Jets Outlast Raiders, 31-19

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The following is not a summary of historical events, but rather the results of my computer football replay of the 1968 AFL season using Second and Ten football. In reality on November 17, 1968, the Oakland Raiders scored two touchdowns in the final moments in a game immortalized as “The Heidi Game” because the national broadcast by NBC left the game at 7:00 PM in order to timely air the premiere of the movie, “Heidi”.

Oakland, Nov. 17 – The New York Jets defeated the defending AFL champion Oakland Raiders, 31-19, in a game whose conclusion was missed by its national television audience as NBC switched its programming from the game to the movie premier of “Heidi”. With the Raiders in possession, down by 5 points with 1:28 remaining, the country was re-directed toward the Swiss Alps.

As the switchboards lit up with anxious football fans, New York’s Earl Christy saved the Jets* as Lamonica dropped back and sought Charlie Smith on a fly pattern down the sideline. Christy intercepted the pass at the Jets 26, and scampered 31 yards to the Oakland 43. From there, New York fullback Matt Snell plowed through a bewildered Raider defense for a touchdown. Two plays spun the momentum around and insured the Jets of a critical west coast victory. Though the defeat of the defending champion served notice to the rest of the AFL, New York will travel down state to face the Western Division leading San Diego Chargers for a potential preview of the championship game.

* – in the actual game, Christy was a goat as his fumbled kickoff opened the door for two quick Oakland touchdowns that the national television audience missed in a 43-32 come-from-behind win.

In other AFL action, the Chargers routed the Bills in Buffalo, 52-30. San Diego quarterback John Hadl threw four touchdowns but also four interceptions in the game. Houston continued its recovery from a miserable start with a 50-30 romp over the Broncos. Pete Beathard threw for 364 yards, the highest total for the week in the AFL, and 4 touchdowns. Kansas City saved themselves with a late touchdown drive in the final minutes of a 27-24 win in Boston. The Dolphins and expansion Bengals tied at 35 when Miami quarterback Bob Griese threw a 12 yard touchdown pass to Karl Noonan with 1:08 remaining. Dick Anderson intercepted Sam Wyche’s bomb intended for Bob Trumpy at the Dolphins 4 in the final seconds to preserve the tie.

Go to 1968 AFL Replay Home Page

Go To 1968 NFL Replay Home Page

Nelsen Leads Browns’ Charge

Acquired from Pittsburgh in the off season, Bill Nelsen has led a revival in Cleveland as the Browns have rolled in their last two games. Cleveland will face undefeated Baltimore next week.
Acquired from Pittsburgh in the off season, Bill Nelsen has led a revival in Cleveland as the Browns have rolled in their last two games. Cleveland will face undefeated Baltimore next week.

The following is not a summary of historical events, but rather the results of my computer football replay of the 1968 NFL and AFL seasons using Second and Ten football.

Two weeks ago, the Cleveland Browns replaced their starting quarterback and the dreams of championship football reappeared in the rafters of Municipal Stadium. After a loss to the Rams two weeks ago, Bill Nelsen, acquired from Pittsburgh in May, took over for Frank Ryan, the longtime starter who led the Browns to a NFL championship four years ago. What followed bore no resemblance to the Browns team that took the field in the first three weeks. Nelsen led Cleveland to a 44-16 rout over his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, in his first start. Nelsen followed that performance yesterday with a 45-3 thrashing of the St. Louis Cardinals. In his two starts, Nelsen has seven touchdown passes with no interceptions, and surpassed Ryan’s yardage total in three starts, 564 yards to 539, in ten fewer completions and twenty-four fewer attempts. Leroy Kelly rushed for 121 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Cardinal win. Nelsen and the Browns will travel to undefeated Baltimore next week for the first true test if championship football has in fact returned to Cleveland.

In other NFL action, the Colts and the Dallas Cowboys remained undefeated with victories over San Francisco and Philadelphia respectively. Baltimore QB Earl Morrall struggled (9-22; 128 yards) but Tom Matte helped the Colts control the ground with 90 yards rushing in the 30-16 victory. Preston Pearson put the game out of reach with a 90 yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter. In Dallas, tight end Pettis Norman caught a pair of touchdown passes in the first quarter as the Cowboys cruised to a 28-3 win. The New York Giants survived a scare down South as they rallied to defeat the Atlanta Falcons, 20-17. Ernie Koy scored the winning touchdown with 1:46 remaining in the game. The winning touchdown was the result of an 11-play 78-yard drive. Atlanta fumbled away a chance to tie when Cannonball Butler fumbled at the Giant 39 with less than a minute left.

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Briscoe Rallies Broncos, 27-20.

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The following is not a summary of historical events, but rather the results of my computer football replay of the 1968 AFL season using Second and Ten football. In reality on October 6, 1968, Marlin Briscoe of the Denver Broncos became the first black player to start at quarterback in professional football.

Denver Bronco head coach Lou Saban replaced starting quarterback Steve Tensi with backup Marlin Briscoe halfway through the third quarter. The controversial substitution ultimately paid dividends as Briscoe guided the Denver Broncos to a 27-20 victory over the expansion Cincinnati Bengals. Tensi started the game for the home team, and led the Broncos to a 13-10 halftime lead. After the break, the Bengals made defensive adjustments and began to pressure Tensi. The Bengals sacked Tensi twice in the opening possession of the second half. Following a Denver punt, Cincinnati nearly took the lead on their first possession, but a fumble deep in Bronco territory ended the drive. Saban summoned for Briscoe to the surprise of the crowd at Bears Field. The 14th round draft pick fared no better, and the Bengal pursuit got to him initially as well.
Continue reading “Briscoe Rallies Broncos, 27-20.”

Ryan Era Ends In Cleveland

Frank Ryan (above) will be replaced as the team's starting quarterback against the Steelers this week. Ryan frequently had defensive linemen draped on him this season as he has been sacked 17 times in the first 3 games.
Frank Ryan (above) will be replaced as the team’s starting quarterback against the Steelers this week. Ryan frequently had defensive linemen draped on him this season as he has been sacked 17 times in the first 3 games.

The following is not a summary of historical events,but rather the results of my computer football replay of the 1968 NFL season using Second and Ten football.

Frank Ryan, who quarterbacked the Browns to a championship four seasons ago, has been displaced as Browns quarterback after a seven game losing streak dating back to last season. Coach Collier named Bill Nelsen as the starter this week. Nelsen will be making his debut against his former club, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who drafted him in the tenth round in 1963.

As for Ryan, he threw his seventh interception of the season in the waning moments of the Browns’ 13-10 loss to Los Angeles in Cleveland’s opening game on Sunday. Ryan was battered around by the Rams’ front four throughout the game. He was sacked six times by the Rams, and seventeen times in three games this season. Ryan suffered a shoulder injury in 1965, and those seventeen sacks have re-aggravated the injury. For Ryan’s own sake and for the good of the team, Collier finally announced his decision after the loss to the Rams. Cleveland and Pittsburgh are both 0-3 trailing the surprise leaders in the  Century Division, the 2-1 New Orleans Saints.

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Skins Survive Saintly Scare, 27-26

 Don McCall (36) breaks free for some of his game-high 71 rushing yards in the Saints’ 27-26 loss to Washington. McCall also had 70 yards receiving on the afternoon.
Don McCall (36) breaks free for some of his game-high 71 rushing yards in the Saints’ 27-26 loss to Washington. McCall also had 70 yards receiving on the afternoon.

The following is not a summary of historical events,but rather the results of my computer football replay of the 1968 NFL season using Second and Ten football.

New Orleans – Jerry Allen scored from two yards with 1:27 remaining as the Washington Redskins rallied from behind for a thrilling 27-26 victory over the New Orleans Saints. Charlie Gogolak hit the extra point to give Washington its first lead in the game. Aaron Martin intercepted Saints QB Billy Kilmer with 22 seconds left to stop the Saints drive for a game-winning field goal.

Sonny Jurgensen led the Redskins for two touchdowns in the final five minutes to avert another veteran team falling to the second-year Saints. Last week, New Orleans upset Cleveland, 17-13. Jurgensen threw a 22 yard touchdown pass to Charley Taylor with 4:29 on the clock. The Redskins defense held Kilmer and the Saints to only one series of downs and forced the Saints to punt. Before the two minute warning, Jurgensen found Taylor again for a 32 yard strike that put the Redskins in the shadow of the Saints goal posts. On a critical third and two, Jurgensen flipped the ball to Allen who scampered around the end for an 11 yard gain and set up his game-winning touchdown on the next play.

The Saints jumped to a 10-0 lead in the second quarter after Monte Stickles broke free for a 35 yard touchdown reception from Kilmer. The Redskins responded with a 65 yard drive capped by Allen’s first rushing touchdown of the day. The teams then exchanged field goals with Gogolak closing the Redskins to within three points, 13-10, with a 39 yard field goal at the end of the half. In the third quarter, the Saints marched down field for two scoring threats, but settled for two Charlie Durkee field goals. The second field goal resulted from an interception by Dave Whitsell. Midway through the fourth quarter, it appeared that New Orleans would celebrate its second consecutive upset when Tony Lorick turned a short pass into a 24 yard touchdown for a 26-13 lead. The teams traded punts, and Jurgensen then guided the Redskins out of peril and to victory. This is the second straight one point decision for the Redskins who defeated the Bears, 21-20, in the opening week.

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Dolphins, Broncos Pull Off Stunning Upsets

Denver DE Rich Jackson closes on Kansas City QB Len Dawson in the Broncos' 20-14 victory in Kansas City.
Denver DE Rich Jackson closes on Kansas City QB Len Dawson in the Broncos’ 20-14 victory in Kansas City.

The following is not a summary of historical events,but rather the results of my computer football replay of the 1968 AFL season using Second and Ten football.

These days, the younger generation is challenging the Establishment, and this weekend in the American Football League, it did not matter if you were the established champions for only one year. The last two AFL champions, Oakland and Kansas City, fell from the ranks of the undefeated. On Saturday, the second-year Miami Dolphins floored the defending champion Raiders, 45-24, in an aerial display witnessed by 70,873 at the Orange Bowl. On Sunday, the Denver Broncos revived under second year coach Lou Saban pulled off the weekend’s second upset, a 20-14 defeat of the Kansas City Chiefs on their home turf.

In Miami, the air was filled with footballs as Bob Griese and Daryle Lamonica nearly combined for 800 passing yards. The Dolphins tied the game at 17 with a little over a minute remaining in the first half when Griese found Karl Noonan, the AFL’s leading receiver after three weeks of play, for a 19 yard touchdown pass. Though Miami received the second half kickoff, the anticipation in the press box was these young Dolphins would wilt amidst the hot sun and Raider defense. However, Griese marched the Dolphins to a touchdown with receiver Howard Twilley and fullback Larry Csonka compiling most of the yards. A flagrant face mask penalty helped advance the Dolphins on the drive. On the Raiders next possession, Lamonica threw a deep bomb intended for Fred Biletnikoff that was tipped and fell into the hands of LB John Bramlett who was trailing on the play. Bramlett bulled his way to the Oakland 35 which set up another Dolphin touchdown, Griese’s one yard toss to RB Jim Kiick.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Lamonica closed the Raiders to within a touchdown on a seven yard toss to Hewritt Dixon, but Griese and the Dolphins responded with another Griese-to-Kiick touchdown pass that put the game out of reach with 4:45 left to play. But Lamonica refused to accept that conclusion as he hurled the Raiders down the field with deep passes, but Dick Anderson picked Lamonica off at the three yard line. The Dolphins ran the ball and the clock forcing the Raiders to use their timeouts. Punter Larry Seiple pinned the Raiders at their own one-yard line with 2:24 left. Down by two touchdowns, Lamonica remained undeterred, but again Dick Anderson stepped in front of a Lamonica pass and this time returned it 12 yards for the final dagger in the Raiders’ heart, 45-24.

In Kansas City, the vaunted Chiefs offense failed to gain any traction against the Broncos defense which ranked last in the league in 1967. Denver out-gained the Chiefs, 402 to 130 total yards, but it was a fourth-quarter 25 yard touchdown pass by John Leclair to Billy Van Heusen that proved to be the narrow difference on the scoreboard. Denver rolled to a 13-0 lead in the first half, and appeared to have the game in control until, with under two minutes to go in the half, Leclair was intercepted by Jim Lynch who nearly returned the ball for a touchdown. Lynch was pushed out of bounds at the two, and former Bronco running back Wendell Hayes plunged ahead on the next play for a touchdown. Quarterback Len Dawson took control on the opening possession of the second half by guiding the Chiefs 80 yards for a go-ahead touchdown, a nine-yard pass to Otis Taylor. But the Broncos offense was able to run the ball and the clock, despite a Chiefs interception stopping a third-quarter drive. The Bronco pass rush broke through to apply pressure on Dawson and came up with two key second-half sacks. Dawson finished with eight completions on nineteen attempts and a mere seventy-four passing yards.

In other AFL action, the Buffalo Bills held off the expansion Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20. Paul Robinson rushed for 113 yards and is the league’s leading rusher by one yard over Denver’s Floyd Little. The New York Jets had no trouble disposing of the Boston Patriots, 35-3, at Fenway Park.

Go to 1968 AFL Replay Home Page

Browns Stunned By Saints in Opener, 17-13

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The following is not a summary of historical events,but rather the results of my computer football replay of the 1968 NFL season using Second and Ten football.

The Cleveland Browns dropped their fifth straight game dating back to November 26, 1967 with a demoralizing 17-13 loss the second-year New Orleans Saints in the opening game for both clubs played at Tulane Stadium. Cleveland jumped to a 13 point lead at the half. But the Browns literally handed the game off to the Saints in the second half as marched back with 17 unanswered points. A fumble by tight end Milt Morin on the Browns’ opening possession of the second half marked the beginning of the Saints’ rally. Saints QB Billy Kilmer tossed a 46 yard touchdown pass to Jim Hester for the home team’s opening score. Leroy Kelly fumbled on the Browns’ next possession which turned into a 31 yard Charlie Durkee field goal to close the Cleveland lead to three points. On the Saints’ following possession, Dave Parks broke loose on an end around 46 yards to set up a Tony Lorick touchdown plunge for the lead. The Browns failed to mount any significant comeback by continuing to shoot themselves in the foot. Cleveland turned the ball over three more times before the final whistle blew. The task of regaining their winning ways gets no easier as the Browns travel to Dallas to play the World Champion Cowboys next week.

The Saints win was not the only upset on Opening weekend. The Atlanta Falcons traveled to Minnesota on Saturday and upended the Vikings in the rain, 24-10. On Monday, the Cardinals defeated the Rams, 27-14, as Jim Hart threw a pair of touchdown passes for St. Louis. Other teams tabbed as favorites waltzed through the first week of the season. Dallas hammered Detroit, 52-0. Don Meredith threw five touchdown passes for the Cowboys. Baltimore pinned a 44-10 pasting on San Francisco as Earl Morrall, subbing for the injured Johnny Unitas, threw four touchdown passes. Morrall was acquired from the Giants August 25 and became the Colts’ signal caller by virtue of Unitas’ arm injury suffered against the Cowboys in the final exhibition game. Donny Anderson rushed for 141 yards in the Packers’ 41-10 dismantling of the Eagles. Chicago’s Gale Sayers compiled the highest rushing total for the week with 164 yards in a 21-20 loss to Washington. Earl Gros rushed for 121 for the Steelers, but it wasn’t enough as Fran Tarkenton and the Giants triumphed, 20-17.

Go to 1968 NFL Replay Home Page

Blocked Field Goal Return Wins Game for Dolphins

Larry Csnoka, the Dolphins' first round pick from Syracuse, had an impressive professional debut with 75 yards rushing in the Dolphins' 14-7 upset of the Houston Oilers.
Larry Csnoka, the Dolphins’ first round pick from Syracuse, had an impressive professional debut with 75 yards rushing in the Dolphins’ 14-7 upset of the Houston Oilers.

The following is not a summary of historical events,but rather the results of my computer football replay of the 1968 AFL season using Second and Ten football.

Miami – The Miami Dolphins blocked a field goal attempt in the closing seconds of the first half and John Bramlett returned it 71 yards for a go-ahead touchdown for a tight 14-7 victory over the defending AFL Eastern Champion Houston Oilers in their opening game of the 1968 season. Rookie Larry Csonka led the Dolphins with 75 yards rushing. The first round pick out of Syracuse helped Miami drown out the clock in the second game as the game was played in a rain storm. Bob Griese completed 12 of 24 passing attempts for a 102 yards including a first quarter touchdown pass to Karl Noonan who led all receivers with eight catches.

Houston tied the game in the second quarter with a 69 yard scoring drive capped by Woody Campbell’s four yard touchdown run. Campbell led Houston with 58 yards on the ground. The Oilers In the final minute of the first half, the Dolphins attempted a fake punt and punter Larry Sieple was intercepted by Miller Farr who returned the ball to midfield. In five plays, Pete Beathard drove his team to the Dolphin six yard line with five seconds remaining. Kicker John Wittenborn’s 23 yard attempt was blocked and Bramlett scooped up the ball and hit paydirt as the clock rattled off the final seconds of the half. The Oilers were unable to recover from the sudden ten point turn-around.

Houston committed three turnovers in the second half, the most costly being a Dick Westmoreland interception at the Dolphin ten yard line in the opening moments of the final stanza. Csonka and the Dolphins ground game chewed up seven minutes off the clock before Beathard would be granted another chance. But the Dolphin defense held the Oilers on downs with 2:51 left as Alvin Reed was stopped a yard short of a first down on a fourth down reception. The Oilers held the Dolphins but Sieple pinned Houston deep at their three yard line with 1:22 remaining. Hoyle Granger, who finished with 117 receiving yards, rescued the Oilers from their deep hole with a 34 yard reception, but again the Dolphins defense held their ground stopping the Oilers thirty yards from a game-tying touchdown.

The Dolphins will next host the AFL Champion Oakland Raiders as the Oilers (0-2) head west to face the San Diego Chargers next Saturday.

Go to 1968 AFL Replay Home Page

Chiefs Roll Oilers in AFL Opening Week

Kansas City's Otis Taylor scores on a seven yard end around in the second half of the Chiefs' 34-16 humiliation of the defending Eastern Champion Houston Oilers in their new home, the Astrodome.
Kansas City’s Otis Taylor scores on a seven yard end around in the second half of the Chiefs’ 34-16 humiliation of the defending Eastern Champion Houston Oilers in their new home, the Astrodome.

The following is not a summary of historical events,but rather the results of my computer football replay of the 1968 AFL season using Second and Ten football.

Before a sellout crowd in Houston’s Astrodome, the Kansas City Chiefs reclaimed their position among the league elite with a 34-16 dismantling of the defending Eastern Division champion Oilers. The game began well enough for the home club as Larry Carwell intercepted Kansas City’s Len Dawson within the first minute of the game. Carwell returned the ball 42 yards to the Chiefs 11 yard line. Houston QB and former Chief Pete Beathard quickly converted the turnover into six points with a touchdown toss to Mac Haik on the Oilers’ first play from scrimmage in the new season. After the teams traded interceptions, Houston punter J.C. Norton pinned the visitors deep in their own territory, and Chiefs RB Bert Coan was stuffed in the end zone for a safety.

But the game went downhill from there for the Houstonians. Carwell fumbled the free kick following the safety, and Dawson found TE Fred Arbanas open up the middle for a 33 yard touchdown pass. However Beathard continued to turn the ball over, and in the dying moments of the first half, Beathard’s fourth of an eventual five interceptions found the arms of Johnny Robinson in the Oiler end zone. The Chiefs held a 17-9 halftime advantage, and Robinson interception denied Houston a chance to close within a point at halftime. The Oilers looked like a defeated club as they walked off the field. Kansas City took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove for another touchdown, a 7 yard end around by WR Otis Taylor. Dawson found Taylor for another score in the opening stages of the fourth quarter to provide Kansas City with 34 unanswered points. Don Trull took over for Beathard, and drove Houston 92 yards for the game’s final score – a 1 yard plunge by Hoyle Granger as time expired.

In other games, the San Diego Chargers proved rude hosts for the Cincinnati Bengals’ inaugural game with a 30-3 demolition and Boston defeated the Bills in Buffalo, 20-6.
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1968 NFL Replay Preview – Green Bay Packers

Packers running back Donny Anderson (44) in action in a re-match of last year's NFL Championship Game on August 24, 1968. The Packers defeated the Cowboys, 31-27, in the exhibition game played in Dallas. CREDIT: Walter Iooss, Jr. (Photo by Walter Iooss, Jr. / Sports Illustrated)
Packers running back Donny Anderson (44) in action in a re-match of last year’s NFL Championship Game on August 24, 1968. The Packers defeated the Cowboys, 31-27, in the exhibition game played in Dallas. CREDIT: Walter Iooss, Jr. (Photo by Walter Iooss, Jr. / Sports Illustrated)

When Vincent Lombardi, having achieved all that any professional football coach could hope to achieve, decided to leave the field for the front office after the Super Bowl, he said, seriously, “The greatness of this team lies ahead of it.”

On Thursday afternoons early in the training season this year, Lombardi played golf; when he came out to practice to watch Phil Bengtson drive the club as hard as he himself did, he sat on a special bench in the sun and acquired a tan, biting his tongue. He did not interfere with Bengtson, who spent nine years as his assistant and who has not varied the Lombardi routine. Lombardi appropriated a green park bench for his own and asked equipment man Bob Noel, “Where’s my bench?” whenever he appeared. Once, when he had taken off his shirt only to see a cloud hide the sun, he demanded, “Where’s my sun?” No one doubts that it reappeared at once.

The team Bengtson inherited may be the best of the long series of exemplary Packer clubs. It is essentially the same as the 1967 version and, given only a normal run of injuries, it should be much better. Last season Bart Starr, playing with a swollen thumb and rib injuries in the early games, threw nine interceptions in the first two, or three times as many as he did in all of 1966. Healed, he settled down to his usual pace and threw only tweleve  more in the next 12 games. The Pack lost its two starting running backs during the course of the season when Elijah Pitts and Jim Grabowski each missed significant time with injury. Travis Williams, who returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, got a late start because of tonsilitis, but he is recovered now and with a year’s experience should have a strong season. Herb Adderley played defensive halfback for most of last season with a separated bicep in his right arm. Minus such injuries, the Packers figure to improve on their 1967 performance. And there are other significant pluses.

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