Browns Hold Off Lions, 30-28

Nelsen
Browns QB Bill Nelsen looking for a receiver against the Lions
The following is not a summary of historical events,but rather the results of my computer football replay of the 1969 AFL and NFL seasons using Second and Ten football. In reality on October 5, 1969, the Lions handed the Cleveland Browns their first defeat of the 1969 season, 28-21.

The Cleveland Browns maintained their undefeated status by holding off a furious rally by the visiting Detroit Lions en route to a 30-28 victory. The Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings and Browns remain the only undefeated teams in the NFL. The Browns jumped to a 27-0 lead in the first half before the Lions reached the scoreboard with a Bill Triplett touchdown run in the final minute of the half.

When John Garlington intercepted Lions’ quarterback Bill Munson on Detroit’s opening second half drive, the outcome seemed even more assured for Cleveland. The Browns cashed the turnover into another Don Cockroft field goal for a 30-7 lead. Munson and the Lions responded with a 9-play, 77-yard drive that resulted in a Munson touchdown pass to tight end Charlie Sanders. The Lions defense forced the Browns to punt after only three plays, and Munson again pushed the Lions downfield. But on the tenth play of the drive and in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, Munson was again intercepted.

The Browns marched downfield and, with the benefit of a defensive pass interference call, reached the Lions 26. But the Lions defense rose to the occasion and sacked Nielsen twice forcing the Browns to punt. Lem Barney caught Cockroft’s punt at his own 12 and weaved through the Browns coverage for an 88 yard touchdown that breathed new life into the Lions. But the Lions could not mount another threat until the clock reached two minutes, just as they had in the first half. Munson connected with wideout Earl McCullouch for 38 yards to the Cleveland 35. A flare pass to Mel Farr put the Lions at the Browns 17, and a draw play by Farr brought the ball to the Browns’ 2 with a minute to go. Munson again found Sanders in the end zone and Errol Mann’s PAT closed the deficit to a mere two points. But the Browns recovered the onside attempt to remain undefeated as the Lions would have to be satisfied with perhaps a moral victory to go with their 0-3 record.

In other NFL action, the Minnesota Vikings unseated the Green Bay Packers with a 21-point second half rally in a 31-17 victory. Roman Gabriel led the Rams to a 13-10 victory over the New Orleans Saints with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Billy Truax in the final minute. Dallas outlasted Philadelphia, 28-20, as Lance Rentzel caught four touchdown passes from Craig Morton. Baltimore defeated the Falcons in Atlanta, 24-13, and the Redskins beat the 49ers in San Francisco despite the afternoon’s only 100-yard rushing game from Ken Willard. The Bears defeated the Giants, 21-7, and Pittsburgh crushed the Cardinals, 48-17. Roy Jefferson had 172 receiving yards and two touchdowns for the Steelers.

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Rams Defense Thwarts Colts.

Rams' DT Coy Bacon breaks through the line in Los Angeles' 16-3 win over the World Champion Colts
Rams’ DT Coy Bacon breaks through the line in Los Angeles’ 16-3 win over the World Champion Colts

The following is not a summary of historical events,but rather the results of my computer football replay of the 1969 AFL and NFL seasons using Second and Ten football. In reality on September 21, 1969, the Rams defeated the defending NFL champion Colts, 27-20.

The Los Angeles Rams opened the 1969 NFL season with a 16-3 road victory over the World Champion Baltimore Colts. The contest was a defensive struggle, but the Rams’ defense forced Johnny Unitas to throw five interceptions. After each club missed field goals – the Rams’ miss was set up by Unitas’ first interception – Los Angeles’ QB Roman Gabriel found WR Wendell Tucker for an 80 yard pass for the game’s first and only touchdown. That one play drive was a result of Unitas’ second interception by Clancy Williams. With two minutes remaining in the first half, Unitas and Tom Matte led a Colts’ drive that ended in a 30 yard field goal. The Rams pushed the margin back to seven with a Bruce Gossett 30 yard field goal after their opening drive in the second half. From there, the Rams’ “Fearsome Foursome” locked down the Colts offense. Richie Petitbone ended any hope with the afternoon’s final interception with a minute remaining. Unitas missed most of last season due to injury, and was a forgettable 17-40 with 130 yards passing with the five interceptions.

In other action, a pair of rookies shone brightly in Dallas’ 45-21 win over St. Louis. QB Roger Staubach passed for 289 yards with two touchdown passes to Lance Rentzel. RB Calvin Hill, the Cowboys’ first round pick from Yale, rushed for 186 yards. Gale Sayers rushed for 144 yards, but the Packers rallied in the second half to coast to a 34-14 win over Chicago. Minnesota silenced Fran Tarkenton and the Giants, 22-3. Atlanta defeated San Francisco, 20-3. New Orleans spoiled the debut of Redskins’ head coach Vince Lombardi with a 22-21 win at Tulane Stadium. Cleveland held off the Eagles, 17-10, and Gene Mingo’s 23 yard field goal with 3:46 remaining was the margin of victory as the Steelers defeated the Lions, 23-20.

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Colts Hold Off Jets’ Upset Bid, 19-14.

Jets quarterback Joe Namath looks to throw long over the outstretched arm of Colts' defensive end Bubba Smith in the final minutes of Super Bowl III.
Jets quarterback Joe Namath looks to throw long over the outstretched arm of Colts’ defensive end Bubba Smith in the final minutes of Super Bowl III.

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 January 12, 1969,the the AFL’s New York Jets defeated the NFL champion Baltimore Colts, 16-7, in Super Bowl III. The game is one of the most storied upsets in NFL history.

Miami – The Baltimore Colts averted a last-minute upset bid by the New York Jets to win Super Bowl III by the score of 19-14. Jets quarterback Joe Namath led New York 65 yards with less than two minutes and no timeouts, but the Colts’ Bob Boyd slapped away a pass intended for George Sauer in the end zone as time elapsed. The NFL-leading Baltimore defense forced three turnovers that led to ten points for the Colts. Meanwhile, the Jets defense harassed Earl Morrall (12-22; 141 yards), sacking the Baltimore quarterback six times on the afternoon. Don Maynard caught a pair of touchdown passes for New York, but it was Jerry Hill’s three yard touchdown run with 6:41 remaining that stood as the difference in the ball game.

On the game’s final series, Namath (27-43; 264 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT) marched the Jets from their own 20 yard line with only 1:44 left. Namath, who guaranteed a Jets victory earlier in the week, completed a pair of 4th down passes to his favorite target, Sauer, to keep the drive alive. Sauer caught 11 passes for 109 yards. With only nine seconds left, Namath found Maynard on a corner route. Maynard caught the ball over his shoulder and was pushed out of bounds at the Baltimore 15 with only one tick left on the clock. On the final play, Namath looked for the reliable Sauer who appeared opened on a crossing route, but Boyd stretched to deflect the ball and save the championship for Baltimore. Boyd intercepted a pass near the end zone to prevent a possible Jets touchdown at the end of the first half of the game.
Continue reading “Colts Hold Off Jets’ Upset Bid, 19-14.”

Colts Stun Cowboys For Title, 20-17

Rick Volk’s interception and return in the final minute set up Lou Michael’s game-winning field goal as the Baltimore Colts defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 20-17, for the NFL championship.
Rick Volk’s interception and return in the final minute set up Lou Michael’s game-winning field goal as the Baltimore Colts defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 20-17, for the NFL championship.

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 December 29, 1968, the the Colts defeated the Cleveland Browns, 34-0, for the NFL Championship and a date with the AFL champion New York Jets Rick Volk’s interception and return in the final minute set up Lou Michael’s game winning field goal as the Baltimore Colts defeated the Dallas Cowboys for the NFL Championship in Miami at Super Bowl III.

Baltimore – The Baltimore Colts scored ten points in the final minute to upend the defending champion Dallas Cowboys for the 1968 NFL championship with a 20-17 victory. Lou Michaels kicked a 14 yard field goal with five seconds remaining for the title. Micheals’ kick was set up by an interception by Rick Volk who returned the ball to the Cowboys 6 yard line.

The game was a defensive struggle, and only Earl Morrall had any success on the afternoon. The Colts quarterback threw for 374 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but until the final minute, it appeared his four interceptions on the afternoon would keep Baltimore from victory. The Colts turned the ball over eight times, but their league-leading defense stymied the Cowboys’ high-flying offense. Dallas could only muster a mere 143 total yards on the day, and Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith became acquainted with nearly the entire defense as the Colts sacked him seven times.

The first sack of the afternoon by linebacker Mike Curtis led to the first score of the game. Curtis forced a fumble that was recovered by Ordell Braase at the Dallas 32. The Colts’ drive was stopped by a Bob Lilly sack, and Baltimore settled for a 21 yard field goal for a 3-0 lead with 9:52 left in the first half. But, Meredith and the Cowboys struck fast. After Craig Baynham returned the ensuing kickoff to the Dallas 45, Meredith found Lance Rentzel behind the Colt secondary for a 55 yard touchdown strike. A holding penalty killed the next Colt drive, and Baltimore punted the ball away. Bullet Bob Hayes fielded the punt at the Cowboys 27, and dashed 73 yards for another Dallas touchdown. Morrall responded with a six-minute 84 yard drive highlighted by a pair of receptions by tight end John Mackey and rushes by Jerry Hill. On third and goal at the 2, Morrall found Mackey in the end zone to close the score to 14-10. The Cowboys were forced to punt, and Rick Volk fumbled the punt which was recovered by Mike Johnson of the Cowboys at the Colts 25. After Mike Curtis’ second sack pushed Dallas back to the 33, Cowboys’ kicker Mike Clark kicked a 40 yard field goal to extend the lead to seven points.
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Cards Top Browns For Century Title

 Willis Crenshaw, shown in action against the Steelers two weeks ago, rumbled for 120 yards as the Cardinals beat the Browns for the Century Division title, a first for St. Louis.
Willis Crenshaw, shown in action against the Steelers two weeks ago, rumbled for 120 yards as the Cardinals beat the Browns for the Century Division title, a first for St. Louis.

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 December 14, 1968, the Cardinals did defeat the Browns by the score of 27-16, but the Browns won the Century division, eventually losing to Baltimore in the NFL Championship Game.

St. Louis, December 14 – The St. Louis Cardinals captured the NFL Century Division title with a 31-17 victory over the second-place Cleveland Browns before a capacity of 58,800 at Busch Stadium. The football Cardinals will face the defending champion Dallas Cowboys in the division playoffs riding a four-game winning streak.

A few weeks ago, Cleveland seemed a lock for the title after Bill Nielsen took over as quarterback and guided the Browns to an eight-game unbeaten streak. At the end of November, Cleveland annihilated Philadelphia, 52-0, and had outscored its’ last three opponents by the score of 134-6. But on December 1, the tide turned quickly against Cleveland as they dropped their final home game, 21-16 to the Giants, on a last minute touchdown run by Bobby Duhon. The following week, the Cardinals edged those same Giants at Yankee Stadium, 39-38, to set up this final showdown for the division title.
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Jets Slip Past Chargers, 25 – 22.

Emerson Boozer breaks free against the San Diego defense.
Emerson Boozer breaks free against the San Diego defense.

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.

Continue reading “Jets Slip Past Chargers, 25 – 22.”

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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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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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.

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