1991 Indianapolis Colts season
Head coachRon Meyer
Rick Venturi (interim)
Home fieldHoosier Dome
Division place5th AFC East
Playoff finishDid not qualify
Pro BowlersNone

The 1991 Indianapolis Colts season was the 39th season for the team in the National Football League and eighth in Indianapolis. The team was looking to improve on the 7–9 record they had recorded in 1990. Instead, the Colts put together a campaign that ranked as one of the worst in NFL history.[1]

The Colts only recorded one victory in sixteen games, becoming the fourth team since the extension of the NFL's regular season to sixteen games to accomplish this. To date it is their worst full season record in the entire history of the franchise, and the second worst overall record in team history. The 1991 Colts’ futility was beaten only by the 1982 Baltimore Colts squad, where the team failed to record a victory in the strike-shortened season and finished at 0-8-1.

The Colts’ poor performance cost sixth-year head coach Ron Meyer his job after the Colts’ fifth consecutive loss to open the season. Meyer had been with the Colts since Week 14 in 1986, when he replaced the fired Rod Dowhower after the Colts had lost their first thirteen games of the season. Defensive coordinator Rick Venturi was promoted to interim head coach; he would lead the team to its only win, a one-point victory over the Jets on the road. The 1991 Colts are one of three 1-15 teams to win their lone game by one point; the others are the 1980 Saints and 2000 Chargers.

The Colts scored the fewest points up to that point (143)[note 1] of any team in NFL history in a sixteen-game schedule,[note 2] scoring in the single digits in 11 games. The Colts never scored more than 28 points in any game (doing so in their lone victory), scored less than ten points eleven times, were shut out twice, and failed to score one single touchdown in nine of their sixteen games, which remains the largest proportion of games without scoring a touchdown since the 1977 “Zero Gang” Buccaneers did not score a touchdown in eight of fourteen games.[2] Statistics site Football Outsiders said of the Colts 1991 season:

It’s the flipside of [Super Bowl champion] Washington; the Colts were the worst offense and defense in the league in the second half of close games, and the worst offense in the league in the first quarter.[3]

Their futility was mentioned in a Thanksgiving edition of Bill Swerski's Superfans, a recurring Saturday Night Live sketch. The four characters, all Chicago Bears fans, commented on how some cities aren't as fortunate as Chicago to have a good football team, citing Indianapolis as an example. Coincidentally, six days before the skit aired, the Bears defeated the Colts 31–17 at Indianapolis.[4]


NFL Draft

Main article: 1991 NFL Draft

Round Pick Player Position School/Club Team
2 40 Shane Curry Defensive end Miami (FL)
3 69 Dave McCloughan Defensive back Colorado
4 96 Mark Vander Poel Offensive tackle Colorado
5 125 Kerry Cash Tight end Texas
6 152 Mel Agee Defensive end Illinois
7 181 James Bradley Wide receiver Michigan State
8 208 Tim Bruton Tight end Missouri
9 236 Howard Griffith Running back Illinois
10 263 Frank Giannetti Nose tackle Penn State
11 292 Jerry Crafts Offensive tackle Louisville
12 319 Rob Luedeke Center Penn State



1991 Indianapolis Colts staff
Front office

Head coaches

Offensive coaches

Defensive coaches

Special teams coaches

  • Special teams – Brad Seely

Strength and conditioning

  • Strength and conditioning – Tom Zupancic


1991 Indianapolis Colts final roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Practice squad

Rookies in italics

Regular season

The Colts were victorious only once in the regular season, finishing last in the AFC East, and their fifteen losses tied an NFL record that was initially set by the 1980 New Orleans Saints and tied by the 1989 Dallas Cowboys and 1990 New England Patriots in the previous two NFL seasons. The 1991 Colts had a much weaker schedule to play than either the 1990 Patriots or 1989 Cowboys, playing eleven games against teams with non-winning records,[5] as against only five for the 1990 Patriots and four for the 1989 Cowboys.[6] The Colts lost nine consecutive games to start the season before rallying to defeat the playoff-bound New York Jets by a single point in Week 11. The win against their division rivals came at Giants Stadium; the Colts went 0–8 in the Hoosier Dome. (Incidentally, the Jets would become the next team to finish 1–15, doing so five years later.)

Since the Colts finished with the worst record in the NFL, they won the right to draft Steve Emtman, a defensive lineman from Washington whose career was derailed by injuries. It would take them until 1995 to reach the playoffs again, and the Colts did not become consistently successful until Peyton Manning joined the team near the end of the 1990s.


Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance
1 September 1 New England Patriots L 7–16 0–1 Hoosier Dome 49,961
2 September 8 at Miami Dolphins L 6–17 0–2 Joe Robbie Stadium 51,155
3 September 15 at Los Angeles Raiders L 0–16 0–3 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum 40,287
4 September 22 Detroit Lions L 24–33 0–4 Hoosier Dome 53,396
5 September 29 at Seattle Seahawks L 3–31 0–5 Kingdome 56,656
6 October 6 Pittsburgh Steelers L 3–21 0–6 Hoosier Dome 55,383
7 October 13 at Buffalo Bills L 6–42 0–7 Rich Stadium 79,015
8 October 20 New York Jets L 6–17 0–8 Hoosier Dome 53,025
9 Bye
10 November 3 Miami Dolphins L 6–10 0–9 Hoosier Dome 55,899
11 November 10 at New York Jets W 28–27 1–9 Giants Stadium 44,792
12 November 17 Chicago Bears L 17–31 1–10 Hoosier Dome 60,519
13 November 24 at Green Bay Packers L 10–14 1–11 Milwaukee County Stadium 42,132
14 December 1 Cleveland Browns L 0–31 1–12 Hoosier Dome 57,539
15 December 8 at New England Patriots L 17–23 1–13 Foxboro Stadium 20,131
16 December 15 Buffalo Bills L 7–35 1–14 Hoosier Dome 48,286
17 December 22 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers L 3–17 1–15 Tampa Stadium 28,043
Note: Intra-division opponents are in bold text.

Game summaries

Week 11: at New York Jets

1 2 34Total
Colts 0 7 21028
Jets 7 7 7627

at Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

  • Date: Sunday, November 10
  • Game time: 1:00 p.m.
  • Game weather: Rain, 40 °F (4.4 °C), wind 22 miles per hour (35 km/h; 19 kn), wind chill 31 °F or −0.6 °C
  • [7]
Game information

Week 16

1 234Total
• Bills 21 707 35
Colts 0 007 7


Jim Kelly and Frank Reich managed just thirteen completions, but four of them were touchdowns as the Bills romped 35–7. Jeff George was benched after completing just 83 yards and Mark Herrmann was even worse, throwing three interceptions. The win secured the #1 playoff seed for the Bills.


AFC East
(1) Buffalo Bills 13 3 0 .813 7–1 10–2 458 318 L1
(6) New York Jets 8 8 0 .500 4–4 6–6 314 293 W1
Miami Dolphins 8 8 0 .500 4–4 5–7 343 349 L2
New England Patriots 6 10 0 .375 4–4 5–9 211 305 L1
Indianapolis Colts 1 15 0 .063 1–7 1–11 143 381 L6

See also


  1. ^ The 1991 Colts’ total is now second-lowest of all-time, behind the 140 points the Seattle Seahawks put up in 1992.
  2. ^ The league switched from a 14- to a 16-game schedule in 1978.


  1. ^ "The 25 Worst NFL Teams of All Time". Complex Networks.
  2. ^ Pro Football Reference; In a single season, from 1940 to 2017, in the Regular Season, requiring Touchdowns = 0, sorted by most games in season matching criteria
  3. ^ Football Outsiders: 1991 DVOA Ratings and Commentary
  4. ^ Bill Swerski's Super Fans: Thanksgiving - SNL (Video). Saturday Night Live. September 25, 2013. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  5. ^ 1991 Indianapolis Colts against opponent with non-winning record
  6. ^ 1989 Dallas Cowboys against opponent with non-winning record
  7. ^ Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets – November 10th, 1991
  8. ^ pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved 2020-Jul-19.