Super Bowl III: New York Jets 16 Baltimore Colts 7
Super Bowl III: New York Jets 16 Baltimore Colts 7

Jets Upset Colts in Super Bowl III Behind Super Bowl MVP Joe Namath who guaranteed the upset victory

New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath "guaranteed" victory on the Thursday before Super Bowl III, then went out and led the AFL to its first Super Bowl victory over a Baltimore Colts team that had lost only once in 16 games all season.

QB Joe Namath, chosen the outstanding player, completed 17 of 28 passes for 206 yards and directed a steady attack that dominated the NFL champions. The New York Jets had 337 total yards, including 121 rushing yards by Matt Snell. The New York Jets defense did its part by forcing 5 turnovers. The Jets' defense had intercepted Colts quarterback Earl Morrall three times in the first half.

The Colts could not generate any points with quarterback Earl Morrall. By the time Shula brought sore-armed Johnny Unitas off the bench in the third quarter, the Colts trailed 13-0. Unitas, who had missed most of the season with a sore elbow, led the Baltimore Colts to their only touchdown late in the fourth quarter after the New York Jets led 16-0. The Jets were in such complete command, Namath did not have to throw a single pass in the fourth quarter. The Jets simply ran out the clock.

The Jets, AFL champions with an 11-3 regular-season record, were 19-point underdogs to Baltimore. The Colts, coached by Don Shula, dominated the NFL with a 13-1 regular-season record and had defeated the Cleveland Browns 34-0 in the NFL title game. The Colts had the top-ranked defense in the NFL and were considered one of the greatest NFL teams of all-time.

At that time, most people felt the NFL was vastly superior to the AFL. Easy victories over the Chiefs and Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II by the vaunted Green Bay Packers only reinforced that belief. The NFL, with roots tracing back to 1920, was seen as the one true professional league. The AFL, born in 1960, was regarded as upstart newcomers.

The brash Namath was honored by the Miami Touchdown Club as its Player of the Year on the Thursday night before Super Bowl Sunday. As he stepped to the microphone, a voice in the crowd -- belonging to a Colts' fan began heckling him and predicting a lopsided Baltimore victory.

Namath replied "Whoa, wait a minute. You guys have been talking for two weeks now [meaning the Colts' fans and the media] and I'm tired of hearing it. I've got news for you. We're gonna win the game. I guarantee it."

Namath's supporters happily applauded his bravado. One thing was certain: come Super Bowl Sunday, they all would be watching. When Namath returned to the hotel, he called cornerback Johnny Sample, the Jets' defensive captain, in his room.

"Joe told me, 'I said something tonight that's gonna be all over the news tomorrow,'" said Sample. "I asked him: 'What the heck did you say?' He told me he guaranteed we'd win the game. I said, 'Man, you didn't say that.' He said yeah, he did."

Jets coach Weeb Ewbank knew nothing of Namath's comments until the next day when he awoke to find the "guarantee" plastered across the front page of the morning paper. Having instructed his players to generously praise the Colts and, if possible, make them even more overconfident, Ewbank was furious. Namath's outburst, he feared, jeopardized everything.

Super Bowl III: New York Jets 16 Baltimore Colts 7
Super Bowl III Logo

Super Bowl III MVP: Joe Namath, QB, New York Jets

Super Bowl III MVP: Joe Namath, QB, New York Jets
Super Bowl III MVP: Joe Namath, QB, New York Jets

Playing before a capacity crowd at the Orange Bowl, with millions more watching on television, Joe Namath (completing 17 of 28 passes for 206 yards) coolly picked apart the potent Colts. With his quick release, Namath beat the Colts' blitz with quick passes to split end George Sauer (eight receptions, 133 yards). The brash 25-year-old quarterback proved to be every bit as good as advertised -- and much better than the Colts bargained for.

Namath directed the Jets' offense with patience and precision. He mixed his passes with the powerful runs of fullback Matt Snell (30 rushes, 121 yards) as the AFL upstarts took control of the game.

Jets Quarterback Joe Namath might have won the Most Valuable Player award without even throwing a pass. His "guarantee" of victory -- and his determined leadership to back up his boast -- cemented the reputation of the AFL and excited football fans around the country as the upstart Jets defeated the Baltimore Colts of the NFL 16-7 in one of the biggest upsets in sports history.

Namath's famous run off the field after the game, his index finger waving to let the world know who was "No. 1," is one of the enduring images of the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl III Scoring

Teams Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Source: NFL
New York Jets (AFL)076316
Baltimore Colts (NFL)00077


2nd Quarter

Jets: Snell 4 Yard TD Run (J. Turner PAT), 5:57

3rd Quarter

Jets: J. Turner 32-Yard Field Goal, 4:52

Jets: FG J. Turner 30-Yard Field Goal, 11:02

4th Quarter

Jets: J. Turner 9-Yard Field Goal, 1:34

Colts: Hill 1-Yard TD Run (Michaels PAT), 11:41

Super Bowl III Team Statistics

Team Statistics Jets Colts
Source: NFL
Total First Downs2118
Rushing First Downs107
Passing First Downs109
Penalty First Downs12
Total Net Yardage337324
Total Offensive Plays7464
Avg. Gain Per Offensive Play4.65.1
Yards Gained Rushing (Net)142143
Avg. Yards per Rush3.36.2
Passes Attempted2941
Passes Completed1717
Had Intercepted04
Tackled Attempting to Pass20
Yards Lost Attempting to Pass110
Yards Gained Passing (Net)195181
Avg. Distance38.844.3
Punt Returns14
Punt Return Yardage034
Kickoff Returns14
Kickoff Return Yardage25105
Interception Return Yardage90
Own Fumbles Recovered00
Opponent Fumbles Recovered11
Yards Penalized2823
Field Goals30
Field Goals Attempted52
Third-Down Efficiency8 / 184 / 12
Fourth-Down Efficiency0 / 01 / 2
Time of Possession36:1023:50

Super Bowl III: Jets Player Stats

Source: NFL
PassingComp / AttYardsTDINT
Punt Returns#/FCYardsLongTD
Kickoff Returns#YardsLongTD


Super Bowl III: Colts Player Stats

Source: NFL
PassingComp / AttYardsTDINT
Punt Returns#/FCYardsLongTD
Kickoff Returns#YardsLongTD

January 12, 1969

Orange Bowl (Miami, FL)

Attendance: 75,389

Super Bowl III Jets & Colts Highlights

Super Bowl III: Ticket & Championship Ring

Super Bowl III Championship Ring and Game Ticket Super Bowl III: New York Jets 16 Baltimore Colts 7 | MVP Joe Namath, QB, New York Jets

NFL Football: "Super Bowl III | New York Jets 16 Baltimore Colts 7 | Jets QB Joe Namath MVP"