Super Bowl V Review: Colts vs. Cowboys
By Loot, NFL Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Date: January 17, 1971
Site: Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida
Point-Spread: Baltimore Colts -2.5/Dallas Cowboys +2.5
Score: Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13
MVP: LB Chuck Howley
This was the first Super Bowl involving a totally-unified NFL. Former NFL teams Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Baltimore joined the AFL to give each conference 13 teams. It would be the second superbowl for the Colts, who had lost two years ago in a titanic upset to the Jets. It would be the first of 7 Super Bowl appearances for the Cowboys, who would have to wait until the following season to notch their first win.
Super Bowl 5 itself was terribly sloppy, especially considering that the winning team turned the ball over 7 times. Penalty flags were flying all over the field, as the Cowboys alone got flagged 10 times at the cost of 133 yards. The MVP award went to a linebacker on the losing team, to further illustrate the lack of any great play, with no one putting up great stats. No team scored from 7:53 in the second quarter to 7:35 of the 4th quarter. Nevertheless, Super Bowl 1971 is notable for being the first Super Bowl that actually had any suspense--with the final and deciding score coming at the very end of the game.
Baltimore compiled an 11-2-1 season record, while Dallas was 10-4. The Colts defeated the Bengals 17-0 and the Steelers 27-17 to get into their second Super Bowl. Dallas beat Detroit by the odd score of 5-0 and the San Francisco 49ers 17-10 to get to the big game. Super Bowl 1971 was the third of the first 5 Super Bowls to be held in Miami’s Orange Bowl. Baltimore, having self-destructed in their first Bowl attempt, looked to make amends.
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Aging Johnny Unitas led the way for the Colts in the big game, with a deep running game and a passing game that featured the best in the business in WR John Mackey. Big Bubba Smith was still wreaking havoc on the line with feared Ted Hendricks in the middle. Dallas was going with gutsy QB Craig Morton, who had tools on offense like lightning-fast WR Bob Hayes and a slew of good backs who had filled in well with RB Calvin Hill out for the year. Dallas featured the “Doomsday Defense”-- a shutdown unit that had been air-tight in the final half of the season.
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First Half: Each team struggled early on this Super Bowl Sunday to gain much offensive foothold. Cowboys LB Chuck Howley picked off Johnny Unitas, but the Cowboys could not capitalize. Forced to punt, Dallas defensive back Cliff Harris recovered a fumble deep in Baltimore territory. Dallas couldn’t get a touchdown, despite starting at the Baltimore 9-yard line and had to settle for a Mike Clark field goal to go up 3-0.
A 47-yard Morton throw to Bob Hayes again got the Cowboys deep into Baltimore territory, but a resolute Colts defense pushed Dallas back and forced them to settle for another field goal to take the score to 6-0. Then the Colts finally got some good fortune in the big game. A deflected pass went off Baltimore receiver Eddie Hinton and defender Mel Renfro’s hands, before being snared by John Mackey, who ran it in from 75 yards. A missed field goal had the score knotted at 6 apiece.
A Unitas fumble gave Dallas the ball again, who answered with a touchdown of their own, when RB Duane Thomas caught a 7-yard pass from Morton to go up 13-6. Unitas was then hit as he threw a pick and knocked out of the game, paving the way for Earl Morrall, who was the goat of Super Bowl III. The Cowboys failed to score off the turnover. The Colts then took the ball all the way down the field, only to painfully turn the ball over on downs after having a first down on the Dallas 2-yard line.
Second Half: The second half was plagued by turnovers, penalties, and controversial calls, as the game became quite unsightly. Back and forth it went, with neither team able to score despite being painfully close. At 13-6, Baltimore safety Rick Volk picked off Craig Morton and returned it to the Dallas 3-yard line. The Colts punched it in and it was now tied up at 13 each.
Dallas had great field position late in the game, but penalties and miscues cost them. A pass intended for Dan Reeves (who never seemed to thrive in Super Bowls, either as a coach or player) went through his hands and was intercepted by Mike Curtis. With the ball now on the Dallas 28-yard line. Jim O’Brien was then able to atone for his missed extra point by kicking the winning 32-yard field goal with 5 seconds left.
In the end, it was a suspenseful game, but one that was so sloppy--it is not remembered as a being a particularly good game. The Colts earned their Super Bowl glory, while Dallas, who won the following superbowl, got some much-needed big game experience en route to becoming one of the great big game teams.