Super Bowl V Revisited

Flashback Friday Super Bowl V Revisited

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To the best of my knowledge, no complete version of Super Bowl V has ever been circulated. Websites where fans trade video had a game fragment that lasted just 15 minutes or so. However, a more complete version of the broadcast is now viewable on YouTube.

The total length of the video is 3:51. That includes a pregame show, 3 quarters of action, the 4th quarter with TV audio only, and the postgame locker room show.

In truth, it was one of the ugliest football games you’ll ever see. However, the video is much more interesting in terms of the changes in the game, the broadcast, and the world as a whole.

Most Baltimore football fans know the Colts won that Super Bowl 16-13 on a last second FG by Jim O’Brien. To briefly recap the game further:

-The Colts offense can be summed up as

  • a 75-yard deflection TD from Johnny Unitas to John Mackey
  • 3 rushing yards on 2 carries from FB Tom Nowatzke to convert a TD set up by Rick Volk’s interception return to the Dallas 3 (Q4, 8:20)

-The Colts’ final 3 points came on O’Brien’s game-winning FG set up by Mike Curtis’ interception.

-Unitas had a rib broken by one of the big hits early in the 2nd quarter and was replaced by Earl Morrall.

-While the Colts generated some other passing offense, it was all wasted by 7 turnovers (3 interceptions and 4 fumbles), a failed 4th-and-goal attempt from the 2, and a missed FG. These failures led broadcasters Gowdy and Rote to draw comparisons to Super Bowl III early in the second quarter (ironically, those comparisons came while the Colts were huddling prior to Mackey’s TD).

-The Colts defense won this game by holding the Cowboys to just 3.7 yards per offensive play with 9 first downs and 4 turnovers.

-The Colts benefited greatly from facing Craig Morton, who was in a horrible slump that was probably injury related. He threw for just 112 net yards on 43 attempts (2.6 yards per drop back) and a 39.5 QB rating in the playoff wins versus Detroit (5-0.  That’s the final score, not Detroit’s record) and San Francisco (17-10). His interceptions keyed the 4th quarter comeback for the Colts.  Despite Morton’s difficulty throughout the playoffs, Landry never inserted 2nd-year pro Roger Staubach.  He would lead the Cowboys to their first Championship the next season.

-With the game tied at 13, Dallas started their final meaningful drive (Q4, 1:51) at the Baltimore 48, but had a disastrous 3-play sequence that lost the game.

  • Bubba Smith tackled Duane Thomas for a loss of 1.
  • Morton then dropped back to pass and Dallas was assessed what amounted to a 24-yard holding penalty (more on that later) that set the Cowboys back to their own 27.
  • Morton was then intercepted by Mike Curtis on 2nd and 35 with 1:09 remaining to set up O’Brien’s game-winning kick 3 plays later.

-Landry’s decision to pass on 2nd and 35 had to be among the worst play calls of his coaching career.

-With no Colts offensive player performing particularly well, the game’s MVP went to Cowboys LB Chuck Howley (2 interceptions and a FF), who is still the only player to win the award for a losing team.

-Had the game been played today, Volk, Curtis, or Roy Hilton (7 tackles, 2 sacks) would have been the MVP.

A Different World

-The pre-game flyover had a plane break off from the group to symbolize Americans lost in Southeast Asia. There were multiple references to Vietnam that are much more akin to 9/11 than casualties from Iraq or Afghanistan. This was a country where the debate over the war continued, but the nation was unmistakably grieving.

-There was a brief PSA about the Save the Survivors Pakistan Relief Fund. That was a flood relief effort in the former East Pakistan, which would gain its independence as Bangladesh later in 1971.

-Clothing, particularly on the pregame show is hilariously representative of the time. Gowdy wore a lime green shirt with a cartoonishly large collar and Joe Namath wore a hideous bright blue star-patterned shirt as they did the show by a Miami swimming pool. By apparel, both looked like they were auditioning for Laugh In.

-There were no beer ads. The primary sponsor was Chrysler and the commercial breaks were short. Don Draper would have been embarrassed to see his ads next to today’s Super Bowl ads.

-In 45 years, Star-Wars-themed commercials will probably look just as stupid as the 1971 Chrysler ads with a Smokey-and-the-Bandit theme. Apparently, it was a big deal to get an automatic transmission as standard equipment back then. My condolences if you ever owned a Dodge Swinger.

-Political correctness had not yet entered the American lexicon. Part of the ceremony included an introduction of players’ wives. They were collectively described as “thinking up ways to spend the winners’ money.” The announcers made a huge deal in this era of the winners’ share, which was a year’s salary in many cases.

-Speaking of political correctness, Anita Bryant was the primary halftime entertainment along with a college marching band that spelled out “Super Bowl Champs.” The public address announcer dutifully read off the letters for all of the blind people in attendance. Bryant was a former Miss America from Oklahoma who performed religious songs during halftime. She became the butt of humor for her rabid anti-gay stance in the late 1970’s. Yes, pee-wee football would have been far more entertaining.

A Different Game

-Unitas threw what was the longest TD in SB history at the time (75 yards) to Mackey via Hinton then Dallas cornerback Mel Renfro (Q2, 14:15). Rules at the time precluded consecutive offensive players from touching a forward pass, so deflected completions were a great rarity, like the immaculate reception.

-The Colts’ Jim Obrien had an extra point blocked and missed a 52-yard FG, which rolled dead at the 1-yard line. Under the rules of the day, the ball was not returned to the spot of the kick and the Cowboys simply took over from there.

-FB Tom Nowatzke had a big game with 78 offensive yards on 11 touches. The Colts obtained him just before the start of the regular season as a backup LB, but converted him to FB after injuries to Tom Matte and Jerry Hill.

-The Colts failed on 4th-and-goal from the 2 (Q2, 0:21) as Morrall threw incomplete to Mitchell in the end zone. Under the rules of the day, the ball was brought out to the 20.

-On what was one of the game’s pivotal plays (Q4,1:20), Dallas lost 24 yards on Neely’s holding penalty assessed as a 15-yard spot foul (it occurred 9 yards behind the LoS) under the rules of the day. According to the PFR win probability model, that increased the Colts’ chance to win by approximately 20%.

-The split backfield was more common than the I, but in both cases, the sets are so tight, you have to wonder how anyone ran the ball effectively in that era. Similarly, the linebackers played very close to the LoS.

-There were no shotgun snaps and nothing resembling a no-huddle offense.

-Landry sent in plays using an alternating TE system with Dan Norman and Mike Ditka. The practice was instituted at mid-season to “take the pressure off” Craig Morton. Yeah, why should a QB have to worry about calling the play? He should just execute, dammit.

-Both kickers wore numbers in the 80’s (O’Brien 80, Clark 83).

A Different Super Bowl Broadcast

Kyle Rote did the color, but didn’t say much throughout the game. If you recall that name, it may well be his son Kyle Rote Jr., a soccer player who won The Superstars competition on ABC in 3 of 4 appearances. Rote Sr. played 11 seasons with the Giants as a dangerous receiver who averaged 16.0 YPR for his career and later became the first head of the NFL Players Association. He wasn’t nearly as good as a color commentator. He talked in a low voice and didn’t always use complete sentences, which had to be distracting for Gowdy.

-Curt Gowdy mentioned the game was a very tough ticket and scalpers were asking $100 per seat around Miami. Using the CPI, that’s the equivalent of $585 today. Not a bad price at all.

-The pregame show was only 30 minutes and featured Gowdy discussing strategy with Joe Namath. The shirts were all about 1971, but the commentary was 15 years ahead of its time and it’s well worth the listen.

-The broadcast was far from worldwide. It was shown on 510 TV stations in the US, Canada, and some of the Caribbean. The UK was to get a delayed broadcast. Gowdy made a big deal of this being the first Super Bowl broadcast “by satellite” (remember when they always felt compelled to remind us of that fact?) in Anchorage, Alaska.

-The character generator during the intro to the pregame show labeled the game “The Fifth Super Bowl.” Roman numerals were used for many of the items, but I don’t think it was much after V that Roman numerals became the universal method of reference.

-Little things about the broadcast are bothersome and remind you how far the technology has come. There is, of course, no yellow line superimposed for the first-down marker, nor is the line of scrimmage marked in blue. You also have to do without the game clock, timeouts remaining, and down/distance on most plays.

-The Lombardi trophy was awarded for the first time by Marie Lombardi, Vince’s soft-spoken widow. Vince died on 9/3/70, so it took just 4 months to rename the trophy.

Mike Curtis had a surly delivery on the America’s Game version of Super Bowl V. He mentioned that he thought he had worn his ring 4 times over the years and kept it in a jacket. That didn’t match his post-game demeanor, when he indicated the ring was much more important than the winner’s share. The older we get…I forget what goes here.

Whether a casual fan, student of the game, or Super Bowl ad enthusiast, a watch of Super Bowl V is worthwhile simply as a reminder of the era that was.

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Ken McKusick

About Ken McKusick

Known as “Filmstudy” from his handle on area message boards, Ken is a lifelong Baltimorean and rabid fan of Baltimore sports. He grew up within walking distance of Memorial Stadium and attended all but a handful of Orioles games from 1979 through 2001. He got his start in sports modeling with baseball in the mid 1980’s. He began writing about the Ravens in 2006 and maintains a library of video for every game the team has played. He’s a graduate of Syracuse with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Math who recently retired from his actuarial career to pursue his passion as a football analyst full time.

If you have math or modeling questions related to sports or gambling, Ken is always interested in hearing new problems or ideas.

He can be reached by email at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @filmstudyravens.

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