History of the Indianapolis Colts

History of the Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts are a professional football team based in Indianapolis, Indiana. They are 2006 champions of the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football League (NFL).

The team began play in 1953 as the Baltimore Colts. A previous Baltimore Colts team played between 1947 and 1950. The original Colts team began play in 1946 as the Miami Seahawks, a member of the upstart All-America Football Conference. They relocated to Baltimore as the Colts in 1947, and joined the NFL in 1950 after the AAFC merged into the older league. However, the franchise folded after one NFL season. After fans in Baltimore protested, the NFL formed another Colts team out of the ashes of the failed Dallas Texans for the 1953 season. While in Baltimore, the club won four NFL Championships, including Super Bowl V.

Franchise history

The AAFC Baltimore Colts

There have been two NFL teams called the Baltimore Colts. The first Colts team started in the All-America Football Conference in 1946 as the Miami Seahawks. They moved to Baltimore in 1947. In 1950, they joined the National Football League and finished the season with a record of 1-11. They folded after the 1950 season; however, supporting groups such as a fan club and the NFL's second marching band remained in operation and worked for the team's revival.

The NFL Baltimore Colts

The Colts have one of the most sordid histories in all of professional football. The Colts franchise was officially created in 1953, but can trace its history much earlier than that, to before the NFL actually began: its earliest predecessor was the Dayton Triangles, a founding member of the NFL that was originally created in 1913. That team went through the following changes:

*Franchise relocated and renamed Brooklyn Dodgers in 1930.
*Changed name to Brooklyn Tigers in 1944. In the same year, the Boston Yanks are founded.
*Merged with Boston Yanks in 1945 as the wartime "The Yanks."
*Franchise canceled in 1945 by league and the team's temporary merger with the Boston Yanks is made permanent, as a parallel team (AAFC New York Yankees) is founded by the Tigers' former owner.
*Boston Yanks move to New York in 1949 and become New York Yanks, absorbing much of the Yankees' roster the next year.
*Team dissolved in 1951 and replaced by the Dallas Texans.
*Texans, in turn, become a road team halfway through the 1952 season and are dissolved shortly thereafter.

In 1953, a Baltimore-based group led by Carroll Rosenbloom won the rights to a new Baltimore franchise. Rosenbloom was awarded the remains of the Dallas Texans. The Texans themselves started as the Boston Yanks in 1944 before moving to New York as the Bulldogs in 1949. They then became the Yanks in 1950. Many of the players from the New York Yankees of the All-America Football Conference were added to the team. The Yanks moved to Dallas after the 1951 season. However, the NFL considers the Texans and Colts to be separate teams.

The Baltimore Colts were the first NFL team to have cheerleaders, and the old Colts' fan club and marching band (now under the name Baltimore's Marching Ravens) became part of the new franchise.

In 1958, coached by Hall of Famer Weeb Ewbank and led by Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas, the Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants at Yankee Stadium 23-17 in the NFL championship game, an overtime contest sometimes called "The Greatest Game Ever Played". Baltimore repeated as NFL champions in 1959, beating the New York Giants again, 31-16. In the early 1960s, Baltimore continued as an elite NFL team although they lost the NFL championship game in 1964 to the Cleveland Browns, 27-0.

The 1967 Colts entered the final week of the regular season undefeated, but then a 34-10 loss to the Rams at Los Angeles kept them out of the playoffs as the result gave both teams a final record of 11-1-2, with the Rams being awarded first place in the Western Conference's Coastal Division because they won the head-to-head series (the first meeting between the two teams, at Baltimore, ended in a 24-24 tie).

In 1968, after a 13-1 season, they gained a measure of revenge against the Browns, defeating them 34-0 in the NFL championship game. The 13-1 regular season and the trouncing of the Browns led NFL-based media to call the Colts "the greatest pro football team of all time". Fact|date=January 2007 The Colts went into Super Bowl III (the first in the series to officially be called the "Super Bowl") against the American Football League's New York Jets as 17-point favorites, with NFL icons such as Pro Bowlers Bobby Boyd (db), Mike Curtis (lb), John Mackey (te), Tom Matte (rb), Fred Miller (dl), Earl Morrall (qb), Willie Richardson (wr), and Bob Vogel (ol).

The result of the game was surprising to many in the sports media as Joe Namath and Matt Snell led the American Football League champion Jets to a World Championship over the NFL's Colts, 16-7. The Jets were coached by Weeb Ewbank, who had previously led the Colts to two NFL titles.

The Super Bowl letdown had an effect on the Colts as they only won 8 games in the 1969 season and missed the playoffs.

Rosenbloom, Art Modell of the Browns, and Art Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers facilitated the NFL merger with the American Football League, by joining the ten AFL teams in the AFC. After the NFL merged with the AFL in 1970, the Colts went on a rampage, as new head coach Don McCafferty and a new, improved defense led by Mike Curtis, the Colts won 11 games, took the AFC East Title, in the first round of the NFL Playoffs, they beat the Cincinnati Bengals 21-0, one week later in the AFC Championship, they beat the Oakland Raiders 27-17. Baltimore went on to win the first post-merger Super Bowl (Super Bowl V) against the NFC's Dallas Cowboys 16-13, on a Jim O'Brien field goal, with 5 seconds left to play. In 1971, the Colts made it back to the NFL Playoffs, they defeated the Cleveland Browns in the first round, but lost to the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship on January 2 1972 21-0.

On July 13, 1972, Rosenbloom traded the Colts to Robert Irsay for the Los Angeles Rams, but the players remained in their same respective cities. The Colts made the playoffs four more times in the 1970s - a wild card in 1971 and three consecutive AFC East titles in 1975 through 1977, led in these latter years by 1976 NFL Most Valuable Player Bert Jones at quarterback and by the NFL's best defensive line, known colloquially as the "Sack Pack". However, they then endured nine consecutive losing seasons beginning in 1978. In 1981, the defense was the main problem: The Colts allowed an NFL-record 533 points, and also set an all-time record for fewest sacks (13) and a modern record for fewest punt returns (12). The following year the offense collapsed: On November 28, 1982, the Colts' offense did not cross mid-field in an entire game, played at Buffalo against the Bills; this would not happen again in an NFL game until 2000. The Colts also finished 0-8-1 in 1982, only nine games having been played that year due to a 57-day players' strike.

By virtue of their league-worst record in 1982, Baltimore landed the first pick overall in the 1983 NFL Draft, using it to select John Elway, who immediately balked at the prospect of playing for Baltimore's Head Coach Frank Kush and threatened to play professional baseball instead (Elway was a prospect for the New York Yankees). He was traded to Denver for Mark Hermann, Chris Hinton and a first rounder in 1984 shortly after the draft. To make matters worse, the quarterback that they had drafted in the first round the year before, Art Schlichter, was suspended, because of his compulsive gambling problem, for the 1983 season a few months after the Elway trade. Somehow, Baltimore managed to finish a better-than-expected 7-9 with journeyman Mike Pagel at the helm.

Relocation to Indianapolis

Since the late 1970's Colts Owner Robert Irsay wanted the city of Baltimore to upgrade the stadium or build a new one. But with attendance dwindling and the team playing poorly, city officials were wary of such an investment and negotiations were slow and contentious. Relations between owner Robert Irsay and the city of Baltimore worsened, and despite numerous public announcements that Irsay's ultimate desire was to remain in Baltimore, he for many years held discussions with several cities hungry for an NFL franchise. Eventually narrowing the list of cities to two, Phoenix and Indianapolis. [http://members.tripod.com/~bonesaw/Indy_History.htm Descendants of the Mayflower - A History of the Indianapolis Colts] ]

Meanwhile in Baltimore, the situation worsened. Eventually, the Maryland legislature, prodded by Baltimore mayor (and later Maryland governor) William Donald Schaefer, intervened and threatened to pass a law providing the city of Baltimore the right to seize ownership of the team by eminent domain. As a result, the Colts Owner Robert Irsay began serious negotiations with Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut in order to move the team before the Maryland legislature could pass the bill. The city of Indianapolis was more than willing to receive the team and provided the Colts owner with a $12.5 million loan, a $4 million training complex, and the use of the brand new 57,980 seat Hoosier Dome. [http://www.siteselection.com/bonus/2001/sep/guestcolumn.htm Moving the Company] ] After agreeing to the deal, Mayflower Transit trucks were dispatched to the team's Maryland training complex at 5:30 p.m. on March 28, where workers loaded all of the team's belongings and in the middle of a snow storm, the team sneaked out of town at 3:00am the next morning.

The move triggered a flurry of legal activity that ended when representatives of Baltimore and the Colts organization reached a settlement on March 1986 in which all lawsuits regarding the relocation were dismissed, and the Colts would endorse a new NFL team for Baltimore. [http://www2.indystar.com/library/factfiles/sports/football-pro/indpls_colts/history/colts.html History of the Indianapolis Colts] from indystar.com (Last Accessed June 10, 2006)] However, during the 1993 NFL expansion the Irsay family reneged on this agreement and supported Jacksonville and Carolina for expansion. Nonetheless, many of the prominent old-time Colts (many of whom had settled in the Baltimore area), led by Unitas, chose to cut all ties to the relocated Colts team. To this day, Baltimore fans still despise the Irsays.

Under the administrations of mayor Richard Lugar and then William Hudnut, Indianapolis was making an ambitious effort to reinvent itself into a `Great American City.' The Hoosier Dome (later renamed the RCA Dome) had been built specifically for and was ready to host an NFL expansion team.

The Colts' final game in Baltimore was played on December 18, 1983 against the Houston Oilers. The Oilers would, thirteen years later from this day, play their final game before moving to Tennessee against the Baltimore Ravens at Memorial Stadium.

The Pre-Peyton years in Indianapolis

Expand|date=January 2007Between 1984 and 1998, the Colts had little success. They employed seven different head coaches in 14 years and endured many losing seasons, earning three #1 picks and three #2 picks. Unfortunately, their initial #1 picks did little to help the struggling Colts: Jeff George, drafted in 1990 as a quarterback, had a disappointing career with the Colts and even alienated the city's fans with his rude comments towards the city. Steve Emtman, drafted in 1992 as a defensive end, was a promising pick but was plagued with injuries throughout his short career.

The Colts appeared in the playoffs just three times during that span. Their first success came in the strike-shortened 1987 NFL Season when they won the AFC East but lost at the Cleveland Browns. They didn't reach the playoffs again until 1995 as a wild card entrant, where they started out by beating the defending AFC Champion San Diego Chargers and followed that with a victory at the heavily favored Kansas City Chiefs to advance to the AFC championship game. Led by Jim Harbaugh (current Stanford University head coach), first year running back Marshall Faulk and All-Pro defensive tackle Tony Siragusa, they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-16 in a thrilling finish as Harbaugh threw an 53 yard "hail mary" pass that initially appeared to be caught by Aaron Bailey. Slow-motion replays showed the ball had rolled off the chest of Bailey and briefly touched the ground, denying the Colts their first Super Bowl appearance since moving to Indianapolis (this was before the Challenge rule had made its way into the NFL, so the play would have stood even if Bailey had not actually dropped the ball).

The following off-season, Marvin Harrison was drafted in the first round off the famous 1996 Wide Receiver Draft class that included Terrell Owens (49ers), Keyshawn Johnson (NY Jets), Muhsin Muhammad (Carolina Panthers) and Terry Glenn (Patriots). The Colts again finished 9-7 in 1996 and again lost to the Steelers but this time, they lost in their first playoff game.

The 1997 season was rock bottom for the Colts. It began with the death of Robert Irsay on January 17th. His son, Jim Irsay took over then starter Jim Harbaugh was injured, as was backup Paul Justin. The Colts finished 3-13 and earned their third #1 pick since moving to Indianapolis. With new owner Jim Irsay the Colts were able to gain a new direction, beginning the long rebuilding process that would ultimately lead to success in the NFL.

The Peyton Manning Era

Jim Irsay began to put his mark on the Colts one year after taking over from his father. He fired Coach Lindy Infante and hired GM Bill Polian and head coach Jim E. Mora. The team drafted University of Tennessee Volunteers quarterback, Peyton Manning, who was third in the Heisman trophy balloting, and son of New Orleans Saints legend Archie Manning. Peyton was the first pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, and in the 1999 NFL Draft Edgerrin James was selected 4th overall to be the team's running back. The Colts finished 13-3 in 1999, but were eliminated in the divisional round by the Tennessee Titans. A year later in 2000, they were defeated in overtime in a wild-card round game against the Miami Dolphins in Miami, when a potential game-winning field goal attempt from 49 yards out by Mike Vanderjagt sailed wide right. The following year, Edgerrin tore his ACL, and while backup Dominic Rhodes proved a capable starter, becoming the only undrafted rookie to rush for 1000 yards in his rookie season, the Colts would finish 6-10 in 2001 and miss the playoffs, in part due to a defense that gave up the most points in a season of any NFL team since 1981. Coach Jim Mora would be fired after the 2001 season, reportedly due to a disagreement with general manager Bill Polian over defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. [ [http://espn.go.com/nfl/news/2002/0108/1307715.html ESPN.com: NFL - Mora fired as Colts coach after 6-10 season ] ]

This led to the hiring of coach Tony Dungy, the architect of the renovated Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise (who had not made the playoffs in the previous 15 years), notably improving their defense and taking them to the playoffs 4 times in his 6 years in Tampa before being fired. In his first season, he led the Colts to the playoffs while preaching improved defense, but a blowout playoff loss to the New York Jets put an end to their season. In the 2003 NFL season, Manning was co-MVP along with Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair, as the Colts won the AFC South Division title, defeated the Denver Broncos in the wild-card playoff (41-10) their first home playoff win since moving to Indianapolis, and advanced to play the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional playoffs, winning 38-31. In the AFC Championship game, they were defeated 24-14 by the eventual Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, with quarterback Peyton Manning throwing four interceptions, in a game that was widely criticized for its minimal officiating (only seven penalties were called during the entire game, six of them were pre-snap fouls). This led to a reinterpretation of the "bump rule" for the 2004 season. This is commonly referred to as the "Colts Rule" or the "Pollard Rule" named so for the non-call on Willie McGinest's mauling of Colts' TE Marcus Pollard on the Colts' final offensive drive. The Pollard Rule led to a large increase of defensive pass interference calls the following season.

2004 season

In the 2004 season, the Colts hoped to make another trip to the postseason. After losing in Week 1 to the defending champion New England Patriots 27-24 in Foxboro, they won four straight games before their week 6 bye. During that streak, they beat the Tennessee Titans in Nashville 31-17, won in the week 3 home opener against the Green Bay Packers 45-31, and then tied for the AFC South with a victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Alltel Stadium 24-17. They won at home against the Oakland Raiders 35-14 but coming off of their bye week, the Colts lost the next 2 games. They lost the rematch against the Jaguars at home, 27-24, and lost to the revenge-hungry Kansas City Chiefs, 45-35. Following these back-to-back defeats, the Colts began an 8-game winning streak. They won their next 2 home games, beating the Minnesota Vikings 31-28 & the Houston Texans 49-14. Then, they won their next 2 road games, beating the Chicago Bears 41-10 & the Detroit Lions 41-9. They returned home and got a series sweep over the Titans 51-24, which also marked the 4th game in a row in which the Colts won with 40+ points. It also marked the 5th game in a row in which they won with 30+ points. On a trip to Houston with a win, they achieved another series sweep, this time over the Texans 23-14. With that victory, the Colts locked up the AFC South title for the second year in a row.

In their week 16 home game against the playoff-bound San Diego Chargers, Peyton Manning was only a few touchdown passes away from breaking Dan Marino's record of 48 TD passes in a single season. Trailing 31-16, Dominic Rhodes returned a kickoff 88 yards for a TD. With 4:47 left in regulation, Peyton Manning waved the punting team off, despite the fact that it was 4th & 4 on the Colts' 25 yard-line. His gamble worked with a complete pass to Reggie Wayne for a first down. He then completed two more passes to tight end Dallas Clark & an 18-yard throw to Marvin Harrison. He finally broke Marino's record with TD Pass #49 to wide receiver Brandon Stokley. He completed a 2-point conversion to tie the game up at 31-31 and send it into overtime. Eventually, the Colts won 34-31 with a Mike Vanderjagt field goal and secured the #3 AFC seed in the playoffs.

After dropping a meaningless game to the Broncos on the road, the Colts managed to get payback in the AFC wild card round with their 49-24 victory at home. During that game, Manning threw 27 completed passes out of 33 tries for an astounding 457 yards, with 4 TDs and only 1 interception. Edgerrin James ran 18 times for 63 yards and a single touchdown (with his longest run being 11 yards).

Despite their big victory, the Colts lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Patriots for the second year in a row the next week in the divisional round, 20-3. This was the worst loss of the Colts' season, as one of the most prolific offenses during the season was consistently stopped by New England's defense. It was the first time all season that the Colts were unable to score a touchdown. In addition, the Colts defense struggled to stop the Patriots offense from executing 3 time-consuming drives that each lasted over 7 minutes and lead to 17 total points.

2005 season

Despite going 0-5 in the preseason (including their American Bowl loss to the Falcons), the Colts began the 2005 Season 13-0. They were only the fourth team in league history to reach a 13-0 record. The Colts' offense, previously dependent on Manning's passing game, proved its versatility in more heavily emphasizing rushing. This, in combination with an improved defense, allowed the team to keep winning. Another factor that contributed to the Colts' success was their use of the no-huddle offense. Instead of calling plays in a conventional huddle, quarterback Manning began calling them at the line of scrimmage. This gave the offense the potential to move at a much quicker pace, and does not allow the opposing defense to substitute in fresh defenders.

The Colts held each of their first five opponents to ten points or under, and recorded four interceptions in the Week 5 game against the 49ers. On a Week 6 Monday Night home game against the St. Louis Rams, the Colts came back for a 45-28 victory after trailing 17-0, and QB Peyton Manning and WR Marvin Harrison broke the record for the most touchdowns between a QB and a WR. They broke the record of tandem Steve Young and Jerry Rice's with 86 touchdowns. After their record-setting victory, they traveled to Houston and won against the Texans 38-20 before heading into their Bye Week in Week 8.

On November 7, the Colts got their eighth-straight victory, beating the two-time defending champion New England Patriots 40-21 on Monday Night Football. This marked the end of the Patriots' six-game win streak against the Colts, and Peyton Manning's first victory at New England against the Tom Brady-led Patriots. It was also the second time in 2005 that the Colts offense scored 40 or more points.

On November 20, one week after easily sweeping the Texans at home 31-17, the Colts faced their first real challenge against the Carson Palmer-led Cincinnati Bengals, in which the Colts won 45-37 and became the first team to go 10-0 since the 1998 Denver Broncos. It also marked the third time this year they won with 40-plus points. The Colts then defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-7, on a Monday Night Football game on November 28, spoiling Ben Roethlisberger's return from knee surgery and giving him his first road loss.

On Sunday, December 3, the Colts swept division rival Tennessee Titans at home 35-3 to remain undefeated, becoming the first team to qualify for the playoffs. The next week they swept the Jacksonville Jaguars, another division rival, by winning 26-18, along with clinching the division and the No. 1 playoff seed in the AFC, which ensured the Colts' home-field advantage. This also marked the first time since the 1998 Denver Broncos and the fourth time in NFL history that a team went 13-0.

On Sunday, December 18, the San Diego Chargers defeated the Colts 26-17, ending their bid to join the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only teams in NFL history to have a perfect (no losses or ties, including playoffs) season.

In week 16, the Colts were forced to play without their coach, Tony Dungy, who took the week off to mourn the death of his son James, who committed suicide earlier in the week. With the team resting most of their key and injured players, the Colts lost their second straight game 28-13 to the eventual NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks.

In their last regular season home game of the year, Coach Dungy returned to the sidelines, and the Colts again played mostly with their back-ups and won against the Arizona Cardinals 17-13. The team's final record of 14-2 marked the best 16-game season in the franchise's history.

On January 15, 2006, the Colts were eliminated from the playoffs in a divisional matchup against the eventual Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Trailing by 21-10 late in the game, the Colts were aided by a questionableFact|date=February 2007 instant replay reversal of an interception by Steeler Troy Polamalu. Regaining possession of the ball through a turnover, they drove down the field, only to have Mike Vanderjagt's 46-yard field goal attempt sail wide to the right. This loss marked the first time since the NFL expanded to a 12-team playoff tournament format in 1990 that a #1 seed lost to a #6 seed.

2006 season

After becoming the first team in NFL history to begin two consecutive seasons by winning at least their first 9 games, the Colts proceeded to lose 3 of their next 4 games with much blame being assigned to their poor run defense. However, in week 15 the Colts, with a strong showing from their defense, defeated the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football 34-16 to capture their 4th consecutive AFC South title.

Also in week 13 against the Titans, QB Peyton Manning and WR Marvin Harrison became the first such combination in NFL history to have completed 100 touchdown passes. The previous record for quarterback/wide receiver TD passes was 85, so with each TD pass the duo continues to obliterate the record books. Despite this, Colts General Manager Bill Polian insists the current rules for pass interference are not strict enough and puts the Colts at a competitive disadvantage.

The Colts finished the season with a 12-4 record, giving them the number 3 seed in the playoffs. The record also marked their fifth consecutive season with 10 victories or more.

In the Colts' wild-card round playoff game, they defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 23-8 despite Peyton Manning's three interceptions. Shockingly, it was their defense that helped him out. Their maligned run defense held the Chiefs to 44 yards on the ground, (Larry Johnson only had 32 yards) and Chiefs' quarterback Trent Green only had 2 yards passing in the entire first half. The Chiefs didn't manage a first down until 3:33 remained in the third quarter.

The Colts defeated the Baltimore Ravens 15-6 in the Division Playoff round, thanks to kicker Adam Vinatieri's five field goals in the franchise's first playoff game back in Baltimore since the team's relocation. They played the New England Patriots on Sunday, January 21, 2007 in Indianapolis. This was the Colts third conference championship game in the Indianapolis era, and the first one played at home. The game also marked the first time the AFC title game was played in a domed stadium. The Colts defeated the Patriots 38-34 in the Championship title game, after trailing at one point 21-3, to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLI on February 4, 2007. The 18 point comeback was the largest in NFL conference championship history.

uper Bowl XLI

On February 4, 2007, the Colts won Super Bowl XLI, defeating the Chicago Bears 29-17 in Dolphin Stadium, in Miami Gardens, Florida in the first ever Super Bowl played in the rain. Rain played a substantial obstacle to both teams, as a combined total of six turnovers were recorded in the first quarter, a new Super Bowl high. Quarterback Peyton Manning, after a rocky start which saw him throw an interception, was named the MVP when he recovered to complete 25 of 38 passes, one for a touchdown. Reggie Wayne was the sole receiver of a passing touchdown from the Colts offense, and the running back duo of Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai combined for 190 yards, with Rhodes achieving the only rushing touchdown, and kicker Adam Vinatieri converted on 3 out of 4 field goal attempts. On the defensive side of the ball Pro Bowl safety Bob Sanders and rookie cornerback Kelvin Hayden both intercepted Bears' quarterback Rex Grossman towards the end of the game, with Hayden returning his for 56 yards for a touchdown which helped seal the win for the Colts. In winning the game Indianapolis became the first "dome team" to win a Super Bowl in an outdoor stadium. Tony Dungy also became the first African American to win the Super Bowl as an NFL head coach, as well as only the third man to have won the Super Bowl as both a head coach and a player (along with Tom Flores and Mike Ditka).


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