Earlier this year we ran a series of “Pre-Super Bowl” articles which discussed the mythical matchups of AFL vs. NFL champions from 1960-1965. In the midst of that run, guest blogger and author, Dave Steidel, volunteered to run simulations of some of those games, and then offered to expand his findings into a series of posts for Tales from the American Football League. The result of Dave’s efforts are an in-depth look at Pre-Super Bowl I, or as Dave calls is, Mythical Super Bowl I 1960. The week will begin with some background on the two teams, the Houston Oilers and Philadelphia Eagles, and transcend into play-by-play of the game and ultimately, the final statistics. So get ready to enjoy the game that should have been played some 53 years ago!
Houston down by 10 as we begin the final period.
The Eagles with the ball at mid-field. Van Brocklin hands off to Barnes on a dive play, he’s nailed by Trask at the 50 for no gain and there’s another FUMBLE! Don Floyd has it – HOUSTON BALL!! Wow, that is exactly what the Oilers needed at this point in the game. That was big!! An the Oilers have a big break as the 4th quarter gets under way.
1st and 10 – Can Houston take advantage of this opportunity with good field position? Blanda with the give to Smith, he sweeps right and it knocked out by Weber at the 47 for 3 yards. Billy Cannon checks back into the Oiler backfield.
2nd and 7 – Blanda drops back, here comes the rush, Blanda throws to Johnny Carson, he’s covered by Brookshier and can’t hang on. 3rd and 7 – Baughan is blitzing, Blanda sets up in the pocket, throws a safety valve to Carson Brookshier got a hand in there! Incomplete – 4th down.
Here’s Milstead’s kick, oh, he shanked it off the side of his foot – it’s out of bounds at the 37 for a punt of only 10 yards. Not only could Houston not capitalize on their fumble recovery but they give the ball back to Philadelphia in good field position as well. I think the Eagles got a hand in there but clearly something was wrong on that kick as it came off his foot. Houston continues to be plagued by errors this half.
Eagles ball – 1st and 10 at the 37 – Van Brocklin back to pass, he throws a short out. Complete to Dean at the 47, he’s got room to run and is knocked out of bounds at the 42 after a gain of 21 yards. The Dutch has the Eagles rolling again and the Houston defense is spending a lot of time on the field.
The ball is at the 42 – the Birds run left with Dean, he’s tackled by Dennit Morris at the 41. Dean gets a yard. 2nd and 9 – Van Brocklin with a short drop, he fires a short sideline pass, it’s low, McDonald dives but he can’t make the catch. It’ll be 3rd and 9 for the Eagles.
Van Brocklin sets to throw a quick curl to McDonald, it’s complete at the 34 for another Philadelphia first down at the Houston 31.
Van Brocklin staying with the pass, he throws a deep slant… complete to McDonald TOUCHDOWN! 31 yards.
Walston’s kick is good and the Eagles have opened up a 17 point lead – 27 -10
The Eagles have not wasted their opportunities this half and that has been the difference. 12 minutes and 30 seconds to play in this first NFL/AFL Championship game.
The Eagles kick off – it’s to Cannon from the 10, he can’t find a crease and is tackled by Jackson at the 28 for a return of 18. .
1st and 10 – Houston behind by 17. They give to Smith, he sweeps left, he’s looking to pass again! Here comes the rush, the left-handed fullback throws to Carson – INTERCEPTED by Riley Gunnells! He’s got it at the 40, knocked out of bounds after a 1 yard return. Houston is digging themselves a grave with another crucial turnover.
It’s 1st and 10 and Van Brocklin working very slowly, he hands to Barnes, sweep left, Barnes is looking to pass! He throws to Walston, bobbled and he can’t hold on. Strange call for the Eagles after Smith just threw an interception although Barnes did throw three passes during the season put without a completion.
2nd and 10 – Van Brocklin taking his time. Hands to Dean off tackle to the right, tackled by Johnston at the 37 for a gain of 2 3rd and 8 – Philadelphia now using the clock and taking their time, it’s Barnes on the draw tackled by Allen for no gain. It’s three and out for the Eagles and Van Brocklin will punt it away. He boots it high and Houston will let it roll dead at the 4. Van Brocklin has done a great job on this one as it only goes 33 yards but it pins Houston deep in their own end.
Houston has it on the 4. Blanda with a short drop, he fires a quick in, Carson catches it at the 11 and takes it to the 15. 11 yards and a 1st down. Blanda with a quick drop, he fires a short button hook, Hennigan stretches and makes the catch! tackled by Carr at the 23, it’s a gain of 8.
2nd and 2 from the 23- Houston in a hurry up offense. Blanda can’t handle the snap! He’s drilled by Baughan at the 21, FUMBLE – it’s recovered by Robb, HE’S GOING ALL THE WAY! They won’t catch him! Another Eagles touchdown on a Houston turnover.
The extra point is good and the Eagles on in command 34 – 10. Turnovers have turned this game around after the Oilers had taken a lead into the locker room at half-time they have handed Philadelphia the ball five times this quarter and any team that does that will not find themselves in a winning position. Three fumbles, an interception and a muffed snap on a punt this half has been the difference as the Eagles have converted those into 21 of their 28 second half points. So far this half it has been all Eagles.
8 minutes and 52 seconds remaining as Walston’s kick is heading towards the sideline and away from Hall, it’s not deep, taken at the 8 and tackled at the 21 for a 13 yard return.
It’s a now or never situation for Blanda and the Oilers down by 24 points and time running out. The Eagles’ Weber is blitzing as Blanda hands to Cannon, he’s to the 25 before he’s hit by Campbell on the stop and falls forward to the 27. He’s got a gain of 6.
2nd and 4 – the EAGLES are showing blitz, Blanda fades back to pass, in the flat to Smith that’s incomplete. It’ll be 3rd and 4.
Blanda drops back to pass, he fires, Campbell knocks it down at the line for another 3 and out for the Oilers. Milstead to punt, it’s got good hang time, Tim Brown calls for a fair catch and he makes the catch at the 25. A punt of 48 yards. 1st and 10 Eagles at the 25.
Van Brocklin slowing the pace. He gives to Barnes off tackle left and he’s met by George Shirkey. Stopped at the 24 for a 1 yard loss.
2nd and 11 – Pitts is blitzing, Van Brocklin gives to Dean off tackle and Floyd drills him at the 23. Another loss of 1. The Houston defense looks much more aggressive on this series.
3rd and 12 from the 23. Van Brocklin calling signals. Van Brocklin back to pass with lots of time – he flips to Retzlaff, complete at the 32 and he’s got a seam, he’s across the 40 and Johnston tackles him at the 47. A gain of 24 yards. That gives The Baron has 6 catches for 115 yards today.
1st and 10 now at the 47, the clock is a factor as Van Brocklin comes out of the huddle and taking his time – 4:19 to go as this game appears to be locked up by Philadelphia. Ted Dean on the dive play, tackled by Morris for no gain. The middle was clogged up by the Houston linebacker.
Philadelphia continues to move slowly to the line. VanBrocklin gives to Barnes on a quick trap he’s hit and tackled by Pitts at the 48 for 1 yard gain. It will be 3rd and 9. That was good anticipation by Houston as they were keying on number 33 for the Eagles.
Van Brocklin is throwing on 3rd and 9. He’s looking downfield for Retzlaff but it’s overthrown and incomplete. Johnston had him covered step-for-step. 4th down and Van Brocklin punt it away. It’s to Hall at the 18, looks to go left and Campbell hits him from the blind side after a return of 6. Hall catches it at the 18 looking for yardage Campbell pancakes him return of 6. Only a 34 yard punt by Dutch on that one. It will be 1st and 10 Houston from their own 24 yard line with a sense of emergency. Blanda sets up in the pocket crossing pass to Carson, he leaps and makes the catch! Tripped up by Brookshier but it’s enough for a first down. A gain of 11.
From the 35 Blanda sets up in the pocket, good coverage downfield, here comes the rush, Blanda dumps it to Carson but he can’t reach it, that’s incomplete 2nd and 10 – Blanda to pass, the Eagles are bringing a heavy rush, it’s a screen to Smith complete. He stepped out of bounds after a gain of 6. Houston has a 3rd and 4 from the 41. Smith the up back, Cannon sets up behind him. Blanda hands off to Smith, he pitches it back to Blanda, now he throws to Cannon but it’s broken up by Marion Campbell for an incomplete pass. Houston is taking out all the stops with trick passes but the Eagles have not been fooled so far.
The Oilers now face a 4th and 4 from the 41 and Rymkus is signally Blanda to go for it as we hit the 2 minute warning. Blanda drops deep in the pocket, he throws a long out to Groman…. it’s deflected by Freeman, incomplete. Freeman and Burroughs had the beat on Groman and just would not give an inch. The Eagles take over on downs at the 41. Van Brocklin gives to Dean
Here’s a counter give to Dean off right tackle, hit by Allen at the 41 for a loss of 1. The Eagles have not run the ball well all year and today is no different. But right now they are content to take time off the clock.
Less than a minute left in this one and the Eagles are well in command.
Another hand off to Barnes off left tackle and this time Pitts brings him down at the 40. A one yard gain and that’s it folks. The first NFL vs. AFL Championship game is in the books and the Philadelphia Eagles can call themselves pro-football champions of the world after they have defeated the Houston Oilers here in Pasadena by a score of 34 – 10 in a game that was as close as you could want in the first half but marred by too many Houston turnovers in the second half that gave the Eagles excellent field position time and again. Fumbles, a muffed snap, a shanked punt and an interception led to 24 unanswered points in the second half and very few, if any, teams will come away from a half like victoriously. The Eagles took advantage of nearly ever Houston miscue, including a return of one fumble for a touchdown, to take home the very first Halas/Hunt Trophy signifying supremacy of professional football.
Thanks for joining up folks. We hope you’ve enjoyed yourself and we look forward to coming into your homes again next January when the second NFL vs. AFL Championship game will be brought to you from the Orange Bowl in Miami. Until then we wish you happy and healthy New Year in 1961! So long for now.