutout victory and Super Bowl III, which they lost to the New York Jets. For the 1972 Miami Dolphins season (both under coach Don Shula) he filled in for an injured Bob Griese leading to Super Bowl VII and the only perfect season in NFL history. Morrall made Pro Bowl appearances following the 1957 and 1968 seasons.

Division championships (16)
Conference championships (7)
League championships (5)
Retired numbers
Current league affiliations
Seasons (67)

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