The History of the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts
1947-1952: In the rival All-American Football Conference, Baltimore is granted a franchise after the Miami Seahawks fold. The team would be named Colts in honor of Baltimore rich history with racing, and breeding of horses. The Colts would incur moderate success in the rival league before becoming one of four teams to join the NFL in 1950. However the team could not make money, and folded after just one season. Meanwhile the New York Yankees another former AAFC team that had joined the NFL in 1950 also was having problems, and was about to be sold to Baltimore inventors in 1951. However, the league bought the team instead and had them playing Dallas. The Texans were a miserable failure, and by the middle of the season were operating out of Hershey, PA, and playing all their games on the road. The team would fold at the end of the season. However, it would open the door for Baltimore to get a second chance and to replace the Texans; Baltimore was granted a franchise that would pay homage to the former team by caring the name Colts.
1953 : The second incarnation of the Baltimore Colts first took the field at Memorial Stadium on September 27th, with Coach Keith Molesworth leading them into battle with the Chicago Bears. The Colts would stun the Bears that day 13-9 to get the new franchise off on the right foot. The Colts would go on to play well in a 3-2 start. However, the team’s inexperience caught up with them and they lost their final seven games of the season to finish at 3-9. Following the season Coach Molesworth is reassigned, to the team’s director of scouting while Weeb Ewbank is brought in to lead the team on the field.
1954 : The young Colts continued to struggle in their first season under Coach Weeb Ewbank, duplicating their 3-9 inaugural season record.
1955 : With 12 rookies making the team, the Colts were clearly a team for the future, and for a brief time it looked as if the future was now when the team got off to a 3-0 start. However, the team would only win two more games the rest of the season finishing with a 5-6-1 record.
1956 : The Colts are forced to go to an unproven back up after Quarterback George Shaw was lost to injury after the fourth game of the season with Colts sitting at 1-3. The unproven backup was once drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but quickly failed and was released. He would go on to play semi-pro ball before being picked up by the Cots. However, little did anyone know at the time the unproven backup named Johnny Unitas, was about to embark on one of the greatest careers in NFL history. Unitas would play solid football as the Colts split the eight games he started to finish with a 5-7 record.
1957 : In Johnny Unitas’ first full season as starting Quarterback, the Colts get off to a 3-0 start, and are a factor all year in the race for the Western Division Title. After losing 3 in a row, the Colts responded by winning four games in a row, and sat at 7-3 with the Western Division Title within their grasp. However, the Colts would lose their final two games of the season and at 7-5, one game out of a two way tie for the division title.
1958 : The Colts flew out of the gate winning their first six games; on the way to a 9-1 start that had sewn up the Western Division Title. However, the Colts would limp into the NFL Championship game after losing their final two games of the season. On December 28th the Colts prepared to face the New York Giants in the NFL Championship game at Yankee Stadium, as nationwide Television audience settled in for their first true glance at a NFL Championship Game. For years the NFL had toiled in local markets without national attention, while trying to get itself in to America’s consciousness. Throughout the 50’s the NFL had grown, but the growth had not made it into mass appeal yet. The NFL only hoped this game would help in attaining that goal. The Colts went to halftime with a 14-3 lead after scoring two Touchdowns in the 2nd Quarter. However, the Giants would come back, and take a 17-14 lead, as Colts Kicker Steve Myhra missed two Field Goals. With time winding down Johnny Unitas brought the Colts down field, setting up Myhra for a 20-yard Field Goal that tied the game with seven seconds left. The 4th Quarter would end tied a 17, meaning the NFL would have to use overtime for the first time ever. The rule was simple who scored first won, and when eth Giants got the ball first the Colts knew they must stop them. The Colts defense rose to the occasion forcing the Giants to put after just three plays. The Colts would get the ball, but after Unitas lost eight yards on a sack the drive looked stalled at 3rd and 15. However, Unitas would hit Wide Receiver Raymond Berry with a clutch pass that gave the Colts a 1st down in Giants territory. The Colts continued to drive down the field until a Unitas pass set them up on the 1-yard line first and goal. Not content with a Field Goal, Unitas handed off to Alan Ameche who dove across the goal line to give the Colts a 23-17 win, in what many called the greatest game ever. The game would serve as a launching point, and was the start of the NFL’s remarkable boom in popularity.
1959 : The Colts use a season ending five game winning streak to win their 2nd straight Western Division Championship with a 9-3 record. The Colts would find themselves in a Championship Game rematch with New York Giants, with the game this time being played at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium. For the first three quarters the Colts fans watched in shock as the Colts fell behind 9-7. However Johnny Unitas would lead the Colts back in the 4th Quarter scoring 24 unanswered points, as the Colts to claim their second straight NFL Championship with a 31-16 victory.
1960 : The Colts were a strong contender for the Western Division Title again with a 6-2 start. However, the Colts would drop their final four games as their two year Championship reign ended with a disappointing 6-6- record.
1961 : The Colts play mediocre football through the first half of the season, and end up being a non-factor in the playoff race, while finishing with an 8-6 record.
1962 : With injuries and age taking their toll the Colts struggle all season finishing with a 7-7 record. Following the season Coach Weeb Ewbank would be fired, and replaced by Don Shula who had played with Colts in their inaugural season of 1953.
1963 : With an influx of young talent the Colts struggle early in their first season under Coach Don Shula. However the Colts would end the season on a strong note by winning their final three games to finish with an 8-6 record.
1964 : After dropping the first game of the season in Minnesota to the Vikings the Colts embark on a ten game winning streak on the way to winning the Western Division Championship with a 12-2 record, as Quarterback Johnny Unitas wins the NFL MVP with 2,824 yards passing. In the NFL Championship Game the Colts face the Cleveland Browns. However, nothing would go right n Cleveland as the Colts are whitewashed 27-0.
1965 : The Colts appear to be a strong contender for the Western Division Championship again. However injuries to Quarterback Johnny Unitas and back up Gary Cuozzo, forced the Colts to turn to Tom Matte in a must win season ending game in Los Angeles against the Rams. Wearing a plastic wrist brace that carried the team’s list of plays, Matte led Baltimore to a 20-17 victory that gave the Colts a share of the Western Division Title at 10-3-1 with the Green Bay Packers. The Colts and Packers would battle into overtime with the game tied at 10. However, there was no magic for the Colts this time as the Packers won the game on a Field Goal a little over a minute into the second overtime period.
1966 : The Colts put together another solid 9-5 season. However, they are swept by the Green Bay Packers who beat the Colts by three games to claim the western division title.
1967 : Led by Johnny Unitas who wins the NFL MVP with 3,428 yards passing the Colts tear through the NFL going undefeated through the first 13 games of the season with a record of 11-0-2. However, the Colts still needed to beat the Rams in Los Angeles to claim the Coastal Division Championship. Unfortunately, for the Colts the Rams would win the game 34-10 to win the Division title and advance to the postseason, as the Colts went home despite an 11-1-2 record.
1968 : Johnny Unitas misses most of the season with a chronically sore elbow. However, the Colts do not miss a beat as backup Quarterback Earl Morrall steps in and wins the MVP, while leading the Colts on a record breaking 13-1 season, which easily captures the Coastal Division. While Morrall led the offense, the Colts defense shut out three opponents while allowing a record low 144 points. In the Divisional Playoff round the Colts beat the Minnesota Vikings 24-14 before a sold out crowd at Memorial Stadium. In the NFL Championship Game the Colts faced the Browns in Cleveland hoping to avenge their only loss of the season. The game was never close as the Colts destroyed the Browns 34-0, to advance to Super Bowl III.
Super Bowl III : Going in to Super Bowl III in Miami the Colts were favored by 18 points as they faced the New York Jets who were coached by Weeb Ewbank. Most still viewed the AFL as a lesser league, and winning the Super Bowl was just a mere formality for the Colts. However, the Jets came in confident as Quarterback Joe Namath guaranteed a victory. The first half was a defense struggle as the Jets had a 7-0 lead late in the 2nd Quarter. The Colts finally started to get down the field as time was winding down in the first half. However, on a key play Earl Morrall could not see a wide-open Jimmy Orr, and threw into heavy coverage where Johnny Sample picked him off. It was one three interceptions Earl Morrall threw in the game, as the Jets grabbed a 16-0 lead early in the 4th Quarter. Desperate to make a comeback the Colts put Johnny Unitas into the game, and he would get the Colts on the board with a long touchdown drive. With less than four minutes the desperate Colts recovered an onside kick to keep their hopes alive. However, not even Unitas had enough magic this day as the Jets completed the biggest upset in NFL history 16-7.
1969 : Still suffering from a Super Bowl hangover the Colts stumble out of the gates losing their first two games the Colts struggle to finish with an 8-5-1 record, as they are never a factor in the race for the Coastal Division Title. Following the season Coach Don Shula who fell out of favor with Owner Carroll Rosenbloom was allowed to resign so he could take the coaching job with Miami Dolphins. Assistant Coach Don McCafferty would replace Shula in Baltimore.
1970 : The Colts are one of three teams that are shifted to the AFC as the NFL-AFL merger is completed with each conference having an equal amount of teams, and divisions. The Colts have no problems adjusting to the AFC winning the Eastern Division while posting an impressive 11-2-1 record. During the season the Colts would get revenge for Super Bowl III, by beating the New York Jets, who are now a division rival twice. In the Divisional Playoffs the Colts smother the Cincinnati Bengals 17-0 before a raucous crowd at Memorial Stadium. The old stadium on 33rd street was the site again as the Colts faced the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Championship. The Colts were not to be denied beating the Raiders 27-17 to advance to Super Bowl V.
Super Bowl V : The Colts returned to Miami, determined not to repeat their mistakes from Super Bowl III. This time their opponents were the Dallas Cowboys who were trying to erase the reputation of losing the big one. The Cowboys jumped out to a 6-0 lead on two Field Goals before the Colts tied it on a 75-yard pass from Johnny Unitas to John Mackey. However the Colts had the PAT blocked and the game remained tied. The Cowboys would jump out in front again and went into the 4th Quarter holding a 13-6 lead into halftime. Earl Morrall relieved an injured Unitas in the 2nd half the game as the two teams kept fumbling the ball back-and-forth in a game that got the nickname blunder bowl as both teams combined had 11 turnovers. The Colts would tie the game midway through the final period on a two yard plunge by Running Back Tom Nowatzke. With less than two minutes left Cowboys Running Back Dan Reeves fumbled the ball setting up the Colts in Dallas territory. The Colts would win the game on a 32-yard Field Goal from Jim O’Brien with five seconds left.
1971 : Despite obvious declines from Quarterbacks Johnny Unitas, and Earl Morrall the Colts appeared to be on the verge of winning the AFC East again after beating the Miami Dolphins 14-3 in the next to last game of the season. However, the Colts would drop a home game in the final game of the season to the New England Patriots, forcing them to settle for the Wild Card with a 10-4 record. In the Divisional Round the Colts would stun the Browns in Cleveland 20-3 to advance to the AFC Championship Game for the second year in a row. However, the Colts would run into a buzz saw as the Miami Dolphins coached by Don Shula shutout the Colts 21-0 ending the Colts hopes for a second straight Super Bowl.
1972 : On July 26th Carroll Rosenbloom and Robert Irsay, who had recently taken over the Los Angeles Rams, traded ownership of the two franchises, with players and coaching staffs remaining intact. However, the Colts were an aging team and when they got off to a 1-4 start Coach Don McCafferty was fired. The Colts would go 4-5 in their final nine games under John Sandusky to finish with a 5-9 record, their first losing mark in 16 years. Following the season, the Colts would see an end of an era when Johnny Unitas is traded to the San Diego Chargers. However, Unitas would not leave without one final great moment, as he came off the bench his final game at Memorial Stadium to replace replaced Marty Domres leading the Colts hitting Eddie Hinton on a 55-yard Touchdown pass late in the 4th Quarter to help beat the Buffalo Bills 35-7, as Memorial Stadium gave the legendary a standing ovation as a small plane carried a banner reading “Unitas We Stand”.
1973 : A new era began for the Colts as they bring in Howard Schnellenberger to lead the young Colts. The young Colts struggled early with Quarterback Marty Domres during a 2-10 start. However, in the final games of the season the rookie Bert Jones replaced Domres, and led the Colts to a stunning upset of the Miami Dolphins as the Colts won their final two games to end the season at 4-10.
1974 : The Colts would get off to a 0-3 start when Coach Howard Schnellenberger is fired and replaced by Joe Thomas, the Colts would not perform any better on Thomas compiling a miserable 2-12 season.
1975 : Under new coach Ted Marchibroda the Colts would get off to a 1-4 start after winning their first game at Chicago against the Bears. However, the Colts would start winning as Quarterback Bert Jones, and Running Back Lydell Mitchell came of age and led the Colts an seven game winning streak that had them set up in a showdown at Memorial; Stadium for the AFC East with the Miami Dolphins. The game would be a defensive struggle and went into Overtime tied 7-7, when Tony Linhart kicked the Colts into first place. The Colts would go on to win their last game of the season to claim the AFC East with a 10-4 record. However, in the Divisional Playoffs the young Colts were no match for the super Steelers in Pittsburgh, suffering a season ending 28-10 loss.
1976 : The Colts season was almost derailed before it ever began as a dispute between Owner Robert Irsay and Coach Ted Marchibroda led to a resignation from the popular coach. However, after players threatened mutiny Marchibroda was reinstated. The Colts would go on to have a stellar season led by Quarterback Bert Jones who wins the NFL MVP, by passing for 3,104 yards, as the Colts put together a solid season and win the AFC East with an 11-3 record. However in the Divisional Playoffs the Colts are mauled by the Pittsburgh Steelers again 40-29, despite playing in Baltimore.
1977 : After a 9-1 start the Colts lose three straight and face a must win game for the AFC East title in the final game of the year at Memorial Stadium against the New England Patriots. The game would be a shootout as the Colts won their third straight Division Title with a 30-24 victory to finish with a 10-4 record. In the Divisional Playoff the Colts would host the Oakland Raiders in a back and forth battle that went into double overtime. However, once again the Colts would go home empty handed as the Raiders won it 37-31.
1978 : The Colts march to a fourth straight AFC East Title was over before it began as Quarterback Bert Jones was injured and the Colts lost their first two games by a combined 80-0 score. Jones would return but would be injured again as the Colts defense gave up 421 points in a disappointing 5-11 season.
1979 : Veteran Quarterback Greg Landry replaces Bert Jones as starter, as the Colts continue to struggle finishing with another 5-11 record. Following the season Coach Ted Marchibroda would be fired, and replaced by Mike McCormick.
1980 : Bert Jones regains the starting job at Quarterback, and has a solid 3,134 yard passing season. However the Colts would play inconstant football as the defense struggled during an unrewarding 7-9 season.
1981 : The Colts started the season on the right foot winning their first game of the season in New England 29-28 over the Patriots. However, the Colts would not win again until they played the Patriots at home in the final game of the season compiling a miserable 2-14 season, in which the Colts allowed 533 points. Following the season Quarterback Bert Jones traded to the Los Angeles Rams despite a strong 3,094-yard season. In addition Coach Mike McCormick is fired and replaced by Frank Kush.
1982 : Attendance begins to dwindle at Memorial Stadium as fans get fed up with Colts losing during a season interrupted by a two month strike. Actually the strike provided relief for the Colts, as the possibly avoided one of the worst seasons in NFL history. The Colts were simply awful, during a season, which saw them go winless while tying one game in a nine game season.
1983 : With the number one pick in the NFL Draft the Colts select Quarterback John Elway from Stanford. However, Elway refused to go to Baltimore and threatened to play minor league baseball or in the newly formed USFL. Fearful the Colts would get nothing for his rights the Colts trade John Elway to the Denver Broncos, before he ever put on the horseshoed helmet. After starting the season with an overtime win in New England over the Patriots the Colts faced the Broncos in the home opener as Baltimore fans are hostile to Elway. However, fans get to see what they missed when Elway leads a game winning drive in the 4th Quarter. Despite losing out on Elway, and one year suspension for gambling by Quarterback Art Schlichter, the Colts play solid football compiling a 7-9 record. However, attendance lags, as fans continue to disapprove of the way Robert Irsay runs the club.
1984 : Little did anyone know on December 18th 1983 the Colts had played their final game in Baltimore. Almost after the season ending win at Memorial Stadium; Colts owner Robert Irsay began talking to other cities about moving the club. On February 13th he toured the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis. The Colts also spoke to officials in Phoenix, as the Maryland legislature tried to use eminent domain laws to force the franchise to remain in Maryland. On March 28th Phoenix dropped out of the bidding, as Irsay called up officials in Indiana saying he was on the way. However, he kept the move secret until just after midnight when by cover of darkness on a cold snowy night he used Mayflower moving trucks to pack up the Colts offices, and relocate them in Indianapolis. By the time anyone realized what had happened it was too late to stop. The NFL feeling they could not win in court did not fight the move, as Maryland put up a futile fight before the Colts agreed to support Baltimore getting an expansion team. The city of Baltimore would fail in several attempts at landing a NFL franchise, and even entered the CFL, before landing a new NFL franchise named the Ravens in 1996 . However, the Irsay family would not relinquish the name Colts, as they once promised. Many Colt legends were angered by the move including legendary Quarterback Johnny Unitas who refused to acknowledge the franchise for the rest of his life.
The Indianapolis Years
1984: While Baltimore was angry over the Colts midnight move, fans in Indianapolis were there to great the arriving Mayflower trucks with cheers. The Colts would sell 143,000 season tickets in just the first two weeks of ticket sales. On September 2nd the Colts played their first game at the Hoosier Dome against the New York Jets. However, Colts fans would go home disappointed as the Jets won 23-14. Losing would be a habit for the Colts in their first season in Indianapolis, as Frank Kush was fired before the final game of the season as the Colts sat at 4-11. The Colts would lose their final game of the season with Hal Hunter performing the coaching duties to finish with a disappointing 4-12 record.
1985: Under new Coach Rod Dowhower, the Colts continued to struggle losing 11 of their first 14 games. However the Colts would end the season on a strong note winning their final two games to finish with a 5-11 record. The lone bright spot of the season was Linebacker Duane Bickett, who won the Defensive Rookie of the year after being the Colts first Round pick in the draft.
1986: The Colts season as over before it ever started as they lost their first 13 games of the season. Making matters worse was that only two of the losses were by less then a Touchdown. After their 13th loss Coach Rod Dowhower was fired and replaced by Ron Meyer. The move would work as the Colts won the last three games of the season under Meyer.
1987: The Colts get off to a 0-2 start before the players went on strike. During the replacement games the Colts scabs played well, winning two of their three games. When the regulars returned the Colts improved to 3-3 with a win over the New England Patriots. Prior to playing their next game the atmosphere surrounding the Colts changed dramatically, when they acquired star Running Back Eric Dickerson in a three team deal on Halloween. Playing without Dickerson the next day the Colts improved to 4-3 with a win in New York over the Jets. In just eight games with Colts Dickerson rushes for 1,011 yards as the Colts go 5-3 to win the Division with a 9-6 record. However, in the Divisional Round the Colts were defeated by the Browns 38-21 in Cleveland.
1988: The Colts stumble out of the gate losing five of their first six games. However, the Colts would rebound to win their next five games, including the first Monday Night Game at the Hoosier Dome on Halloween, in which Eric Dickerson show cased his talents in a 55-23 mauling of the Denver Broncos. The Colts would go on to finish with a 9-7 record, as Eric Dickerson won the rushing title with 1,659 yards rushing. However, the Colts would miss out on the playoffs by one game.
1989: Eric Dickerson has another stellar season rushing for 1,311 yards, while surpassing the 10,000-yard mark in his career. However, the Colts only play mediocre football, and sit at 8-7 needing to win the final game of the season to make the postseason. Unfortunately, the Colts were never even in the game losing 41-6 to the Saints in New Orleans.
1990: The Colts do some draft day wheeling and dealing trading Wide Receiver Andre Rison and draft picks to the Atlanta Falcons so they could move up and draft Indianapolis native Jeff George, with the number one overall pick. George would have a stellar rookie season passing for 2,152 yards while throwing 16 Touchdown passes. However, things were not as sunny for Running Back Eric Dickerson who held out of training camp, during a contract dispute. The Colts would end up suspending Dickerson four games for conduct detrimental to the team. He would return late in the season and rush for 677 yards, as the Colts finished with a 7-9 record.
1991: The Colts would get off to a miserable start losing their first five games before Coach Ron Meyer was fired and replaced by Rick Venturi. Under Venturi the Colts struggle would continue as they lost their first four under their new coach. The Colts would finally get their first win of the season on a cold and rainy afternoon in the Meadowlands, as the Beat the New York Jets by 28-27. That win would go on to be the Colts only win of the season finishing with an awful 1-15 record, as Eric Dickerson rushed for only 535 yards as the Colts scored an embarrassing 143 points on the season.
1992: To try and bring some glory back to the team the Colts hire Ted Marchibroda, who coached the team to three straight Division Titles in the late 70’s, while in Baltimore. The Colts had two first-round draft picks and chose Steve Entman and Quentin Coryatt. On the same day of the draft they traded away Running Back Eric Dickerson ending a sometimes stormy relationship, with their star Ru. Before the season even started the Colts were rocked by tragedy when Defensive End Shane Curry was shot to death outside a Cincinnati nightclub in a dispute over a car blocking the nightclub’s driveway. After the chaotic off-season the Colts got off on the right foot beating the Cleveland Browns in the season opener at the Hoosier Dome. However in a puzzling move cut Quarterback Mark Hermann who led the team in the win. With Jeff George back under center the Colts would win just three of their next ten games. However the team would end the season on a strong not winning their final five games narrowly missing the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
1993: The Colts struggled all year from the lack of a running game, and a passing game, going at one point 20 quarters without a touchdown. The defense was not much better, as the Colts went 4-12 amid dwindling crowds. They ended the year with a four game losing streak, and had eight losses in their last nine games.
1994: The Colts shake up their entire team trading Quarterback Jeff George to the Atlanta Falcons, and drafting Running Back Marshall Faulk in the first round of the NFL Draft. Faulk would have an impressive season first season winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year with 1,804 All-Purpose Yards. The Colts would play only mediocre football most of the season before winning three of their last four games to finish with an 8-8 record.
1995: After a 1-2 start Jim Harbaugh earns back the starting Quarterback jobs and leads the Colts on wild ride that would see them finish 9-7 and qualify for the playoffs. In Harbaugh’s first three games at Quarterback he led the Colts to comeback wins in each of his first three starts earning him the nickname “Captain Comeback”, and the team the “Cardiac Colts.” Many of the Colts wins were close hard fought games that the gutsy Colts just pulled out by the strength of their wills. In the playoffs they were going to need allot more then wills, playing in the Wild Card round without Running Back Marshall Faulk. However, the Colts did not skip a beat and stunned the Chargers in San Diego 35-20. A week later in Kansas City, the Colts were expected to go down again, but thanks to five missed Field Goalss from Chiefs Kicker Lynn Elliot, the Colts pulled out a 10-7 win to advance to the AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh. The Chiefs were underdogs again facing the Steelers with a trip to Super Bowl XXX on the line. The Colts would hang tough all game long but trailed 20-16, needing a miracle on the final play to win the game. From midfield Harbaugh would fire it up to the endzone and the ball bounced around in and out of the arms of Wide Receiver Aaron Bailey’s arms ending the Colts season.
1996: Following the Colts improbable playoff run, the team only offered Coach Ted Marchibroda a one year contract. The popular Marchibroda would turn it down and take the coaching job with the new Baltimore Ravens. The Colts would name Lindy Infante to replace him hoping he could get them back to the postseason. Under Infante the Colts got off to a fast start winning their first four games, including a 25-24 upset of the Cowboys in Dallas. However, the Colts would suffer a devastating string of injuries and would limp into the playoffs as the Sixth seed with a 9-7 record. However, this time there was no postseason magic as their season ended in Pittsburgh with a 42-14 loss in the first round to the Steelers.
1997: Prior to the season Owner Robert Irsay passed away, leaving his son Jim to run the franchise. After two straight postseason appearances the Colts came crashing down to reality losing their first ten games, in an injury plagued season. Indicative of the team’s frustrating year was a hand injury Quarterback Jim Harbaugh suffered during a confrontation with former Buffalo Bills Quarterback Jim Kelly, who was working as an analyst on NBC. The Colts would end up closing the season out with a 3-13 record, as Coach Lindy Infante was fired, and the front office was shaken up. The Colts would bring in Bill Polian to run the football operations, and Jim Mora to coach the team.
1998: Finishing with a 3-13 record enabled the Colts to draft Quarterback Peyton Manning with the first overall draft pick. The Colts would institute Manning as their starter right away, as he had an impressive rookie season passing for 3,739 yards. However, despite the stellar numbers from Manning the Colts struggled to their second straight 3-13 season.
1999: The Colts would make a change at Running Back trading Marshall Faulk to the St. Louis Rams, and drafting Edgerrin James in the first round. The Colts offense would click right away with James who earned the Offensive Rookie of the Year with 2,159 All-Purpose Yards, and 17 Touchdowns. In addition Peyton Manning racked up 4,135 passing yards as the Colts won the AFC East with an impressive 13-3 record. In the Divisional Playoffs the Colts hosted the Tennessee Titans in the first ever playoff game at the RCA Dome. However, the young Colts struggled in their first playoff game and were shutout in the second half on the way to a heartbreaking 19-16 loss.
2000: The Colts offense had impressive moments, sprinting through defenders with a no-huddle attack that left their opponents little time to catch their breath, as Peyton Manning passed for 4,413 yards, and Edgerrin James collected 2,303 All-Purpose Yards. However the Colts defense was erratic, performing well, at time but more often gave up yards at crucial moments. Eight games into the season the Colts were 6-2, though some of the wins had been heart-stoppers with last-minute heroics overcoming earlier mistakes. Then they lost four of the next five games, and suddenly even making it into playoffs was in doubt. With three games left in the season the Colts only chance was to win all three, which they did to finish with a 10-6 record. In the Wild Card round at Miami the Colts led the Dolphins by 14 in the 3rd Quarter. However, the Dolphins would comeback and force overtime where they stunned the Dolphins on a Lamar Smith Touchdown run to pull out a 23-17 win, keeping Coach Jim Mora winless in the playoffs.
2001: The Colts would get off to a 2-0 start, but problems quickly arose, as the Defensive struggles continued during a three game losing streak. The Colts losing streak would end with a win over the Chiefs in Kansas City. However, the win would prove costly as Edgerrin James suffered a season ending knee injury. Without James the Colts would win only three of their final nine games as team were able to score at will at the porous Colts defense, which ranked at the bottom in yards, and points allowed. Peyton Manning had another strong season passing for 4,131 yards. However he struggled with interceptions leading to harsh public criticism form Coach Jim Mora. The Colts would go on to finish with a disappointing 6-10 record. Following the season Mora would be fired after refusing to fire his defensive assistants. The Colts would go on to name defensive minded Tony Dungy as their new Head Coach, hoping with a stellar offense already intact he could make the Colts a complete team.
2002: The Tony Dungy era in Indianapolis would get off to a solid start as the Colts won three of their first four games. The Colts would then lose three straight games and stood at the halfway with a mediocre 4-4 record. However they would quickly rebound with a four game winning streak that included a dramatic primetime win in on the road in the snow against the Denver Broncos with Kicker Mike Vanderjagt hitting a 54-yard Field Goal with time winding down in regulation and a 51-yarders in overtime as the Colts beat the Broncos 23-20. The Colts would end up splitting their final four games to finish secpnd place in the newly created AFC South, with a solid record of 10-6, which was good enough for a Wild Card berth. Along the way Wide Receiver Marvin Harrison set a NFL single season record with 143 receptions for 1,722 yards. However, the Colts playoffs appearance would be short and forgettable as they were mauled on the road by the New York Jets 41-0.
2003: After their horrific thud in the playoffs the experts doubted the big game ability of Colts QB Peyton Manning. Despite playing shaky football in their first game the Colts began the season with a 9-6 road win over the Cleveland Browns, as they won their first four games. Week 5 would be an emotional home coming for Coach Tony Dungy as the Colts faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Monday Night Road Game. It was not going well for Dungy’s against his former team as the Colts trailed with 5 minutes left 35-14. However the Colts would not give up as Manning led three quick Touchdown drives to tie the game and force overtime where Mike Vanderjagt gave the Colts a dramatic 38-35 win over the defending Super Bowl Champions. A week later the Colts would stumble at home blowing a 4th Quarter lead in an overtime 23-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers. After winning four of their next five games the Colts found themselves in a match up of AFC elite against the New England Patriots at home. Trailing 17-0 early the Colts fought all game to tie the game at 31 early in the 4th Quarter. However the Pats answered back right away after being set up on a long kick off return. The Colts would cut the lead to 38-34, and had the ball first goal in the final minute. However, after four attempts the Colts could not get in as they dropped their third game of the season. After their heartbreaking loss to the Pats the Colts bounced back nicely beating the Tennessee Titans 29-27 to capture a stranglehold on first place in the AFC South. The Colts would go on to win two of their last three games to finish the season with a solid 12-4 record, as Peyton Manning with 4,267 yards passing was named NFL Co-MVP with Titans Quarterback Steve McNair. In the playoffs the Colts and Peyton Manning erased the perception they could not win a big game in convincing fashion as Manning passed for 377 yards and five Touchdowns in a dominating 41-10 win over the Denver Broncos which was the first home playoff win for the Colts since moving to Indianapolis. In the Divisional Round the Colts would hit the road facing the Kansas City Chiefs. Once again NFL MVP Peyton Manning was at the top of his game with 304 yards passing at three Touchdowns as the Colts out gunned the Chiefs 38-31 in a shootout in which for the second week in a row Punter Hunter Smith did not make a single punt. The win sent the Colts on to the AFC Championship game where they faced the New England Patriots. However the Colts magical run would come to an end on a cold snowy day in Foxboro as the Pats defense frustrated Manning all day intercepting the MVP four times on the way to a 24-14 win to advance to Super Bowl XXXVIII.
2004: The Colts began the season in the same place where their previous season ended, Foxboro with a Thursday Night kickoff against the New England Patriots. Once again the Pats would frustrate Manning as the Colts lost 27-24, as a game tying drive was short-circuited by a sack as Mike Vanderjagt’s attempt of a game tying Field Goal went wide. However, there would not be much frustration the rest of the way for Manning and the Colts as he embarked on a record season passing for 49 Touchdowns breaking Dan Marino’s 20-year old record as the Colts galloped to a second straight division title with a solid 12-4 record, as each week it seemed a different receiver would benefit from the dazzling play of Peyton Manning who would earn him second straight NFL MVP award. After ending the regular season a meaningless loss to the Denver Broncos in the final game of the regular season with Manning and the rest of the regular sitting, the Colts faced the Broncos in the playoffs and it was a different story as the Colts behind the arm of Manning jumped out to a 35-3 halftime lead on the way to beating the Broncos 49-24 as Manning had four Touchdown passes and 457 yards passing, to earn a rematch with the Patriots in Foxboro. As the Divisional Playoff in Foxboro began the snow began to fall and it was if a harbinger of things to come as the Colts never left the starting gate as the Pats playing with a banged up secondary frustrated Peyton Manning again, not allowing the Colts to reach the endzone in a dominating 20-3 victory.
2005: Coming off a historic 49-Touchdown season Peyton Manning was hard pressed to come any where close to matching those numbers, and he would not come close, as he managed 28, but the story was not Peyton and his reduced Touchdowns it was the Colts improved defense who were actually behind the Colts strong early start as were kept under 14 points in two of their first three games but managed to start 3-0 as their defense only allowed 16 total points. Of course the Colts offense was too good to be kept down long and soon they were explosive again as the team started rolling up the wins along the way Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison would be come the top QB-WR connection in NFL history as they broke the old record of 86 held by Steve Young and Jerry Rice. After starting 7-0 the Colts started November in their house of horrors in Foxboro against the New England Patriots for a Monday Night Showdown. The showdown would never materialize as the Colts exercised their demons in one swift statement game beating the two-time defending champions 40-21 as Manning passed for 321 yards with three Touchdown passes, as the 8-0 Colts became the talk of the league. After an easy win over the Houston Texans the Colts won a shootout with the Cincinnati Bengals to improve to 10-0 as Manning had another three Touchdown game with 365 yards passing. The Colts would improve to 11-0 win another marvelous Monday Night performance beating the Pittsburgh Steelers easily 26-7, as talk began about an undefeated season. The Colts would stay unbeaten for the next two weeks beating the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars to sit at 13-0 when they faced the San Diego Chargers on December 18th. Manning would pass for 336 yards but the running game was stuck in neutral as the Chargers got off to a 16-0 lead in the 3rd Quarter. However, the Colts would comeback in quick fashion taking a 17-16 lead as the 4th Quarter began. This time it would not last as the Chargers answered back in the final 15 minutes putting the game away on an 83-yard Touchdwon run by Michael Turner for a 26-17 win. A few days later the Colts would shaken personally as Coach Tony Dungy’s son committed suicide. With homefield locked up and Dungy away with his family an anticipated match up with the Seattle Seahawks turned into a preseason game as Manning only played a few plays to keep his games played streak alive as the Colts lost again 28-13. Dungy would return for the regular season finale but the Colts treated it like a preseason game again as they barely beat the Arizona Cardinals at home 17-13 to finish with an Indianapolis best 14-2 record. Being 13-0 was great for headline and getting players rested for the playoffs, but after a bye week in the first round of the playoffs it had been nearly a month since the Colts played a game to win with their regulars playing all the way. The rust would show as the Colts fell behind the Pittsburgh Steelers early 14-0 after the 1st Quarter. The Colts seemed stuck in neutral all game as they trailed 21-3 as the 4th Quarter began. However, Peyton Manning would start the comeback hooking up with Dallas Clark on a 50-yard TD pass. Then it was Edgerrin James with a TD and Manning to Reggie Wayne on a 2-point conversion to cut the deficit to 21-18. However, with time winding down the Colts got trapped deep in their own territory. With just 1 time out the Colts were force to go for it on 4th Down and long under two minutes left, as Manning was sacked on his own two yard line. Just as it seemed hopelessly bleak, the Colts got a miracle reprieve when Jerome Bettis fumbled; the fumble was picked up by Nick Harper who was playing with stitches in his leg after a domestic violence incident with his wife the night before. Perhaps slowed a little Harper who seemed to be in open field was tripped up by Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Manning would quickly get the Colts into Field Goal range as he took two cracks at the endzone. However, Mike Vanderjagt’s game tying Field Goal attempt from 46 yards sailed wide right, a few days later the Colts kicker made light off the miss on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” weather it was to make him the scapegoat of tired of Vaderjagt’s act, the Colts signed Adam Vinatieri who nailed two Super Bowl winning field goals with the New England Patriots, and is well known as a kicker who excels in pressure situations.
2006: Coming off their heartbreaking loss, the Colts came running out of the gates fast again, winning their first nine games, becoming the first team in NFL history to start 9-0 two years in a row. After losing their first game just before Thanksgiving on the road to the Dallas Cowboys 21-14, the Colts rebounded for a primetime win over the Philadelphia Eagles, which marked a coming out party for Rookie Running Back Joseph Addai, as he rushed for 171 yards, and scored four touchdowns. However, in the coming weeks it was the Colts defense that felt run over as they lost three of their next four games. First came a stunning 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans on 60-yard field goal by Rob Bironas. That was followed by a crushing 44-17 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars as the Colts allowed 375 yards rushing. Following a 34-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals the Colts defense was stunned by another last second field goal losing to the Houston Texans 27-24 on a Kris Brown 48-yard Field Goal. The Colts would end the season with a 27-22 win over the Miami Dolphins, but at 12-4 the Colts still won the division title but had no momentum coming in to the playoffs, as they did not earn a first round bye. In the playoffs the Colts faced the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card Round, and many were predicting doom for the Colts against the Chiefs strong running game. However, helped by the return of Bob Sanders who missed most of the season, the Colts held Larry Johnson to 32 yards as they won 23-8, overcoming three interceptions by Peyton Manning, including one late in the 2nd Quarter that gave the Chiefs the ball on the Colts 9-yard line, but the Colts defense held firm, as Lawrence Tynes missed a 23-yard field goal. The following week, the Colts returned to Baltimore for a second round match with the Ravens. Manning would struggle again, as he was intercepted twice, but the Colts defense rose to the occasion allowing just two field goals, while the Adam Vinatieri signing paid off, as he nailed five field goals including three that were over 40 yards in a 15-6 win that sent the Colts back to Indianapolis for the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots. For most of the first half in the AFC title game it looked as if the Patriots were going to hammer the Colts again, as they held a 21-3 lead following a 39-yard Interception return by Asante Samuel. Vinatieri would answer back with a filed goal as the Colts went into halftime down 21-6. In the 3rd Quarter the Colts came alive storming back to tie the game on two touchdowns, including a two point conversion. However, the Pats would quickly retake the lead as the score was 28-21 heading into the 4th Quarter. The Colts would tie the game again, in the fourth quarter only to see the Patriots retake the lead. After both sides traded field goals Colts needed to rally again trailing 34-31 with 3:49 left. However, three incomplete passes left the Colts defense which struggled all day needing a stop just to keep the Colts hope alive, which they did giving Peyton Manning one last try down by three with 2:17 left and one time out. Starting at their own 20 the Colts quickly got into Patriots territory on two big pass plays to Reggie Wayne, as a an added roughing the passer penalty gave the Colts the ball at the Patriots 11 yard line at the two minute warning. Using Joseph Addai up the middle the Colts sliced through tiring Pats defense, taking a 38-34 lead with 1:02 left. However, Pats uarterback Tom Brady should no quit quickly getting his team into Colts territory, before Marlin Jackson clinched the win with a interception at the Colts 35 yard line, sending the Colts to their first Super Bowl since moving to Indianapolis.
Super Bowl XLI: Facing the Chicago Bears in Miami the attention before the game was on the coaches as Tony Dungy faced protégé Lovie Smth, as the first two black coaches to appear in the Super Bowl. When the game began the Colts found themselves down before the smoke from the pre-game ceremonies settled, as the explosive Devin Hester returned the game’s opening kick 92-yards for a touchdown. The Colts would quickly answer back with a Touchdown of their own as Peyton Manning hit Reggie Wayne on a 53-yard Touchdown pass. However, the shaky Colts could not tie the game as the PAT was botched in the rain. After both teams traded fumbles the Bears struck again taking a 14-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. However, as the rain got heavier in Miami, the Colts settled in taking a 16-14 lead on a Touchdown by Dominick Rhodes following a 29-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri. As the rain continued to fall in the 3rd quarter Vinatieri added two more field goals to give the Colts a 22-14 lead, but the Bears continued to hang tough answering back with a field goal of their own. Finally in the fourth quarter the Colts ceased the game as Kelvin Hayden return an interception 56-yards down the sideline for a Touchdown to give the Colts a 29-14 lead. From their they relied on their defense to seal the victory for Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning who was named the game’s MVP with a steady 247 yards passing and one touchdown in bad playing conditions.
2007: Coming off their Super Bowl championship the Colts opened the season with a primetime banner raising at the RCA Dome, which preceded a raising of the roof as the Colts scored 31 unanswered points in the second half as they beat the New Orleans Saints 41-10. A week later it would be much tougher as the Colts held off a late charge from the Tennessee Titans to win 22-20, as the Colts once again got off to a 7-0 start despite losing Wide Receiver Marvin Harrison to a knee injury. At 7-0 the Colts hosted the 8-0 New England Patriots in a battle of unbeatens. As with the AFC Championship Game it was battle from the start, as the two teams that were regarded as the best two teams in the league put on a performance worthy of that label. However, this time it was the Colts that had a lead slip away as the Patriots scored 14 unanswered points in the final eight minutes to beat the Colts 24-20 on the way to completing an unbeaten regular season at 16-0. A week later in a primetime game against the San Diego Chargers the Colts clearly seemed to have a hangover from their tough loss to the Patriots as they fell behind early as Darren Sproles returned the opening kick off and a punt for a touchdown to give the Chargers a 23-0 lead. Peyton was also off his game as he was picked off six times, but the Colts defense kept them in the game with Gary Brackett recovering a fumble in the endzone to bring the Colts to within two points. The two point conversion attempt failed but the Colts continued to fight back, and had a chance to win the game as Adam Vinateri set up for a 29-yard game winning field goal. However, on a slippery rainy night it sailed wide right as the Chargers held on for a 23-21 win. Vinateri would atone for his missed field goal a week later by kicking the game winner from 24 yards out to beat the Kansas City Chiefs 13-10. That win, although not the sharpest game from the Colts got them back on track as they won six in row before losing a meaningless game at the end of the season to the Titans at home. Along the way the Colts had new heroes establishing themselves in the AFC South, as Bob Sanders who was always in the shadows of the offense and was named Defensive Player of the Year by backstopping a vastly improved Colts defense that continued their improvement from the run to the Super Bowl. While Marvin Harrison was limited to just five games it was Rookie Anthony Gonzalez the Colts first round draft pick that ended up fitting in the Colts system nicely with 576 yards receiving and three touchdowns, as the Colts posted a 13-3 record. With a first round bye the anticipation for a rematch with the Patriots was high league wide. However, it was another rematch that proved to be a bump in the road for the Colts as the faced the Chargers in the final game ever at the RCA Dome. The Colts would get off to a strong start as Peyton Manning hit Dallas Clark on a 25-yard Touchdown pass in the first quarter. However, the Chargers proved pesky despite losing LaDainian Tomlinson to a knee injury taking a 14-10 lead in the third quarter. The Colts would retake the lead as Manning hit Reggie Wayne, but on the quarter’s final play Philip Rivers hit Darren Sproles on a 56-yard touchdown catch and run to give the Chargers a 21-17 lead heading into the game’s final 15 minutes. On the play Chargers Quarterback Philip Rivers was knocked out of the game with a knee injury of his own, as the Colts retook the lead on a 55-yard Touchdown pass from Peyton Manning to Anthony Gonzalez. However, the Chargers continued to hang on taking the lead as back up Quarterback Bill Volek plunged into the endzone from one yard out. Unfortunately there would be no rally for the Colts as the Chargers went on to face the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game with a 28-24 win.
2008: Entering their 25th season in Indianapolis, the Colts had a new field to roam, as Lucas Oil Field, a retractable roof stadium opened. However, fans attending the first official game at the new stadium went home disappointed as the Colts were beaten by the Chicago Bears 29-13 in a Sunday Night showdown. A week later the Colts found themselves down 15-0 as they faced the Minnesota Vikings on the road. However, Peyton Manning who got off to a slow start thanks to minor knee surgery just before the season started. However, a week later they would suffer another set back as they were beaten by the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-21, who needed a 51-yard field goal by Josh Scobee in the final seconds. Following a bye week the Colts were in danger of losing again, as they trailed the Houston Texans 27-10 in the 4th Quarter. However, three touchdowns in the final 4:04 saved the day, as the Colts used a 68-yard fumble return from Gary Bracket who returned a fumble by Texans Quarterback Sage Rosenfels. The Colts, final earned their first win at Lucas Oil Field a week later, by beating up the Baltimore Ravens 31-3. However, their early struggles continued as they dropped their next two games road, including a 31-21 Monday Night loss to the Tennessee Titans that dropped them four games out of first place. At 3-4 the Colts faced a crossroad facing the New England Patriots at home, in a defensive struggled the Colts would get the win as Adam Vinatieri’s 52-yard field goal with 8:05 proved to be the difference in an 18-15 win. A week later the Colts would win their first game in Pittsburgh in 40 years beat the Steelers 24-20, as Peyton Manning led another comeback from a double digit deficit. Following another close win over the Texans at home, the Colts got some revenged against the San Diego Chargers as Adam Vinatieri nailed a 51-yard field goal as time expired to give the Colts a dramatic 23-20 win on the road. The win was the fourth in a row for the Colts, who finally seemed to hit their stride after a slow start. They would go on to win their final five games. However, despite their 12-4 record the Colts had to settle for the Wild Card. In the playoffs the Colts would face the Chargers again in San Diego. Despite a solid game from Peyton Manning, who passed for 310 yards, the Colts could not solve Chargers Running Back Darren Sproles, as the Chargers change of pace back led the way with 105 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown run in overtime that gave the Chargers a 23-17 win, eliminating the Colts for the second straight season. Following the season the Colts would say good bye to Wide Receiver Marvin Harrison, who was released, while Coach Tony Dungy retired to pursue other projects with the league, including starting a league wide mentoring program. Longtime Dungy assistant Jim Caldwell would take over as Dungy’s hand chosen successor.
2009: The 2009 Indianapolis Colts season was the 57th season for the team in the National Football League and the 26th in Indianapolis. It was the first season since 2002 that the Colts did not have Tony Dungy on their coaching staff, due to his retirement from coaching. The 2009 Indianapolis Colts improved upon their 12–4 record from 2008 as well as winning their sixth AFC South division championship in seven years. The Colts also clinched the #1 playoff seed in the AFC. The Colts became the sole undefeated team after week 15. The following week, the Colts lost to the New York Jets. During the playoffs, the Colts defeated the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round and the New York Jets in the AFC Championship game, but lost to the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV, 31–17.
Keith Molesworth 1953
Weeb Ewbank 1954-1962
Don Shula 1963-1969
Don McCafferty 1970-1972
John Sandusky 1972
Howard Schellenberger 1973-1974
Joe Thomas 1974
Ted Marchibroda 1975-1979
Mike McCormick 1980-1981
Frank Kush 1982-1984
Hal Hunter 1984
Rod Dowhower 1985-1986
Ron Meyer 1986-1991
Rick Venturi 1991
Ted Marchibroda 1992-1995
Lindy Infante 1996-1997
Jim Mora 1998-2001
Tony Dungy 2002-2008
Jim Caldwell 2009-Present
Hall of Famers:
Raymond Berry WR 1955-1967
Art Donovan OT 1953-1961
Weeb Ewbank Coach 1954-1962
Ted Hendricks LB 1969-1973
John Mackey TE 1963-1971
Gino Marchetti DE 1953-64, 1966
Lenny Moore RB 1956-1967
Jim Parker OT 1957-1967
Joe Perry FB 1961-1962
Don Shula Coach 1963-1969
Johnny Unitas QB 1956-1972
Eric Dickerson RB 1987-1991
19 Johnny Unitas QB 1956-1972
22 Buddy Young RB 1953-1955
24 Lenny Moore RB 1956-1967
70 Art Donovan OT 1953-1961
77 Jim Parker OT 1957-1967
82 Raymond Berry WR 1955-1967
89 Gino Marchetti DE 1953-64, 66