When analyzing the best Colts teams in NFL history, there doesn’t seem to be much debate.
Most concur that No. 1 is the 1958 Baltimore Colts, as ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky decided in a Monday story on “Best Colts team ever.”
Kuharsky lists the legends on that team: QB John Unitas, WR Raymond Berry, LT Jim Parker, HB Lenny Moore, RB Alan Ameche, DT Gene Lipscomb, DE Don Joyce, DE Gino Marchetti, DT Art Donovan.
His assessment: “It’s very difficult to choose against the 1958 NFL champions, who took the crown with an overtime win in ‘The Greatest Game Ever Played.’ That win over the Giants at Yankee Stadium avenged a regular-season road loss to New York and did much to propel the NFL and football to prominence.
The first televised game was also overtime’s debut. The outcome is considered the NFL’s launching point to the popularity it enjoys today.
As Kuharsky reminds, the Baltimore and Indianapolis Colts franchises are one, based on record books and league rules. So while some current Colts fans might just want to concentrate not the Indianapolis history, and Baltimore Colts fans have the same viewpoint about that city’s history, you can’t separate the two.
The other teams in the running for, shall we say, a distant second? If there’s much debate, it’s in the pecking order of the honorable mentions.
Kuharsky stays old school with the first honorable mention being the 1959 Baltimore Colts, which repeated as NFL champions with another win over the Giants. Former players from that team admit they don’t even remember much of the details, because the ’58 team is the one that everyone asks about.
Next on the list is the 1968 Baltimore Colts — yeah, the team that was considered one of the greatest in league history until it can into Joe Namath and the New York Jets in Super Bowl III in Miami. Before that stunning upset loss to the Jets, the Colts had outscored opponents 402-144.
Indianapolis finally makes the list with the Super Bowl XLI champions from 2006. Peyton Manning and the Colts were 16-4 and defeated the Chicago Bears in Miami with the quarterback being named MVP. But Kuharsky mentions how 2005’s squad “may have been a better team,” an opinion that has been shared over the years by head coach Tony Dungy as well as several players on both teams. But the Colts were upset the previous year in the AFC Divisional round by the eventual champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
Perhaps because the season ended with a Super Bowl V victory, the 1970 team is the last mention. Rookie Jim O’Brien kicked a deciding 32-yard field goal to lift the Baltimore Colts over the Dallas Cowboys in a sloppy turnover-filled game.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.