1976 Baltimore Colts season
OwnerRobert Irsay
Head coachTed Marchibroda
General managerJoe Thomas
Home fieldMemorial Stadium
Results
Record11–3
Division placeT-1st AFC East
Playoff finishLost Divisional Playoffs (vs. Steelers) 14–40
Pro BowlersT George Kunz
QB Bert Jones
WR Roger Carr
RB Lydell Mitchell
DE John Dutton
K Toni Linhart

The 1976 Baltimore Colts season was the 24th season for the team in the National Football League. Led by second-year head coach Ted Marchibroda, the Colts finished with a record of 11 wins and 3 losses, tied for first in the AFC East division with the New England Patriots.[1] Baltimore won the AFC East title based on a better division record (7–1 to Patriots' 6–2).

Marchibroda, the reigning NFL coach of the year, resigned a week before the regular season opener, due to a power struggle with general manager Joe Thomas and owner Robert Irsay.[2] Baltimore had won its first two preseason games, then dropped the final four.[2] Several Colts assistant coaches threatened to leave the team, and quarterback Bert Jones publicly came to his coach's defense.[3] Thomas and Irsay quickly made amends with the coach before the season started.[4][5][6][7] (Thomas would be fired by the team shortly after the season.)

The Colts offense was dominant in 1976: they led the league in scoring with 417 points (29.7 per game). Jones was named league MVP after passing for a league-best 3,104 yards, 9.27 yards-per-attempt, and a passer rating of 102.5, second best in the NFL. Running back Lydell Mitchell also had a spectacular year, rushing for 1,200 yards,[8] and catching 60 passes. Wide receiver Roger Carr proved to be a valuable deep threat in the passing game, leading the league with 1,112 receiving yards and 25.9 yards per reception.[9] All three offensive players made the Pro Bowl team.

Offseason

Draft

Main article: 1976 NFL Draft

1976 Baltimore Colts draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 20 Ken Novak  Defensive tackle Purdue
3 81 Ed Simonini  Linebacker Texas A&M
3 90 Ron Lee  Running back West Virginia
5 134 Sanders Shiver  Linebacker Carson–Newman
5 143 Mike Kirkland  Quarterback Arkansas Played for Colts in 1978
8 228 Ricky Thompson  Wide receiver Baylor
9 258 Stu Levenick  Tackle Illinois
10 283 Tim Baylor  Defensive back Morgan State
11 310 Rick Gibney  Defensive tackle Georgia Tech
12 339 Frank Stavroff  Placekicker Indiana
14 394 Jeremiah Cummings  Defensive end Albany State
15 424 Gary Alexander  Tackle Clemson
16 449 Mike Fuhrman  Tight end Memphis State
16 451 Steve Ludwig  Center Miami (FL)
      Made roster    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career

[10]

Personnel

Staff/Coaches

1976 Baltimore Colts staff
Front Office

Coaching Staff

Offensive Coaches

Defensive Coaches

Special Teams Coaches

  • Special Teams – George Boutselis

Final roster

1976 Baltimore Colts roster
Quarterbacks

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen

Linebackers

Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists


Practice squad



Rookies in italics

Regular season

Main article: 1976 NFL season

Schedule

Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance
1 September 12 at New England Patriots W 27–13 1–0 Schaefer Stadium 43,512
2 September 19 Cincinnati Bengals W 28–27 2–0 Memorial Stadium 50,374
3 September 26 at Dallas Cowboys L 27–30 2–1 Texas Stadium 64,237
4 October 3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers W 42–17 3–1 Memorial Stadium 40,053
5 October 10 Miami Dolphins W 28–14 4–1 Memorial Stadium 58,832
6 October 17 at Buffalo Bills W 31–13 5–1 Rich Stadium 71,009
7 October 24 at New York Jets W 20–0 6–1 Shea Stadium 59,576
8 November 1 Houston Oilers W 38–14 7–1 Memorial Stadium 60,020
9 November 7 at San Diego Chargers W 37–21 8–1 San Diego Stadium 42,827
10 November 14 New England Patriots L 14–21 8–2 Memorial Stadium 58,226
11 November 22 at Miami Dolphins W 17–16 9–2 Miami Orange Bowl 62,104
12 November 28 New York Jets W 33–16 10–2 Memorial Stadium 44,023
13 December 4 at St. Louis Cardinals L 17–24 10–3 Busch Memorial Stadium 48,282
14 December 12 Buffalo Bills W 58–20 11–3 Memorial Stadium 50,451

Note: Intra-division opponents are in bold text.

Game summaries

Week 6

1 234Total
• Colts 3 14014 31
Bills 3 1000 13

[11]

Standings

AFC East
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Baltimore Colts(2) 11 3 0 .786 7–1 11–1 417 246 W1
New England Patriots(4) 11 3 0 .786 6–2 10–2 376 236 W6
Miami Dolphins 6 8 0 .429 5–3 6–6 263 264 L1
New York Jets 3 11 0 .214 2–6 3–9 169 383 L4
Buffalo Bills 2 12 0 .143 0–8 2–10 245 363 L10

Postseason

Main article: 1976–77 NFL playoffs

The team returned to the playoffs as a No. 2 seed and hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round. The Colts fell behind 26–7 at the half, and lost 40–14.[12] This game is better remembered for the post-game crash of a private plane into an unoccupied section of Memorial Stadium.[13][14][15][16]

Round Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance
Divisional December 19 Pittsburgh Steelers (3) L 14–40 0–1 Memorial Stadium 60,020

See also

References

  1. ^ "A romp in Baltimore sets up playoff scene". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. December 13, 1976. p. 18.
  2. ^ a b "Marchibroda quits Colts". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. September 6, 1976. p. 1, part 2.
  3. ^ "Colts claim front office ruined team". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. September 7, 1976. p. 1, part 2.
  4. ^ "Marchibroda back; Colts' standoff over". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. September 8, 1976. p. 23.
  5. ^ "Marchibroda is back with Colts". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. September 8, 1976. p. 1, part 2.
  6. ^ Lea, Bud (September 8, 1976). "Irsay bows to pressure". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1, part 2.
  7. ^ Neft, David S.; Cohen, Richard M.; and Korch, Rich The Sports Encyclopedia: Pro Football, 12th Edition, p.306, Martin’s Press, August 1994, ISBN 0-312-11073-1
  8. ^ fourth-best in the NFL, second-best in the NFC behind O. J. Simpson
  9. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com: 1976 NFL Leaders and Leaderboards
  10. ^ "1976 Baltimore Colts Draftees". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved January 17, 2022.
  11. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com
  12. ^ "Pittsburgh's easy victory averts tragedy". Milwaukee Journal. press dispatches. December 20, 1976. p. 13, part 2.
  13. ^ "A year in sports". Sports Illustrated. (photo). February 17, 1977. p. 47.
  14. ^ "Rout was a blessing when plane crashed". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). UPI. December 20, 1976. p. 1B.
  15. ^ "Touch Down". Milwaukee Journal. (Washington Star Service). December 20, 1976. p. 13, part 2.
  16. ^ "Small plane crashes into stand minutes after 60,000 leave". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). Associated Press. December 20, 1976. p. 1.