Super Bowl V: A Personal and Historical Memoir-part 3: Blunder Bowl or Hard Hitting Defense

Chuck Howly is the only Super Bowl MVP from a losing team. He intercepted Morrall in the endzone early in the fourth quarter

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Larry Cole attempts to swat an Earl Morrall pass in Super Bowl V

While Super Bowl V was a great memory for me personally as a Colts fan, the game itself was not seen in the same light among football historians and media people who covered it at the time. Sports Illustrated dubbed the game, “The Blunder Bowl.”

I can certainly understand why because in that game both teams combined to commit 11 turnovers. The Colts committed seven of them—which is still a Super Bowl record for  turnovers by a winning team. The Cowboys committed 10 penalties for 133 yards. It was a game that probably set offense back about 10,000t years.

That’s because both teams were among the top 10 in the NFL in defense-the Cowboys had the NFL’s fourth rated defense and had future Hall of Famers like cornerback Mel Renfro, Herb Adderly and defensive tackle Bob Lilly. The Colts, who sported the NFL’s ninth ranked defense, had guys like defensive end Bubba Smith, middle linebacker Mike Curtis (who I think should be a Hall of Famer) and the man known as the “Mad Stork” linebacker Ted Hendricks.

Cowboys middle linebacker Chuck Howly was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. He is the only player from a losing team to be the MVP of the Super Bowl. He reportedly refused to accept the award because his team didn’t win the game.

According to people like Jim O’Brien and the late Cowboys head coach Tom Landry, the game on the field was extremely phyiscal. Said Landry of that game:

“I haven’t been around many games where the players hit harder. Sometimes people watch a game and see turnovers and they talk about how sloppy the play was. The mistakes in that game weren’t invented, at least not by the people who made them. Most were forced.”

Oddly enough, the players from that 1970 Colts team did not view their victory over Dallas as something that made up for losing Super Bowl III to the New York Jets. Bubba Smith reportedly said he doesn’t wear his Super Bowl Ring because it was such a sloppy game. The Colts from that team, especially those who played against the Jets, saw the win over Dallas as a bittersweet win because the game was sloppy.

Guys like Mike Curtis and Bubba Smith say they still feel the sting of that Super Bowl III loss and not even the win in Super Bowl V was enough to ease that pain. A lot of Colts fans (myself included) have never quite gotten over that game.

NFL films guru Steve Sabol once told the story about Colts head coach Don McCafferty who was  being asked about what he wanted on the Colts Super Bowl ring. Names like excellence, pride or poise were thrown out there. However, McCafferty, the man known as Easy Rider, preferred a more truthful, honest inscription: “Thank God!”

On the other side, there were some interesting firsts in that game. It was the first Super Bowl played on artificial turf and it was the first year that Vince Lombardi’s name was inscribed on the Super Bowl trophy. It was the first time the winner of the Super Bowl did not score first. It was the slimmest margin of victory for the winning team at that time. It is one of six of the 43 Super Bowls that was decided by three points or less. You had what was then the longest touchdown pass in Super Bowl history—Unitas’s tip drill pass to tight end  John Mackey that went for 75 yards.

And last, but not least it was the first Super Bowl to end on a last-second field—something that would not happen again in a Super Bowl for 20 years in Super Bowl 25 when Buffalo’s Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal to give the New York Giants a one-point win.

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