So, tomorrow is Super Bowl XLIX (or for non-football fans, "the day all the cool new commercials come out."). Well, way back in 1971, Super Bowl V was played, between the Colts and Cowboys...
* At the time, the Super Bowl was still considered an event of not any particular significance, so no arrangements were made to preserve any of the broadcast. This was before the days of widespread recording devices, so a lot of everyday TV got the "London After Midnight" treatment and were permanently lost. The NFL has a special department called "NFL Films" which shoots games on high-quality film (now digital) as a highly successful promotional tool, and up until this year their film was the only known record of SB V. However, this year a copy of the broadcast turned up.
* There's a small but active community of folks who love the old NFL Films productions. One of the members, Dave Volsky, put together a series of YouTube videos which combine the new SB V footage with music, in the style of vintage NFL Films. Below is one of them.
* The reconstruction just reinforces what a comedy of errors the game was on both sides. To give some idea, in football three turnovers is usually enough to lose the game. In SB V, he Colts had 7, Dallas had 4; the Colts still won. There's many, many basic errors shown in the clips - ill-advised passes, poor ball security, bad tackling - in play after play, things that would would be embarrassing in a preseason game, much less the Super Bowl. I understand better now why the old Colts, when interviewed about this game, seemed to a man to be universally mortified at how badly they played as a group that day (go to 40 min mark in the link). I can only imagine what the Dallas players must have felt, being on the losing end. Probably mostly forgotten on their side as a bad memory, washed away in the joy of their win the following year in SB VI.
* The clip also displays how the game has advanced over the years. The straight-ahead kicking style, basically punching the ball with the foot, hadn't yet given way to the more accurate and efficient soccer-style kickers, and you can see some of why the straight-ahead style is now extinct in the clip. In other clips, you can see how even in very long yardage downs, both teams went with their standard formation packages, whereas today you'd see teams go with 4 wideouts and a shotgun formation (something Dallas coach Tom Landry would reintroduce into the NFL a few years later). Defenses were much more stacked to stop the run, understandable because passing was much more difficult before the revisions to the pass interference rules made in the late '70s opened the game up. Before then, wideouts running their pass patterns could be hit all over the field by defenders with impunity, which made running an accurate pattern quite difficult.
* Regarding the gadget play in the clip, there's some context to that play. Two years earlier, in Super Bowl III, the Colts' QB Earl Morrall had called the identical razzle-dazzle play at the end of the 2nd half, and it had worked perfectly with WR Jimmy Orr wide open at the goal line...except Morrall missed seeing him, and threw instead to an alternate receiver, which was intercepted. Morrall was heavily criticized after that game for that play. Well, here we are, two years later, with Morrall again at QB after the Colts starter (John Unitas) had been hurt, and the same play is called. Coincidence? I think not. I have to think Morrall was trying to get vindication for the SBIII disaster by calling it again two years later, only to have the play fall apart in an entirely different way. As with most things, context is everything.
* Finally, I'll admit, I am a sucker for upbeat synth music such as that used in the clip, which is probably a function of being a teen in the '80s...
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