Super Bowl V (partially lost NBC coverage of gridiron football game; 1971)
Super Bowl V culminated the 1970 National Football League (NFL) season. Occurring on 17th January 1971 in front of 79,204 at the Miami Orange Bowl, the encounter saw American Football Conference (AFC) champions the Baltimore Colts claim their first Super Bowl win and third major championship by defeating National Football Conference (NFC) champions the Dallas Cowboys 16-13. In a game described as the "Blunder Bowl" for numerous key errors made during play, Super Bowl V was fully televised live by NBC. But whereas the first three-quarters of the NBC broadcast are widely publicly available, most footage from the fourth quarter is lost.
The 1970 NFL season is considered the beginning of the NFL's modern era. Since 1966, the NFL had agreed a merger with the American Football League (AFL). The transition period was sluggish, consequently meaning both leagues operated as normal. However, it also inspired the creation of a championship game between both leagues' champions at the end of the season, in what is more commonly known as the Super Bowl. By 1970, the merger was complete, with all teams competing in one league that was split into two new conferences.
The National Football Conference (NFC) consisted of 13 teams loyal to the NFL, including the Dallas Cowboys. After topping the Eastern Division, the Cowboys went on to beat Central wildcards the Detroit Lions 5-0 in the divisional playoff semi-finals, before overcoming the San Francisco 49ers 17-10 to claim the first NFC title. Meanwhile, the American Football Conference (AFC) saw ten previously AFL teams compete, alongside three NFL sides to ensure balanced conferences. Among the three teams were the Baltimore Colts, who proceeded to top the Eastern Division. In the playoffs, the Colts outclassed the Cincinnati Bengals 17-0 and then outmatched the Oakland Raiders 27-10 to become the inaugural AFC champions. Thus, a Colts-Cowboys clash would commence at Super Bowl V at the Miami Orange Bowl on 17th January 1971. Previously, the Colts had won two NFL Championships, but were looking to redeem their Super Bowl III loss to the New York Jets. In contrast, the Cowboys had never won an NFL Championship or Super Bowl.
Thus, both sides were aiming to enhance otherwise dubious reputations. The Colts' loss to the Jets at Super Bowl III was generally regarded as a disaster, though safety Rick Volk recalled that his team, having reached two Super Bowls in quick succession, were able to calm themselves and regain focus to ensure redemption. The Cowboys did not have this luxury, though the ambition to finally win a major championship and avoid the disparaging label of "Next Year's Champions" remained strong throughout the side. Analysts deemed that the Colts and Cowboys were strongest defensive-wise, with Baltimore's quarterback being Johnny Unitas, and Dallas' head coach Tom Landry opting to place Craig Morton in the position at Roger Staubach's expense as he felt Morton would be more willing to conform to his game plan. Despite the Cowboys boasting the "Doomsday Defense", the Colts were declared the slight favourites heading into the game.
Meanwhile, NBC Sports were on-hand to provide full live television and radio coverage of the game. When the AFL-NFL merger and the creation of the Super Bowl were announced in 1966, a $9.5 million deal was forged with both NBC and CBS for the first four Super Bowls, with the network broadcasts alternating each year following their joint coverage of Super Bowl I. In 1970, a similar $10 million agreement was forged, granting NBC exclusive coverage of Super Bowl V. Announcing duties were given to play-by-play announcer Curt Gowdy and colour commentator Kyle Rote, with Bill Enis becoming the sideline reporter. The broadcast drew a 39.9 rating or approximately 46.04 million viewers. At the time, it was the most viewed one-off sporting event, and could have been even higher were it not for an NFL-imposed blackout for Miami's WCKT, despite a court appeal against it.
Super Bowl V occurred in front of 79,204 in attendance at the Miami Orange Bowl. Despite the immense talent of both teams, the game is regarded as among the weakest in Super Bowl history. In the first quarter, both teams proved their defensive might, resulting in most play consisting of trading punts. After the Cowboys conceded a 15-yard holding penalty, Walt Garrison successfully gained 11 yards, forcing Dallas' Ron Widby to punt into the path of Colts' punt returner Ron Gardin. However, Gardin fumbled it, allowing Cliff Harris to safely recover the ball from the 9-yard mark. Gardin's misery was compounded, when, following a failed touchdown attempt, the Cowboys' Mike Clark converted a 14-yard field goal to put his side 3-0 ahead.
For the second quarter, Morton was tackled to the crowd by Billy Ray Smith, but managed to throw the ball onto the 7-yard to concede an intentional grounding penalty. Despite this, the Cowboys would score again courtesy of a 30-yard field goal from Clark, doubling the team's score. However, the Colts swiftly fought back; a pass intended for Eddie Hinton went too high for him, causing him to tip it over. The ball was then deflected by Ray Renfro, and was eventually caught by John Mackey who proceeded to complete an unchallenged 75-yard touchdown. Despite Charlie Waters' protest of an illegal catch, the touchdown was declared valid, levelling the game. Jim O'Brien's extra-point attempt was then blocked by Mark Washington. The Cowboys' offensive might remained unaffected, however, and during a play, forced Unitas to fumble. Soon afterwards, Dan Reeves ran to the 7-yard, before Morton made a quick screen to Duane Thomas that swiftly led to a touchdown. Clark then successfully converted the extra-point to put the Cowboys 13-6 ahead. The Colts soon suffered a blow when a rough tackle from George Andrie resulted in Unitas suffering a torn rib cartilage, taking him out of the game.
The third quarter saw zero points being scored. Despite this, one play ranked among the more infamous in Super Bowl history. Thomas and Garrison worked together to reach the 2-yard. Just when it appeared Thomas was to score a touchdown, a hit by Jerry Logan caused a fumble. Consequently, players from both teams desperately attempted to retrieve the ball, causing it to disappear from view. The Colts' Billy Ray Smith yelled for a Colts ball, but it appeared the Cowboys had gained the upper hand when the ball was now in Dave Manders hands. However, Line judge Jack Fette saw things differently, declaring Baltimore's Jim Duncan successfully recovered the ball, providing a lifeline for the Colts. Both Duncan and Ray Smith claimed they had achieved the recovery, but the latter later admitted he fabrication his claim and had never handled the ball. Manders and Morton insisted the former recovered it, and believed Fette's vision was obscured during the incident by back judge Hugh Gamber. Meanwhile, Thomas was visibility upset by the ordeal, and the incident was the reason he refused press obligations post-game.
Nevertheless, the Cowboys maintained a 13-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Hinton very nearly fired back for the Colts when he obtained the ball at the 22-yard, running to the 11-yard before being tackled by Cornell Green. This caused the ball to bounce onto the end zone, triggering another dash for possession. Ultimately, the ball was redirected out of the endzone, resulting in a touchback. While slightly demoralised by this, the Colts soon got the touchdown they required when a Cowboys play was intercepted by Rick Volk was ran all the way to the 3-yard before being tackled by Reggie Rucker. The Colts' Tom Nowatzke then gained a yard on 1st down, before proceeding to make a sudden charge to the end zone to make it 13-12. O'Brien's subsequent extra-point levelled the game. Just when it appeared overtime was inevitable, the Colts ended up with a possible field goal opportunity with a minute left. After both sides called timeout, O'Brien was in the right place to successfully fire a 32-yard field goal, narrowly dodging Washington's block attempt with nine seconds remaining. An interception by Logan prevented a late Cowboys play to ensure the Colts won 16-13.
In what was the Baltimore Colts' first Super Bowl win and third major title, Super Bowl V faced criticism for numerous errors from both the teams and the officials. For instance, Sports Illustrated noted that the Colts faced seven turnovers and Dallas four, and claimed that only a few plays were actually properly executed. It therefore labelled the game as the "Blunder Bowl". Similarly, Dick Young, a sportswriter, stated that "I'm not sure if I just saw the greatest football game or the worst." The officials were also criticised for questionable decisions, with NFL's New York office flooded with over 500 complaints regarding their calls, with growing demand for instant replays during reviews. Nevertheless, most sources placed the blame on the Cowboys for their defeat. The team would quickly bounce back, however, by winning Super Bowl VI.
Early Super Bowl broadcasts were generally not selected for preservation by the television networks. Similarly with early World Series broadcasts, the recordings were stored on expensive 2-inch quad videotapes. Considering their expense, NBC and CBS often reused them for cost saving purposes. Neither foresaw the impending market for whole match broadcasts, instead assuming fans would be content with shorter films and newsreels, including those produced by NFL Films. The Super Bowl V broadcast was no exception, and was subsequently wiped by NBC.
Nevertheless, by harnessing other sources such as from Canadian television stations, the majority of footage from Super Bowl V has since been recovered and is publicly available. However, the fourth quarter telecast video remains mostly missing with the exception of the first play, although the entire audio track has been preserved. Alongside most television coverage of Super Bowl II, it remains among the most coveted lost Super Bowl media. On 28th September 2018, Sports Revisited uploaded the surviving telecast footage, while also reconstructing the fourth quarter by harnessing clips from other sources such as NFL Films. It currently remains as the most comprehensive recreation of the full television broadcast. The full NBC radio broadcast can also be listened to on YouTube.
- 1934 Philo T. Farnsworth broadcasts (lost early television demonstrations; 1934)
- 1938 Pennsylvania Quakers football season (lost early televised college football games; 1938)
- Brooklyn Dodgers 23-14 Philadelphia Eagles (lost footage of NFL game; 1939)
- Fordham Rams 34-7 Waynesburg Yellow Jackets (lost footage of college football game; 1939)
- New England Patriots Spygate scandal (partially found tapes and documents of football coaching signals; 2000-2007)
- NFL Blitz (lost arcade prototype; 1997)
- Super Bowl II (partially found live television footage of gridiron football game; 1968)
- World Football League (partially found radio and television coverage of football games; 1974-1975)
- Golden Football Magazine providing a comprehensive report on the game's build-up. Retrieved 22nd Apr '23
- Lines summarising the game and how the NBC broadcast is partially missing. Retrieved 22nd Apr '23
- History summarising the NFL-AFL merger. Retrieved 22nd Apr '23
- Pro Football Reference detailing the 1970 NFL season standings and playoff results. Retrieved 22nd Apr '23
- Pro Football Reference detailing the Colts' history since 1953. Retrieved 22nd Apr '23
- Colts recalling the game and the motivation to win it. Retrieved 22nd Apr '23
- Pro Football Reference detailing the Cowboys' history since 1960. Retrieved 22nd Apr '23
- Houston Chronicle noting the Cowboys' "Next Year's Champions" nickname and them winning Super Bowl VI. Retrieved 22nd Apr '23
- Archived Linemakers noting the Colts were declared the slight favourites to win. Retrieved 22nd Apr '23
- The Year That Changed the Game summarising the first CBS-NBC deal over Super Bowl. Retrieved 22nd Apr '23
- The New York Times reporting on NBC gaining exclusive access to Super Bowl V. Retrieved 22nd Apr '23
- Archived TV by the Numbers summarising Super Bowl television ratings. Retrieved 22nd Apr '23
- Pro Football Reference detailing the Super Bowl V result, play-by-play, and statistics. Retrieved 22nd Apr '23
- Sports Illustrated reporting on the game and declaring it the "Blunder Bowl". Retrieved 22nd Apr '23
- Golden Football Magazine providing a comprehensive report into the first and second quarters. Retrieved 22nd Apr '23
- Golden Football Magazine providing a comprehensive report into the third and fourth quarters. Retrieved 22nd Apr '23
- Archived Market Watch noting how most early World Series and Super Bowl broadcasts, including V, were generally discarded by the networks. Retrieved 22nd Apr '23
- Lines noting how Canadian television station coverage has helped preserve footage, including for Super Bowl IV. Retrieved 22nd Apr '23