Regular Season Final Statistics

Of particular interest is the Colts' dominance in special teams play, a sure sign of a "class" team. The Colts scored two touchdowns on combined kick returns and yielded none, while the Jets scored none and gave up three. It's also interesting to note that the Jets yielded seventeen passing touchdowns -- almost twice as many as the Colts. The difference between the Colts' near-record 144 points given up and the Jets 280 is glaring, and requires no further comment.

However, assuming a mere 10 percent overall AFL inferiority, the Jets 280 yielded becomes 308 in the NFL, while their offense might have tallied only 377, a point-scoring differential of just +69 over fourteen games, probably good for only a 9-5 record. Compare this with the Colts' +258. If the '68 Jets had been an NFL team, it's very likely their record would have been 9-5, at best. (In fact, after a 10 percent accross-the-board adjustment, the AFL Jets bear a statistically uncanny resemblance to the NFL St. Louis Cardinals -- a 9-4-1 team that the Colts whipped 21-0 during the regular season.)

Based on both teams' seasons and their performances in their championship victories, the "NFL" Jets would have unquestionably entered the game against Baltimore as a 10 to 14 point underdog. Considering the overall inferiority of the AFL, however, the oddsmakers pegged the Jets as 18-point dogs by game time. As we shall see, this was not inappropriate.

Unfortunately, being the overwhelming favorite is not necessarily a good thing. A player on such a team can become either a) overconfident or b) scared to death. Based on the well-documented incidents which were reported during the teams' two-week hiatus -- that media sideshow in Miami -- it would appear that both of these took hold, at least for some members of the Baltimore team. For when it is not enough to merely win, when instead a player knows he must win big -- or else be branded a loser anyway -- then he's playing under considerable pressure. While the hopeless underdogs have absolutely nothing to lose, the favorites have to "blow them out" or face ridicule despite victory. And if events conspire against a team early, then frustration, self-doubt, fear, panic, and hopelessness can rush in like water pouring through a broken dam. This is precisely what transpired in Super Bowl III.

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Text copyright 1997, 2002 by the author. All rights reserved.