Played in Baltimore, Maryland
|Team colors||Royal blue, white |
|Owner(s)|| Carroll Rosenbloom (1953–1972)|
Robert Irsay (1972–1983)
|Head coach|| Keith Molesworth (1953)|
Weeb Ewbank (1954–1962)
Don Shula (1963–1969)
Don McCafferty (1970–1972)
John Sandusky (1972)
Howard Schnellenberger (1973–1974)
Joe Thomas (1974)
Ted Marchibroda (1975–1979)
Mike McCormack (1980–1981)
Frank Kush (1982–1983)
| League championships (3†)|
|Conference championships (5)|
|Division championships (5)AFL–NFL merger|
|Playoff appearances (10)|
The professional American football team now known as the Indianapolis Colts played in Baltimore, Maryland, as the Baltimore Colts from its founding in 1953 to 1984. The team was named for Baltimore's history of horse breeding and racing. It was the second incarnation of the Baltimore Colts, the first having played for three years in the All-America Football Conference and one in the National Football League (NFL). The 1953–83 Baltimore Colts team played its home games at Memorial Stadium.
The Baltimore Colts were one of the first NFL teams to have cheerleaders, a marching band and a team "fight song" (along with the nearby Washington Redskins, forty miles southwest in the nation's capital).The Baltimore Colts were named after Baltimore's 142-year-old annual "Preakness Stakes", a premier thoroughbred horse racing event, second jewel of the famous "Triple Crown" championship series of the sport run at the historic Pimlico Race Course since 1873. This third, most famous Baltimore Colts pro football franchise was officially created in 1953, but can trace its history much earlier than that, to before the NFL itself actually began in 1920: its earliest predecessor was the old Dayton Triangles, a founding member of the reorganized and renamed National Football League of 1922, (from the old previous American Professional Football Conference, later renamed A.P.F. Association a few months later in 1920) that was originally created in 1913. Because of the link to the ancient Dayton Triangles, the Baltimore Colts can arguably claim to have played and won, on October 3, 1920, what could be considered the very first A.P.F.A./N.F.L. professional football game, with a 14–0 defeat of the rival Columbus Panhandles at Triangle Park in Dayton, Ohio. The team went through the following changes:
The Dallas Texans franchise was returned to the league November 14, 1952, and after they couldn't find a buyer for the team, the franchise was cancelled. The NFL had a hole in their calendar where the Texans were originally and awarded a new franchise to the Colts in January 1953. Currently, the NFL says that they consider the Colts to be a 1953 expansion team; it does not consider the Colts to be a continuation of the Triangles/Dodgers/Tigers/Yanks/Bulldogs/Yanks/Texans franchise, despite the assets of the franchise never missing a season in some form.
As the result of a fan contest in Baltimore, won by Charles Evans of Middle River in suburban eastern Baltimore County, the team was renamed the "Baltimore Colts". On September 7, 1947, wearing the green and silver uniforms, the Colts, under Head Coach Cecil Isbell, won their initial All-America Football Conference game in the A.A.F.C.'s second season, 16–7, over the Brooklyn Dodgers. Home site for the new AAFC games in "The Monumental City" was the old 1922 Municipal Stadium (also known as "Baltimore Stadium" or "Venable Stadium" - located in previous Venable Park) on the north side of 33rd Street boulevard in northeast Baltimore, later renovated and rebuilt with an upper tier added the following year for use also by the new American League of major league baseball's relocated franchise, the Baltimore Orioles). The football team concluded its inaugural season before a record Baltimore crowd of 51,583 by losing to the New York Yankees, 21–7. The Colts finished with a 2–11–1 record, good for a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Division of the A.A.F.C. The Colts completed the 1948 season with a 7–8 record, tying the Buffalo Bills for the division title. The Colts compiled a 1–11 mark in their third season of 1949. Y. A. Tittle, later to gain additional hall of fame status a decade later with the NFL's New York Giants was the Colts starting quarterback.
After four years of inter-league rivalry, competition, and player contract raiding, the A.A.F.C. and N.F.L. merged in 1950, and the Colts joined the reorganized new NFL, along with the San Francisco 49ers and the Cleveland Browns. After posting a 1–11 record for the second consecutive year, the NFL franchise of just one season was dissolved by the League on January 18, 1951. But many Baltimore fans protested the loss of their team and continued to support the marching band (the second in professional football, after that of the Washington Redskins) and fan club, both of which remained in operation ("in exile" status) and worked for the team's revival.
After two seasons without professional football, NFL Commissioner Bert Bell challenged the City of Baltimore under Mayor Thomas L. J. D'Alesandro Jr., in December 1952 to sell 15,000 season tickets within six weeks in order to re-enter the NFL. That 15,000-ticket quota was reached in just four weeks and three days. On January 23, 1953, with the encouragement of the city's civic and business leadership, under the principal ownership of Carroll Rosenbloom, the NFL sold the Dayton Triangles-Dallas Texans franchise to Baltimore where, keeping the "Colts" nickname, the Triangles-Texans team colors of blue and white were inherited. This is the franchise that exists today in Indianapolis in the modern National Football League.
In 1953, the second incarnation of the Baltimore Colts took the field for the first time ever at Memorial Stadium, (then also used temporarily by the old Baltimore Orioles minor league team in the International League since the burning in July 1944 of their Oriole Park home farther southeast at Greenmount Avenue and 29th Street in Waverly). The newly renamed Memorial field was being rebuilt and adding a second upper tier to old Municipal Stadium for use by the following year of the major league baseball's Baltimore Orioles franchise in the American League, relocated that November from St. Louis, Missouri as the St. Louis Browns. The 33rd Street field also then sometimes known as "Baltimore Stadium" or "Venable Stadium" for its location in the former Venable Park along the north side of the 33rd Street boulevard, constructed originally as a football-only bowl in 1922 in only seven months and later capable of holding almost 100,000 fans for the frequent high school and local collegiate/university games there during the following three decades), on September 27 to face off against the Chicago Bears. The Colts would go on to win the game 13–9 and stun the Bears. The team's lack of experience showed as the team finished 3–9. In 1955, the Colts had 12 rookies make the team. In 1956, quarterback George Shaw went down with a serious injury in the fourth game of the season. The Colts' unproven backup, Johnny Unitas, would go on to win half the remaining eight games to give the Colts a record of 5–7 for the season.
The Colts won their first NFL Championship in 1958. The 1958 NFL Championship game is widely known as the "Greatest Game Ever Played" for its dramatic conclusion with quarterback Johnny Unitas marching the Colts downfield in sudden death overtime and Alan Ameche scoring the winning touchdown on a 1-yard run. Much of the credit for Baltimore's success went to Hall of Famers Johnny Unitas, halfback Lenny Moore, and wide receiver Raymond Berry.
Following the Colts' first NFL championship, the team once again posted a 9–3 record during the 1959 season and once again defeated the Giants in the NFL Championship Game to claim their second title in back to back fashion.Following the two championships in 1958 and 1959, the Colts did not return to the NFL Championship for four seasons and saw a transition from head coach Ewbank to a young Don Shula in 1963. In Shula's second season the Colts compiled a 12–2 record, but lost 27–0 to the Cleveland Browns in the NFL Championship. In 1965 the Colts played the Green Bay Packers in a playoff to determine who would go to the NFL Championship game. The Colts were leading 10–7 over the Green Bay Packers with two minutes left to play when the Packers' kicker, Don Chandler seemed to barely miss a field goal. The referee called it good however, and the Packers went on to win the game in overtime. The error precipitated changes to the rules: the NFL decided two referees would judge future field goals, and that the uprights should be raised by ten feet. In 1968 the Colts returned with the continued leadership of Unitas and Shula and went on to win the Colts' third NFL Championship and made an appearance in Super Bowl III. In 1968, Unitas was injured and replaced by Earl Morrall who became the league's MVP.
Leading up to the Super Bowl and following the 34–0 trouncing of the Cleveland Browns in the NFL Championship, many were calling the 1968 Colts team one of the "greatest pro football teams of all time"and were favored by 18 points against their counterparts from the American Football League, the New York Jets. The Colts, however, were stunned by the Jets, who won the game 16–7 in the first Super Bowl victory for the young AFL. The result of the game surprised many in the sports media as Joe Namath and Matt Snell led the Jets to the Super Bowl victory under head coach Weeb Ewbank, who had previously won two NFL Championships with the Colts.
Rosenbloom of the Colts, Art Modell of the Browns, and Art Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to have their teams join the ten AFL teams in the AFC as part of the AFL–NFL merger in 1970.The Colts immediately went on a rampage in the new league, as new head coach Don McCafferty led the 1970 team to an 11–2–1 regular-season record, winning the AFC East title. In the first round of the NFL Playoffs, the Colts beat the Cincinnati Bengals 17–0; one week later in the first-ever AFC Championship Game, they beat the Oakland Raiders 27–17. Baltimore went on to win the first post-merger Super Bowl (Super Bowl V), defeating the NFC's Dallas Cowboys 16–13 on a Jim O'Brien field goal with five seconds left to play. The victory gave the Colts their fourth NFL championship and first Super Bowl victory. Following the championship, the Colts returned to the playoffs in 1971, winning their opening playoff game against the Browns 20–3, but lost in the second AFC Championship Game in Miami 21–0.
Citing friction with the City of Baltimore and the local press, Rosenbloom traded the Colts franchise to Robert Irsay on July 13, 1972, and received the Los Angeles Rams in return.Under the new ownership, the Colts did not reach the postseason for three consecutive seasons after 1971, and after the 1972 season, starting quarterback and legend Johnny Unitas was traded to the San Diego Chargers. Following Unitas' departure, the Colts made the playoffs three consecutive seasons from 1975 to 1977, losing in the divisional round each time. The Colts' 1977 playoff loss in double overtime against the Oakland Raiders was famous for the fact that it was the last playoff game for the Colts in Baltimore and is also known for the Ghost to the Post play. These consecutive playoff teams featured 1976 NFL Most Valuable Player Bert Jones at quarterback and an outstanding defensive line, nicknamed the "Sack Pack."
Following this relative success in the 1970s, the Colts suffered a string of disappointing seasons, often finishing in last place in their division. Attendance began to dwindle in the early 1970s and remained that way for the rest of the team's tenure in Baltimore. The Colts would endure nine consecutive losing seasons beginning in 1978. In 1981, the Colts defense allowed an NFL-record 533 points, set an all-time record for fewest sacks (13), and also set a modern record for fewest punt returns (12).The following year, the offense collapsed, including a game against the Buffalo Bills where the Colts' offense did not cross mid-field the entire game. The Colts finished 0–8–1 in the strike-shortened 1982 season, thereby earning the right to select Stanford quarterback John Elway with the first overall pick. Elway, however, refused to play for Baltimore, and using leverage as a draftee of the New York Yankees baseball club, forced a trade to Denver. Behind an improved defense the team finished 7–9 in 1983, but that would be their last season in Baltimore.
The city of Indianapolis, Indiana, made an offer for the Colts franchise to move there. Baltimore was unsuccessful at persuading them to stay, so the city government attempted to get the state legislature to condemn the Colts franchise and give ownership to another group that would promise to keep the Colts in Baltimore. Oakland, California had just had some success in court trying the same tactic with the Oakland Raiders. Under the threat of eminent domain from the city of Baltimore, the franchise relocated to Indianapolis in the middle of the night on March 29, 1984.
The city of Baltimore did not give up and sued to condemn the franchise anyway and seize ownership. Baltimore did not prevail in court,but eventually acquired a new NFL team in 1996 with the establishment of the Baltimore Ravens following the Cleveland Browns relocation controversy.
Many former Colts players were infuriated by the move. Among the most notable was Johnny Unitas, who opted to cut all ties with his former team after the incident.Unitas aligned himself with the Ravens when they moved to Baltimore, and a statue of him was placed outside of M&T Bank Stadium.
The NFL treats the Baltimore Colts and the Indianapolis Colts (including logos, history, and records) as one continuous franchise from 1953 to the present. Despite this, many former Baltimore Colts players, led by Johnny Unitas, disowned the Colts franchise after the move to Indianapolis, instead choosing to remain loyal to the City of Baltimore. These former players embraced the new Baltimore Ravens franchise when it arrived in Baltimore in 1996.The Ravens do claim the history of the Baltimore Colts as part of their own and have added the Baltimore Colt Hall of Famers to the Baltimore Ravens Ring of Honor. The Ravens officially have no retired numbers, but out of respect for Unitas, only quarterback Scott Mitchell has worn the number 19, which he did in his lone season in Baltimore in 1999. The Baltimore Colts Marching Band, which continued to operate after the Colts moved, became Baltimore's Marching Ravens.
On the other hand, there have been many former Baltimore Colts players who have embraced the franchise as continuous, from Baltimore to Indianapolis. In 2009, Jim Irsay held a reunion of his favorite Colts team ever, the 1975 AFC East champions. 39 of the 50 players on that roster attended the reunion at Lucas Oil Stadium, including quarterback Bert Jones and running back Lydell Mitchell. Also, On February 5, 2012, at Super Bowl XLVI, Hall-of-Fame Baltimore Colts wide receiver Raymond Berry carried the Vince Lombardi Trophy to midfield to present it to the New York Giants, who had just defeated the New England Patriots.He was given the honor due to the game being played at Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Colts have played since 2008.
Although the retired numbers of the Indianapolis Colts officially includes Unitas and others dating back to the Baltimore days,the Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor currently only includes players who have played in Indianapolis, with the exception of Chris Hinton, who played for the Baltimore Colts in his rookie season in 1983.
|NFL champions (1920–1969)||Super Bowl champions (1970–present)||Conference champions||Division champions||Wild card berth||One-game playoff berth|
|Season||Team||League||Conference||Division||Regular season [a]||Postseason results||Awards [b] [c]|
|1955||1955||NFL||Western||—||4th||5||6||1||Alan Ameche (OROY)|
|1956||1956||NFL||Western||—||4th||5||7||0||Lenny Moore (OROY)|
|1958||1958||NFL||Western||—||1st||9||3||0||Won NFL Championship (1) (Giants) 23–17|
|1959||1959||NFL||Western||—||1st||9||3||0||Won NFL Championship (2) (Giants) 31–16|
|1964||1964||NFL||Western||—||1st||12||2||0||Lost NFL Championship (Browns) 27–0|| Johnny Unitas (MVP) |
Don Shula (COY)
|1965||1965||NFL||Western||—||2nd||10||3||1||Lost Conference Playoff Game (Packers) 13–10|
|1967 [e]||1967||NFL||Western||Coastal||2nd||11||1||2|| Johnny Unitas (MVP) |
Don Shula (COY)
|1968||1968||NFL||Western||Coastal||1st||13||1||0||Won Divisional Playoffs (Vikings) 24–14|
Won NFL Championship (Browns) 34–0
Lost Super Bowl III (Jets) 16–7
| Earl Morrall (MVP) |
Don Shula (COY)
|1970||1970||NFL||AFC||East||1st||11||2||1||Won Divisional Playoffs (Bengals) 17–0|
Won Conference Championship (Raiders) 27–17
Won Super Bowl V (3) (Cowboys) 16–13
|Johnny Unitas (WP MOY)|
|1971||1971||NFL||AFC||East||2nd||10||4||0||Won Divisional Playoffs (Browns) 20–3|
Lost Conference Championship (Dolphins) 21–0
|1975||1975||NFL||AFC||East||1st [f]||10||4||0||Lost Divisional Playoffs (Steelers) 28–10||Ted Marchibroda (COY)|
|1976||1976||NFL||AFC||East||1st [g]||11||3||0||Lost Divisional Playoffs (Steelers) 40–14||Bert Jones (MVP, OPOY)|
|1977||1977||NFL||AFC||East||1st [h]||10||4||0||Lost Divisional Playoffs (Raiders) 37–31 (2OT) [i]|
|1983||1983||NFL||AFC||East||4th||7||9||0||Vernon Leroy Maxwell (DROY)|
|Baltimore Colts regular season record (1953–1983)||222||194||7||.533|
|Baltimore Colts post-season record (1953–1983)||8||7||—||.533|
|All-time regular and post-season record||230||201||7||.533|
Includes Players That ONLY Played in Baltimore
|Baltimore Colts retired numbers|
|Baltimore Colts Hall of Famers|
|82||Raymond Berry||WR||1955–1967||1973||24||Lenny Moore||HB||1956–1967||1975|
|70||Art Donovan||DT||1953–1961||1968||77||Jim Parker||OL||1957–1967||1973|
|83||Ted Hendricks||LB||1969–1973||1990||34||Joe Perry||FB||1961–1962||1969|
|88||John Mackey||TE||1963–1971||1992||19||Johnny Unitas||QB||1956–1972||1979|
|Coaches and Executives|
|Mike McCormack||Coach||1980–1981||1984||Inducted for playing Offensive tackle|
|Don Shula||Coach||1963–1969||1997||Shula was also a defensive back for Baltimore (1953–1956)|
The American Football Conference (AFC) is one of the two conferences of the National Football League (NFL), the highest professional level of American football in the United States. This conference currently contains 16 teams organized into 4 divisions, as does its counterpart, the National Football Conference (NFC). Both conferences were created as part of the 1970 merger between the National Football League, and the American Football League (AFL). All ten of the AFL teams, and three NFL teams, became members of the new AFC, with the remaining thirteen NFL teams forming the NFC. A series of league expansions and division realignments have occurred since the merger, thus making the current total of 16 teams in each conference. The current AFC champions are the Kansas City Chiefs, who defeated the Buffalo Bills in the 2020 AFC Championship Game for their second consecutive conference championship.
The Baltimore Ravens are a professional American football team based in Baltimore. The Ravens compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the American Football Conference (AFC) North division. The team plays its home games at M&T Bank Stadium and is headquartered in Owings Mills, Maryland.
The Indianapolis Colts are an American football team based in Indianapolis. The Colts compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) South division. Since the 2008 season, the Colts have played their games in Lucas Oil Stadium. Previously, the team had played for over two decades (1984–2007) at the RCA Dome. Since 1987, the Colts have served as the host team for the NFL Scouting Combine.
John Constantine Unitas was a National Football League (NFL) quarterback for 18 seasons, primarily with the Baltimore Colts. He has been consistently listed as one of the greatest NFL players of all time following a career that spanned from 1956 to 1973.
The New England Patriots are a professional American football team based in the Greater Boston area. They compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) East division. The team plays its home games at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, which is 22 miles (35 km) southwest of downtown Boston.
The AFC Championship Game is the annual championship game of the American Football Conference (AFC) and one of the two semi-final playoff games of the National Football League (NFL), the largest professional American football league in the United States. The game is played on the penultimate Sunday in January by the two remaining playoff teams, following the AFC postseason's first two rounds. The AFC champion then advances to face the winner of the NFC Championship Game in the Super Bowl.
The American Football Conference – Northern Division or AFC North is one of the four divisions of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The division was adopted after the restructuring of the 2002 NFL season, when the league realigned divisions after expanding to 32 teams. This is the only division in the NFL in which no member team has hosted a Super Bowl in their stadiums.
The American Football Conference – Southern Division or AFC South is one of the four divisions of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). It was created before the 2002 season when the league realigned divisions after expanding to 32 teams. Since its creation, the division has had the same four members: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tennessee Titans.
Thomas Roland Matte, is a former American football player who played quarterback in college and primarily running back in the National Football League (NFL) in the 1960s and 1970s and earned a Super Bowl Ring. He attended Shaw High School in East Cleveland and is an Eagle Scout. Matte was an All-American back at Ohio State University.
James Caldwell is an American football coach and former player. He served as the head football coach at Wake Forest University from 1993 to 2000, and as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2009 to 2011 and Detroit Lions from 2014 to 2017. Caldwell has been a part of two Super Bowl-winning teams in his career; as the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach of the 2006 Colts, and as offensive coordinator of the 2012 Baltimore Ravens.
This article details the history of the Baltimore Ravens, a professional American football team which plays in the National Football League. The Ravens were formed to fill in the void left by Baltimore's previous team, the Colts, who had controversially moved to Indianapolis. Ironically, the Ravens' formation necessitated the relocation of the Cleveland Browns' players and personnel, leaving Cleveland without a team until the Browns resumed operations as an expansion team three years later. Since then the Ravens have usually featured a strong defense and have won two Super Bowl championships.
The Colts–Patriots rivalry is a National Football League (NFL) rivalry between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots. It is considered one of the most famous rivalries in the NFL. The two teams have combined for seven Super Bowl victories and eleven AFC Championships since 2001, while both a The nature of this rivalry is somewhat ironic because while the Colts and Patriots were AFC East division rivals from 1970–2001, their intensified enmity was not prevalent until Indianapolis was moved into the newly formed AFC South following the 2001 season as part of the NFL's realignment. Following New England's 43–22 win in the 2013–14 playoffs the Patriots lead the series with nine wins versus five wins for the Colts, and the Patriots hold a lead in points scored, 411–351.
The 1970 Baltimore Colts season was the 18th season for the team in the National Football League. Led by first-year head coach Don McCafferty, the Colts finished the 1970 season with a regular season record of 11 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie to win the first AFC East title. The Colts completed the postseason in Miami with a victory over the Cowboys in Super Bowl V, their first Super Bowl title and third world championship. The Baltimore Colts would not return to a championship game again.
The Indianapolis Colts are a professional American football team based in Indianapolis, Indiana. They play in the South Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The organization began play in 1953 as the Baltimore Colts with the team located in Baltimore, Maryland; it relocated to Indianapolis following the 1983 season.
As with all sports leagues, there are a number of significant rivalries in the National Football League (NFL). Rivalries are occasionally created due to a particular event that causes bad blood between teams, players, coaches, or owners, but for the most part, they arise simply due to the frequency with which some teams play each other, and sometimes exist for geographic reasons.
The 1995 AFC Championship Game was the championship game for the American Football Conference for the 1995 season. The game was played on January 14, 1996 at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who hosted the Indianapolis Colts for the chance to play the winner of the National Football Conference in Super Bowl XXX in Tempe, Arizona.
The 2012 Baltimore Ravens season was the team's 17th season in the National Football League. While the Ravens failed to improve on their 12–4 record from 2011, they still managed to clinch the AFC North division title in Week 16 and finish the regular season with a 10–6 record, sending them to their fifth straight playoffs, where they advanced to the AFC Championship Game for the second consecutive season, and then to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2000. They won their second Super Bowl, 34–31 against the San Francisco 49ers. It was the first time in franchise history that the Ravens won consecutive division titles. This marks head coach John Harbaugh's fifth season as the head coach of the franchise and fifth consecutive post-season appearance. The Ravens played their home games at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Ravens–Titans rivalry is a professional American football rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans in the National Football League’s American Football Conference. Originally divisional rivals in the AFC Central, the Ravens and Titans developed strong enmity between each other before the two teams were moved to separate divisions. The teams have met in the playoffs five times and are both known for their strong defensive play. The rivalry is one of the tightest in the NFL with a 13-13 lifetime record and a points differential as of the 2020 season of 47 in favor of Baltimore.