The following is not a summary of historical events, but rather the results of my computer football replay of the 1968 AFL and NFL seasons using Second and Ten football. In reality on November 24, 1968, Joe Namath and the Jets did beat the Chargers, but by the score of 37-15.
San Diego, Nov. 24 – The New York Jets prevailed over the San Diego Chargers, 25-22, as Jim Turner kicked a 44-yard field goal in the final minute of a furious fourth quarter. The Chargers stunned the Jets with a blocked punt and touchdown return by Speedy Duncan with 1:43 left in the game. The unflappable Joe Namath was undeterred, and drove the Jets into field goal range with a pair of passes to Bill Mathis.
The fireworks were not set until the fourth quarter in this contest. These two clubs matched in a potential AFL Championship paired off in the first half like boxers sparring and testing one another. The Jets held a 6-0 at the half. In the third quarter, Namath took advantage of a Randy Beverly interception that gave the Jets a short field at the Charger 32. Namath found George Sauer for a 12 yard strike, and Weeb Ewbank elected to go for the two point conversion. Namath’s toss to Sauer was deflected, and New York held a 12-0 lead. On the Jets’ subsequent possession, Russ Washington sacked Namath on the drive’s second play. Namath fumbled the ball, and Washington alertly sprang up, recovered the ball, and returned it 17 yards for the Chargers’ first score. Jim Turner’s first field goal of the afternoon extended the lead back to 8 points as the third quarter came to a close.
San Diego scored again with an eight play 75 yard touchdown drive capped by Gene Foster’s three yard run. A 36 yard pass to tight end Jacque Mackinnon was the drive’s big play. Quarterback John Hadl found Mackinnon again for the two-point conversion that tied the score at 15. Namath and the Jets took over at their own 20. On the opening play, Matt Snell rumbled 40 yards but fumbled as he was tackled from behind. Ken Dyer recovered for San Diego, and the home team seemed to have momentum. After a false start penalty, Hadl was intercepted by Jim Hudson who returned the ball 36 yards to the Chargers 23. Two plays later, Namath found Don Maynard for a 21 yard touchdown strike and a 22-15 lead. The Jets defense held Hadl and the Chargers on their next possession, and Namath took over looking to kill the clock. After Snell and Boozer rushed for one first down, a holding penalty set the Jets back and ensured the Chargers would have a final opportunity to score. With 1:51 remaining, Curley Johnson was sent in to punt the ball away. The Chargers blocked the punt, and Speedy Duncan suddenly had tied the game at 22.
With 92 seconds remaining and the ball at their 27, the Jets took over. Namath found Mathis on a square out, and Mathis rambled 31 yards down the sideline to the Charger 42. After a pair of incompletions intended for Maynard, Namath flipped to Mathis for another five yards, and Turner was summoned to break the tie on 4th and 5. Turner’s kick was true, and as the clock wound down under a minute to play, Hadl took over for San Diego. Four quick strikes moved the Chargers into Jet territory, but John Elliot sacked Hadl on the final play to preserve the New York win.
The Jets return East with the division in hand, and the reassurance that they have defeated either Championship Game opponent that may come from the West. New York defeated the Raiders, 31-19, in Oakland last week. The loss was particularly devastating for San Diego who dropped into a tie with Oakland. The two clubs will play each other in San Diego perhaps with the division on the line in the final week of the season.
In other AFL action, Charlie Smith rushed for 118 yards and Daryle Lamonica threw for three touchdowns in the Raiders’ 41-17 rout in Cincinnati. Marlin Briscoe led the Broncos to a 17-3 win over Buffalo in Denver. Briscoe threw for 256 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Boston defeated Miami, 35-21, in other action.
In NFL action, the Colts and Cowboys were handed their second losses of the season in a pair of upsets. The Vikings defeated the Colts in Baltimore, 24-23, and the Bears beat the Cowboys, 16-13, at Wrigley Field. Cleveland may be the favorite now as Bill Nelsen continues to drive the Browns’ turnaround. The Browns pounded the Eagles, 52-0. Nelsen threw three touchdown passes to Paul Warfield, and NFL leading rusher Leroy Kelly ran for 152 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Lions defeated the Saints, 35-7, as Mel Farr ran for 119 for Detroit. The Rams beat the Giants in Los Angeles, 28-6. The Steelers upset the 49ers, 31-4. The Cardinals held off an Atlanta rally for a 35-28 victory in St. Louis, and the Redskins blanked the Packers, 10-0, as Zeke Bratkowski, starting for the injured Bart Starr, threw a pair of interceptions.