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!
PHILADELPHIA – Place kicking – Bobby Walston – made 14 of his 20 attempts for 70% with his longest being 39 yards. He converted on 39 of his 40 PAT’s.
Norm Van Brocklin doubles as the team’s punter and averaged 43 yards on his 60 punts.
HOUSTON – Place kicking – George Blanda – made 15 of 34 field goal attempts for 44% with a long of 53 yards. He also converted on all but one of his 47 extra point attempts.
Punter Charlie Milstead punted 66 times for a 35 yard average.
Although Blanda made only 44% his ability to hit from longer distances give him the edge.
EDGE – PLACE KICKING – HOUSTON, Blanda can hit from longer distances
EDGE – PUNTING – PHILADELPHIA, Milstead is a below average punter
KICK RETURNS –
PHILADELPHIA – Ted Dean and Tim Brown, both rookies, handle kickoffs and punt returns. They average between 20 and 26 on kickoffs and only 4 yards on 26 punt returns.
HOUSTON – Billy Cannon and Ken Hall handle the returns. Both averaged over 30 yards on kickoffs and double figures on punts, although together they only returned 10 punts all year.
EDGE – HOUSTON, the Oilers scat backs could be the difference if they break one or two long run backs
Look for Philadelphia to come out passing with Van Brocklin hoping to jam his throws through Houston’s wheelhouse. They will probably only run less than 20 times against a strong Houston front wall, choosing instead to attack the Houston short coming, pass defense. If they are successful, it could be a long afternoon for the Oiler defense. Houston may be best served to opt for a 3-4 or 5 defensive backs defense give Van Brocklin a look he is not used to and take away another passing lane. Houston knows the Eagles won’t hurt them with a sustained running game so playing with more pass coverage could be the way to beat them.
Defending against the Houston offense will not be as easy. The Oilers can be content to run the ball as long as they can with Smith, Cannon and Tolar. They thrive on work but they rarely carried the ball more than 10 times per game each. So over working them may also be risky. Their balance on offense and the potential to break off long runs will challenge the Eagles to make constant adjustments on defense. How well the Philadelphia linebackers plug the running lanes will be vital to stopping the Houston runners and helping their pass defenders contain the Oilers passing offense.
PREDICTION: Baring the unpredicables like interceptions, fumbles, long kick returns, blocked kicks and penalties this prediction is based on a few fundamental comparisons. The Eagles are strong in passing, Houston weak against the pass. Philadelphia’s defense is strong against the pass while the Oiler offensive strength is the pass. Matching strength against strength vs. strength against weakness – pick the PHILADELPHIA EAGLES to win by 4
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Rose Bowl in sunny Pasadena, California. This is Curt Gowdy along with my partner Paul Christman for ABC sports, announcing a truly historical event in modern sports; the first professional football championship game that features the champions from both the National and American Football Leagues.
Two weeks ago, in dramatic style, Norm Van Brocklin and Chuck Bednarik led the Philadelphia Eagles past Vince Lomdardi’s Green Bay Packers for their first NFL championship since 1949 when Bednarik, playing both center and middle linebacker, tackled Jim Taylor on the 10 yard line while the clock ran out to preserve a 17-13 victory at Philadelphia’s Franklin Field. In the upstart AFL, at Houston’s Jepessen Stadium the Oilers held off a late surge by the Los Angeles Chargers 24-16, aided by an 88 yard pass and run touchdown in the 4th quarter my game MVP Billy Cannon.
So today, with a mild temperature of 66 degrees and relatively no wind, the Eagles and Oilers meet to determine the true pro football champion for the 1960 season.
The Eagles have won the coin toss and have elected to receive. They will be wearing their home Kelly green jerseys with white numbers, green helmets and silver eagle wings. The Oilers are wearing their away white jerseys with Columbia blue numbers, blue helmets with oil derricks on each side.
George Blanda will be kicking off for the visitors. Deep for Philadelphia are #22 Tim Brown and #35 rookie Ted Dean, the running hero of the NFL championship game.
Aaaand the kick is on its way, taken by Brown six yards deep… he’ll down it.
1st and ten for the Eagles from their own 20 yard line. Van Brocklin under center, Eagles backs are in the I – handoff to Dean up the middle, he’s brought down by Orville Trask at the 21, for a 1 yard gain.
2nd and nine – Walston split left, McDonald right for Philadelphia – Van Brocklin to pass – looking over the middle for Pete Retzlaff, he’s got it at the 29 and brought down at the 32 by Jim Norton and Eagles have the first, 1st down of the game. Gain of 11.
1st and ten now from the 32 – Van Brocklin to pass again, complete to Retzlaff on a crossing route at the Houston 44 and brought down by Mark Johnston after a 24 yard gain and another 1st down.
Ball on the 44, pitch to Billy Barnes around the right side, tackled by corner back Charlie Kendall at the 40 – for a gain of 4. 2nd and six.
Van Brocklin back to pass, looking for his tight end crossing, he’s double teamed – hit by Johnston, the ball is out, let’s see what they call it…… incomplete.
3rd and six from the Houston 44 – Van Brockling with a short drop, throws to Retzlaff on a short slant, he has it at the 34 – hit, he’s still on his feet and is finally drug down by Johnston at the 16 – wait, the ball is loose, let’s see – HOUSTON BALL! – recovered by Julian Spence – HOLD ON – they are ruling that Retzlaff was down – or did they even see the ball come loose? – At any rate, Philadelphia maintains possession and have another 1st down. What a break for the Eagles!
Eagles line up – Van Brocklin to throw – looking for Bobby Walson at the 10 – knocked down by Kendall – incomplete
2nd and 10 from the 16 – Dean on a sweep to the left side, he’s at the 15 and pushed out by Dennit Morris at the 14 – gain of 2, it will be 3rd and 8. Tommy McDonald was shaken up on the play, Jerry
VanBrocklin with a quick drop he fires a short cross incomplete intended for Retzlaff covered by Johnston
4th down – the Eagles will attempt a 21 yard field goal with Bobby Walston this will give them the lead — the kick is up, it’s good. And with 11:16 left in the first quarter the Philadelphia Eagles have taken the opening kickoff on a 64 yard drive before settling for 16 yard field goal and a 3 to nothing lead.
The Eagles are set to kick off – Billy Cannon and Ken Hall are deep for Houston – Walston hits it – and it’s Cannon at the 8 – can’t find an opening and is hit and brought down after a 12 yard return, tackled by Jimmy Carr at the 20, where it will be Houston’s ball – 1st and
George Blanda brings the Oilers to the line – he fades back to pass and is under pressure, looking, and throws to his tight end Johnny Carson who is hit by safety Tom Brookshier, the ball is knocked loose no catch
2nd and 10 from the 20 – Blanda fades back to pass, Eagles have him boxed in, flips to Dave Smith, but that’s incomplete
3rd down – Blanda drops back good coverage downfield, the Eagles are coming at him again, he throws to Charlie Hennigan, bad pass intercepted by Chuck Weber! he’s got it at the 32 with room to run finally tackled at the Houston 8 yard line, a return of 24 yards and the Eagles have the first turnover of the game.
1st and goal from the 8 – VanBrocklin calls the signals, he’s back to pass – short out to Retzlaff, Johnston dives but he can’t come up with it – incomplete
2nd and goal – Eagles to the line, VanBrocklin pitches to Barnes, he crosses the 5 and tackled at the 4 for a gain of 4
3rd and goal from the 4 – Ted Dean sweeps left, tripped up by George Shirkey at the 3 – 1 yard gain – it will be 4th down and the Oilers defense has come up big inside the 10.
The Eagle will attempt a 10 yard field. Jurgensen to hold, Walston’s kick is up – and good – for his second field goal to give Philadelphia a 6 point lead with 9 minutes and 11 second left in the first period.
Walston to kick off – it goes to Kenny Hall at the 8 at the 20, 25, 30 and brought down by Brookshier at the 34, a return of 26 yards. 1st and ten Houston from the 34.
A give to Smith on a trap to the left side of the line, hit by Jess Richardson at the 35, one yard on the play to set up a 2nd and nine.
Blanda fades back, looking left, now throws a screen to the right, tipped by linebacker Maxie Baughan, incomplete, intended for Smith
3rd and 9 from the 35 – Blanda to throw again, back to pass he fires a medium hitch, Carson stretches he caught it! He’s whipped down by Brookshier at the 46 first down – a gain of 11 yards.
1st and 10 – Blanda pitches right to Cannon, Weber with the tackle at the 49, 3 yards
2nd and 7 from the 49 – Blanda pitches left to Smith, he’s trying to get the corner, he’s tackled by Carr at the 46 for a gain of 5
Houston has a 3rd and 2 from the 46 – Blanda sets to throw, big rush, he’s blindsided by Riley Gunnells for a 5 yard loss and will bring up a 4th and 7.
Charlie Milstead to punt the snap from Belotti they’re coming after it, Milstead will have to hurry, he got the kick off but it appears that the Eagles got a hand on it! It rolls out of bounds at the 37 yard line. A punt of only 14 yards and excellent field position once again for VanBrocklin and the Eagles.
1st and 10 from the 37 – VanBrocklin under center, he gives to Barnes off tackle left and is taken down by Dukes at the 39 for a 2 yard gain
2nd and 8 from the 39 – it’s Barnes on a dive play, dropped by Allen at the 41, for 2 yards
3rd and 6 from the 41 – VanBrocklin sets to throw, short hitch to Walston complete at the 49, he won’t go much farther, taken down by Spence. The Eagles have a first down after an a gain of 8
1st and 10 from the 49 – VanBrocklin pitches right to Dean, not much room to run, tackled by Allen, what a play by Allen – Loss of 2!
2nd and 12 – VanBrocklin back to pass, good coverage downfield, under pressure, heavy rush, he throws long down field to Dean covered by Dukes,that’s incomplete. 2:08 left in the 1st quarter.
3rd and 12 – from the I, VanBrocklin back to pass, throws downfield to Reichow, he leaps, great catch! tackled by Kendall at the 38.
First down after a gain of 15 yards.
Barnes with the hand off into the line. He crosses the 35 brought down by Norton at the 30 – gain of 8
2nd and 2 from the 30 – VanBrocklin with a quick drop, throws short to Retzlaff on a hitch – he threw it away – incomplete. There’s a FLAG ON THE PLAY – it’s against PHILADELPHIA – Ineligible receiver downfield – 5 YARD PENALTY –
2ND DOWN AND 7.
The Eagles run off tackle left with Barnes, tackled by Morris at the 33 for a gain of 2.
And will bring first period to a close with the score – Philadelphia 6 – Houston nothing. We’ll be right back.