1968 NFL Championship Game

The 1968 National Football League championship game was the 36th annual championship game. The winner of the game represented the NFL in the third AFL-NFL World Championship Game also called the Super Bowl. The NFL title game was held December 29 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio.[1][2]

1968 NFL Championship Game
Baltimore Colts Cleveland Browns
34 0
1234 Total
BAL 017710 34
CLE 0000 0
DateDecember 29, 1968
StadiumCleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
RefereeBud Brubaker
TV in the United States
AnnouncersJack Buck, Pat Summerall,
and Tom Brookshier
Radio in the United States
AnnouncersBob Reynolds
Cleveland is located in the United States
Location in the United States


The Baltimore Colts (13–1) won the Coastal Division and defeated the Minnesota Vikings 24–14 in the Western Conference championship game. The Colts were led by head coach Don Shula and reserve quarterback Earl Morrall. This was the Colts' fourth championship game appearance since joining the NFL in 1953, with a 2–1 record in the title game.

Cleveland Browns (10–4) were the only team to defeat Baltimore during the regular season, and won the Century Division. The Browns defeated the Dallas Cowboys 31–20 in the Eastern Conference championship game. The Browns were led by head coach Blanton Collier, running back Leroy Kelly, and quarterback Bill Nelsen. This was the Browns' tenth NFL championship game appearance since joining the NFL in 1950, with a 4–5 record in the title game.

Cleveland won the regular season game 30–20 ten weeks earlier in Baltimore, but the Colts were six-point favorites for the championship game.[1] The 1968 game was a rematch of the 1964 title game and at the same venue, but with far different results.[3]

This was the sixth and final NFL championship game held at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

Game summary

Baltimore Colts 34, Cleveland Browns 0

Baltimore held Cleveland to just 173 total yards and avenged their only regular season loss of the year with a dominating shutout win. Cleveland crossed midfield only twice, just once in each half, and kicker Don Cockroft missed three field goal attempts.[4]

The game began promising for Cleveland as Browns defensive back Ben Davis wiped out a scoring chance for Baltimore on their opening drive when he intercepted a pass from Earl Morrall on the Cleveland 14-yard line. The Browns then drove to the Colts 35-yard line, with Bill Nelsen completing passes to Paul Warfield and Milt Morin for gains of 16 and 22 yards. However, Nelsen was dropped for a 7-yard loss on first down by Fred Miller and Ordell Braase. He managed to lead the team back to the 35 by the time they got to 4th down, but Cockroft 42-yard field goal attempt was blocked by defensive tackle Bubba Smith. The Colts then took over and drove to a 3-0 lead on a 28-yard field goal by Lou Michaels.

In the second quarter, Baltimore completely took over the game. Colts running back Tom Matte scored on a 1-yard touchdown run, giving the Colts a 10-0 lead. Later on, the Colts seemed to blow a scoring chance when tight end John Mackey lost a fumble that was recovered by Erich Barnes and returned 9 yards to the Browns 23. But on the next play, linebacker Mike Curtis intercepted a pass from Nelsen on the 33, leading to Matte's 12-yard touchdown run that gave Baltimore a 17-0 lead going into halftime.

After halftime, Cleveland forced a punt and got the ball on their own 40, where they proceeded to drive to the Colts 38. But once again their drive stalled and Cockroft missed a 50-yard field goal attempt. He got another chance as a result of a penalty on the play, but missed again from 45 yards on his next attempt. After an exchange of punts, Baltimore got the ball on the Cleveland 48 and drove to a 24-0 lead on Matte's third touchdown of the day. Meanwhile, Nelsen was benched and replaced by Frank Ryan, but this did nothing to improve Cleveland's misfortunes. On his first play, he fumbled the snap, and linebacker Don Shinnick recovered the ball on the Browns 20-yard line, leading to Michaels' second field goal, giving Baltimore a 27-0 lead on the second play of the 4th quarter. Ryan completed just 2 of 6 pass attempts for the rest of the game, while Colts running back Timmy Brown scored the final points on a 4-yard touchdown run.

Matte went to Shaw High School in East Cleveland, Ohio, and was a former Ohio State quarterback. He was the sole offensive star of the game, rushing for 88 yards and 3 touchdowns, while also catching 2 passes for 15 yards.[5]

Scoring summary

Sunday, December 29, 1968
Kickoff: 2:35 p.m. EST[2]

  • First quarter
    • no scoring
  • Second quarter
    • BAL – FG Lou Michaels 28, 3–0 BAL
    • BAL – Tom Matte 1 run (Michaels kick), 10–0 BAL
    • BAL – Matte 12 run (Michaels kick), 17–0 BAL
  • Third quarter
    • BAL – Matte 2 run (Michaels kick), 24–0 BAL
  • Fourth quarter
    • BAL – FG Michaels 10, 27–0 BAL
    • BAL – Tim Brown 4 run (Michaels kick), 34–0 BAL


The NFL had six game officials in 1968; the side judge was added in 1978.

Players' shares

The Colts players each received $10,000 and the Browns players about $7,000 each.[6]

See also


  • You Tube - 1968 AFL & NFL Championship Games (Highlights) - from NBC pre-game for Super Bowl III w/ Curt Gowdy
  • [1] - 1968 NFL Championship Game - CBS broadcast: 3rd and 4th quarters plus postgame


  1. ^ a b Bledsoe, Terry (December 29, 1968). "Poor condition of gridiron may alter NFL title game". Milwaukee Journal. p. 1, sports.
  2. ^ a b Hand, Jack (December 29, 1968). "Colts rate edge over Browns in title game today". Youngstown Vindicator. Ohio. Associated Press. p. d1.
  3. ^ a b Strickler, George (December 30, 1968). "Colts crush Browns for NFL title". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, section 3.
  4. ^ Scholl, Bill (December 30, 1968). "Colts gain revenge, wallop Browns, 34-0, to win National League crown". Youngstown Vindicator. p. 12.
  5. ^ http://www.cleveland.com/brownshistory/plaindealer/index.ssf?/browns/more/history/19681229BROWNS.html Archived June 17, 2012, at WebCite
  6. ^ "Facts and figures". Milwaukee Journal. December 29, 1968. p. 1, sports.

[2] Chuck Heaton, "Browns Title Bid Ends, 34–0", Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 29, 1968, Browns history database retrieved December 12, 2007

Coordinates: 41°30′22″N 81°42′00″W / 41.506°N 81.700°W

1968 American Football League Championship Game

The 1968 AFL Championship Game was the ninth annual AFL championship game, played on December 29 at Shea Stadium in Queens, New York City, New York. It matched the defending champion Oakland Raiders (12–2) of the Western Division and the host New York Jets (11–3) of the Eastern Division, who were slight favorites. The Raiders had hosted a tiebreaker playoff game the week before against the Kansas City Chiefs (12–2) to determine the Western Division champion, while the Eastern champion Jets were idle.

The Jets defeated the Raiders 27–23 to win the championship and the chance to play the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.

1968 in sports

1968 in sports describes the year's events in world sport.

1969 NFL Championship Game

The 1969 NFL Championship Game was the 37th and final championship game prior to the AFL–NFL merger, played January 4, 1970, at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota, a suburb south of Minneapolis. The winner of the game earned a berth in Super Bowl IV in New Orleans against the champion of the American Football League.The Minnesota Vikings of the Western Conference hosted the Cleveland Browns of the Eastern Conference. It was the Vikings' first appearance in the title game, while the Browns were making their second straight appearance and fourth of the 1960s.

Minnesota had a regular season record of 12–2, including a 51–3 defeat of the Browns eight weeks earlier on November 9. The Vikings defeated the Los Angeles Rams 23–20 in the Western Conference championship a week earlier at Met Stadium. They were coached by Bud Grant and led on offense by quarterback Joe Kapp and wide receiver Gene Washington. The defense allowed only 133 points (9½ per game) during the regular season and their four defensive linemen were known as the "Purple People Eaters."

Cleveland was 10–3–1 during the regular season and had upset the Dallas Cowboys 38–14 at the Cotton Bowl for the Eastern Conference title. The Browns were coached by Blanton Collier; Bill Nelsen was the starting quarterback and Gary Collins and Paul Warfield were star wide receivers for the team.

Although not as severe as the "Ice Bowl" of 1967, the weather conditions were bitterly cold at 8 °F (−13 °C), with a sub-zero wind chill factor. Cleveland linebacker Jim Houston suffered frostbite during the game and was hospitalized.

Minnesota was favored by nine points to win the title game at home, and they won, 27–7.Of the four NFL teams that joined the league during the AFL era (1960s), Minnesota was the sole winner of a pre-merger NFL championship. The Dallas Cowboys entered the league in 1960 and lost two NFL title games to the Green Bay Packers, in 1966 and 1967. The expansion Atlanta Falcons (1966) and New Orleans Saints (1967) did not qualify for the postseason until 1978 and 1987, respectively.

The Vikings would go on to lose Super Bowl IV 23-7 to the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs. Starting with the 1970 season, the NFL champion was determined in the Super Bowl, beginning with Super Bowl V.

Bobby Boyd

Robert Dean Boyd (December 3, 1937 – August 28, 2017) was a National Football League (NFL) cornerback who played for the Baltimore Colts in a nine-year career from 1960 to 1968.

History of the New York Jets

The history of the New York Jets American football team began in 1959 with the founding of the Titans of New York, an original member of the American Football League (AFL); they began actual play the following year. The team had little success in its early years. After playing three seasons at the Polo Grounds, the team changed its name to the New York Jets, and moved into newly built Shea Stadium in 1964. In January 1965, the Jets signed University of Alabama quarterback Joe Namath to a then-record contract. The team showed gradual improvement in the late 1960s, posting its first winning record in 1967 and winning its only American Football League championship in 1968. By winning the title, New York earned the right to play in Super Bowl III against the champions of the National Football League (NFL), the Baltimore Colts. The Jets defeated the Colts in the game; in the aftermath of the upset, the AFL was deemed a worthy partner to the NFL as the two leagues merged.

Following the merger, the Jets fell into mediocrity; Namath was dogged by injuries through much of his later career. In 1981, New York qualified for the playoffs for the first time in the post-Namath era. They reached the AFC Championship Game in 1982; they were defeated on a rain-soaked Orange Bowl field by the Miami Dolphins. Beginning with the 1984 season, the team played in New Jersey's Giants Stadium. The team started the 1986 season with a 10–1 record, but the injury-plagued Jets lost their last five regular season games and relinquished a ten-point fourth quarter lead to lose in double overtime to the Cleveland Browns in the playoffs.

In the following eleven seasons, New York had limited success, reaching the playoffs only once and enduring a string of disastrous seasons, including a 1–15 record in 1996. The following year, the Jets hired two-time Super Bowl winning coach Bill Parcells. The new coach guided the team to its most successful season since the merger in 1998; the Jets finished 12–4 and reached the AFC Championship Game, in which they fell to the Denver Broncos. The team made five playoff appearances in the 2000s, their most of any decade. In 2009 and 2010, the Jets achieved back-to-back appearances in the AFC Championship Game, losing to the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2010, the team began to play in MetLife Stadium, constructed near the now-demolished Giants Stadium.

Super Bowl III

Super Bowl III was the third AFL–NFL Championship Game in professional American football, and the first to officially bear the trademark name "Super Bowl". The game, played on January 12, 1969, at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, is regarded as one of the greatest upsets in both American football history and in the recorded history of sports. The 18-point underdog American Football League (AFL) champion New York Jets defeated the National Football League (NFL) champion Baltimore Colts by a score of 16–7.

This was the first Super Bowl victory for the AFL. Before the game, most sports writers and fans believed that AFL teams were less talented than NFL clubs, and expected the Colts to defeat the Jets by a wide margin. Baltimore posted a 13–1 record during the 1968 NFL season before defeating the Cleveland Browns, 34–0, in the 1968 NFL Championship Game. The Jets finished the 1968 AFL season at 11–3, and defeated the Oakland Raiders, 27–23, in the 1968 AFL Championship Game.

Jets quarterback Joe Namath famously made an appearance three days before the Super Bowl at the Miami Touchdown Club and personally guaranteed his team's victory. His team backed up his words by controlling most of the game, building a 16–0 lead by the fourth quarter off of a touchdown run by Matt Snell and three field goals by Jim Turner. Colts quarterback Earl Morrall threw three interceptions before being replaced by Johnny Unitas, who then led Baltimore to its only touchdown, during the last few minutes of the game. With the victory, the Jets were the only winning team to score only one touchdown (either offensive, defensive, or special teams) until the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. Namath, who completed 17 out of 28 passes for 206 yards, was named as the Super Bowl's most valuable player, making him the first player in Super Bowl history to be declared MVP without personally achieving a touchdown.

Timothy Brown (actor)

Thomas Allen Brown (born May 24, 1937), known also as Timothy Brown and Timmy Brown, is an American singer, former professional American football player, and actor.

Tommy McDonald (American football)

Thomas Franklin McDonald (July 26, 1934 – September 24, 2018) was an American football flanker in the National Football League (NFL) for the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Rams, Atlanta Falcons, and Cleveland Browns. He played college football for the Oklahoma Sooners. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame.

Baltimore Colts 1968 NFL champions
Division championships (16)
Conference championships (7)
League championships (5)
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Seasons (67)
Key personnel
Culture and lore
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NFL Championship Game
AFL Championship Game
AFL-NFL World Championship Games[1]
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