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NFL – Throwback Thursday: Tough Day For Broadway Joe

08 Nov

The 1968 American Football League season was a magical one for New York Jets’ future Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath, who led his team to the AFL title with a win over previous champ Oakland, then “guaranteed” that his Jets would beat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl. Of course, he delivered on that promise and the rest is not only history, but pro football lore. There was a major speed bump in that ’68 season for Broadway Joe, however, and it came against the AFL’s lowliest of the low, the Buffalo Bills, on September 29 of that year. With the Jets and Bills facing off this week on the NFL schedule, we’ll explore that game for this week’s Throwback Thursday feature.

The Bills’ organization at the time was in total chaos, with their back-to-back AFL championship seasons of the mid-1960s long in the rear view mirror. However, one component of the Bills’ glory years was relatively intact – their proud defensive unit. On this day, that defense rose up to provide a monumental effort against Namath and the Jets. They didn’t, by any means, completely shut down the Jets’ offense. Led by Matt Snell’s 12 carries for 124 yards, the Jets ran the ball effectively, while their passing game wasn’t throttled either, as Namath threw 4 touchdown passes, 2 to George Sauer and one each to Don Maynard and Snell. New York outgained the Bills with 427 yards compared to 197 on the day. The difference? The Jets turned the ball over 6 times, including 5 interceptions by Namath. Buffalo’s old War Memorial Stadium, better known as “The Rockpile”, was never one of Namath’s favorite places to play, but on this September Sunday he couldn’t get out of town fast enough. In between his TD tosses, the Bills turned 3 of their 5 interceptions into pick-sixes. Tom Janik returned his 100 yards for a score in the second quarter, while the Bills’ All-AFL cornerback tandem of Butch Byrd and Booker Edgerson ran back their picks 53 and 45 yards respectively in the fourth quarter to provide the winning margin in a shocking 37-35 upset. The win was Buffalo’s only victory of the ’68 season as they finished 1-12-1, a record that allowed them to draft O.J. Simpson in the college draft. The Jets, meanwhile, as previously noted above, were able to put this nightmare behind them as they went on to capture the AFL’s first Super Bowl triumph to cap off their season.

 

Byrd races for his pick six

Buffalo’s Butch Byrd heads for the end zone with his pick six

 

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