Welcome to a new series called Moments That Mattered where we break down important plays in Jets history.
On January 12, 1969, the Jets shocked the football world and defeated the Baltimore Colts 16-7 at the the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida. The Colts entered the game as 18 point favorites over the champions of the American Football League, but the Jets’ thorough victory helped legitimize the upstart league.
With around nine and a half minutes left in the first half, the Jets had gotten to the Baltimore 4 yard line in 10 plays. They faced a second and goal.
The Colts loaded the middle of the field with 9 defenders in a goal line front.
All of these bodies up the middle would make an inside run play very difficult to execute. There were just too many players to move to create a running lane.
The Jets’ play call seemed to show the coaching staff was cognizant of this. With everybody on the interior, the Colts were vulnerable to an outside run play, which was what the Jets called.
Decades before zone blocking schemes took the league by storm, we see the Jets call a run play with elements of zone blocking.
Rather than try to drive defenders back to open up holes for a run up the middle, the linemen were asked to simply obstruct a defensive lineman from moving to his right, the direction the play was flowing. Even if a block wasn’t great, any sort of delay would probably be enough to prevent the defender from reaching Matt Snell, the ball carrier who was running outside, away from the line.
Note that number 53 is not the blocking assignment on the left side of that picture. There is a defensive lineman partially obscured.
As you can see, the Jets are throwing a bunch of cut blocks up front. If the legs from the defenders get taken out, that’s great. The real objective is just to delay their ability to move laterally to catch Snell.
On the outside, George Sauer is running his man into the end zone on a route to prevent the corner from being in a position to help in run support on this outside carry.
The key block needs to be thrown by Emerson Boozer on Rick Volk on the edge to spring Snell.
Boozer gets just enough of his man. Volk gets off the block, but not quickly enough to tackle Snell.
The only other guy who could make a play is the aforementioned number 53, Dennis Gaubatz. He is Snell’s man to beat to the corner, which Snell does.
The Jets took a lead they would hold for the rest of the game as they went on to capture their first and to this date only Super Bowl win.