Sports Illustrated has put out a piece on the “Biggest gut-punch loss” for each and every franchise, the Colts included.
The game that the author the piece, Doug Farrar, picked is an interesting one – a game that took place over 40 years ago and happened when the team was in Baltimore and not Indianapolis.
Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts: Jan. 12, 1969, Super Bowl III—Jets 16, Colts 7
The 1968 Baltimore Colts, coached by Don Shula, had one of the best defenses of all time and lost just one game in the regular season. Quarterback Earl Morrall was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, and given the ways in which the Packers beat the Chiefs and Raiders in the first two Super Bowls, nearly everyone expected Baltimore to put a serious smack-down on the Jets in Super Bowl III, especially after Joe Namath guaranteed victory in the week leading up to the game. It was not to be. The Jets defense, headed by defensive line coach Buddy Ryan, played a masterful game, and Morrall threw three interceptions. The Jets controlled the ball with tough running from Matt Snell, who picked up 121 yards on 30 carries and should have been the game’s MVP instead of Namath. The Jets’ win, one of the biggest upsets in sports history, brought a sense of equality and parity to the AFL-NFL merger, but it sure didn’t do anything for the Colts. Even when they won Super Bowl V two seasons later, the players on both teams said that the stink of the previous championship loss would never go away.
This last seasons AFC Title Game loss – even more so now with the ‘deflategate’ allegations behind it – could also rank on the list as toughest to handle losses.