1972 Baltimore Colts season

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1972 Baltimore Colts season
OwnerRobert Irsay
Head coachDon McCafferty (1–4)
John Sandusky (4–5)
General managerJoe Thomas
Home fieldMemorial Stadium
Division place3rd AFC East
Playoff finishDid not qualify

The 1972 Baltimore Colts season was the 20th season for the team in the National Football League. They finished with 5 wins and 9 losses, third in the AFC East.

Robert Irsay, who had recently taken over the Los Angeles Rams, traded ownership of the NFL franchises with Colts' owner Carroll Rosenbloom, with players and coaching staffs remaining intact.[1][2][3] However, the Colts were getting older and started 1–4 before third-year head coach Don McCafferty was fired by new general manager Joe Thomas.[4][5][6][7] In their final nine games under interim head coach John Sandusky, Baltimore won four to finish at 5–9,[8] their first losing mark in sixteen years. The entire coaching staff was let go after the season concluded.[9][10][11]


NFL Draft[edit]

Round Pick Player Position School/Club Team



1972 Baltimore Colts staff
Front Office

Coaching Staff

Offensive Coaches

Defensive Coaches


1972 Baltimore Colts roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Practice squad

Rookies in italics

Regular season[edit]

The season began ominously for the Colts when they were defeated at home on opening day by the St. Louis Cardinals and their journeyman quarterback, Tim Van Galder. In week two, Johnny Unitas threw for 376 yards and three touchdowns, but it was far from enough as Joe Namath threw for 496 yards and six touchdowns to power the New York Jets to a 44–34 victory at Memorial Stadium, the Jets' first victory over the Colts since Super Bowl III.

In October, the Colts' season reached its nadir when it was shut out twice at home in a three-week stretch by the Dallas Cowboys, who undoubtedly wanted revenge for their loss to Baltimore in Super Bowl V, and the Miami Dolphins, who were on their way to a 17–0 season and their first Super Bowl championship under former Colts coach Don Shula.

Unitas, age 39, made his final appearance in Baltimore in the fourth quarter of a 35–7 victory over Buffalo on December 3, and threw a 63-yard completion for his 287th career touchdown pass.[13][14] Two weeks later, he played his final game as a Colt, with a completion and an interception.[8]

For the third consecutive year, the Colts played their season finale at the Orange Bowl in Miami. Only this time, it was not in the postseason, but a humbling 16–0 shutout to the Dolphins in Week 14 in a game which was nowhere near as close as the final score.[8] Baltimore ended the 1970 season with a win over the Cowboys in Super Bowl V, and ended the 1971 season with a loss to the Dolphins in the AFC Championship Game.


Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance Recap
1 September 17 St. Louis Cardinals L 3–10 0–1 Memorial Stadium 53,562 Recap
2 September 24 New York Jets L 34–44 0–2 Memorial Stadium 56,626 Recap
3 October 1 at Buffalo Bills W 17–0 1–2 War Memorial Stadium 46,206 Recap
4 October 8 San Diego Chargers L 20–23 1–3 Memorial Stadium 55,459 Recap
5 October 15 Dallas Cowboys L 0–21 1–4 Memorial Stadium 58,992 Recap
6 October 22 at New York Jets L 20–24 1–5 Shea Stadium 62,948 Recap
7 October 29 Miami Dolphins L 0–23 1–6 Memorial Stadium 60,000 Recap
8 November 6 at New England Patriots W 24–17 2–6 Schaefer Stadium 60,999 Recap
9 November 12 at San Francisco 49ers L 21–24 2–7 Candlestick Park 61,214 Recap
10 November 19 at Cincinnati Bengals W 20–19 3–7 Riverfront Stadium 49,512 Recap
11 November 26 New England Patriots W 31–0 4–7 Memorial Stadium 54,907 Recap
12 December 3 Buffalo Bills W 35–7 5–7 Memorial Stadium 55,390 Recap
13 December 10 at Kansas City Chiefs L 10–24 5–8 Arrowhead Stadium 44,175 Recap
14 December 16 at Miami Dolphins L 0–16 5–9 Orange Bowl 80,010 Recap

Note: Intra-division opponents are in bold text.


AFC East
Miami Dolphins 14 0 0 1.000 8–0 11–0 385 171 W14
New York Jets 7 7 0 .500 6–2 6–5 367 324 L2
Baltimore Colts 5 9 0 .357 4–4 5–6 235 252 L2
Buffalo Bills 4 9 1 .321 2–6 2–9 257 377 W1
New England Patriots 3 11 0 .214 0–8 0–11 192 446 L1

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Colts owner trades club for Rams". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. July 14, 1972. p. 1, part 2.
  2. ^ a b "Colts' owner now sole owner of Rams". The Bulletin. (Bend, Oregon). UPI. July 14, 1972. p. 12.
  3. ^ a b Maule, Tex (August 14, 1972). "Nay on the neighs, yea on the baas". Sports Illustrated. p. 67.
  4. ^ "Colts pick Sandusky as coach". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. October 17, 1972. p. 2, part 2.
  5. ^ "Colt players meet secretly on McCafferty dismissal". Milwaukee Journal. press dispatches. October 17, 1972. p. 16, part 2.
  6. ^ "Curry criticizes McCafferty firing". Free Lance-Star. (Fredericksburg, Virginia). Associated Press. October 17, 1972. p. 6.
  7. ^ "Colts players unhappy; rap coach's firing". Youngstown Vindicator. (Ohio). Associated Press. October 18, 1972. p. 36.
  8. ^ a b c "Miami succeeds, but Morris fails". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. December 17, 1972. p. 2D.
  9. ^ "Thomas fires entire Colt coaching staff". Bangor Daily News. (Maine). UPI. December 21, 1972. p. 26.
  10. ^ "Coach Sandusky ousted by Colts". Nashua Telegraph. (New Hampshire). Associated Press. December 21, 1972. p. 23.
  11. ^ "Mass firing starts Colt housecleaning". Free Lance-Star. (Fredericksburg, Virginia). Associated Press. December 21, 1972. p. 8.
  12. ^ NFL 2001 Record and Fact Book, Workman Publishing Co, New York,NY, ISBN 0-7611-2480-2, p.283
  13. ^ "Domres stars as Colts whip Bills". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. December 4, 1972. p. 3, part 2.
  14. ^ "287th TD pass". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). (AP wirephoto). December 4, 1972. p. 25.