There were only 12,971 fans on hand at the still unfinished stadium on November 5th 1950 for the only NFL victory enjoyed by this incarnation of the Colts and many of them were on the field celebrating before the game ended. Trailing 21-14 in the fourth quarter, the Colts drew within a point on a 96-yard touchdown run by Jim Spavital, then shrugged off a missed extra point by intercepting three passes for touchdowns in the final five minutes. The game featured 30 possession changes and Baltimore gained a then team record 506 yards. It was the only game the Colts would win in their first and only NFL season after moving over with the Browns and the San Francisco 49’ers from the All-American Football Conference. The team disbanded when the year was over but in 1953 the Dallas Texans, who had joined the NFL the previous year, moved to Baltimore and adopted Colts as their nickname. Even as the fans swarmed onto the field, carrying YA Tittle off on their shoulders, the players were self-conscious about the jubilation their victory had prompted. “We didn’t have much to celebrate,” Tittle said. “We were embarrassed. That was probably the worst team in the history of football. I think our defence still holds the record for the most points allowed. We couldn’t stop anybody”. The Colts allowed 63 touchdowns in 12 games. On this cool afternoon, the Colts had some intangibles in their favour.
For one thing the Packers were happy to be in Baltimore - happy to be anywhere really. Their Friday night flight from Green Bay, with a stop in Detroit, had been a harrowing, six-hour ordeal that required a day of recuperation. Flying through heavy rain and snow, the plane, in the words of former Green Bay Post-Gazette sports editor Art Daley, suddenly “dropped from 16,000 feet to 600 feet, but the pilot skilfully brought the big ship in on the beam -practically a blind landing”.
The Packers, coached by Gene Ronzani (pictured), entered the game with a 3-4 record, jumped out to a 7-0 lead, allowed two Baltimore touchdowns, then stormed back to take a 21-14 lead on quarterback Paul Christman’s 40-yard scoring pass to end Al Baldwin. Led by the quarterback tandem of Christman and Tobin Rote and the running of veteran halfback Tony Canadeo, a future Hall of Famer, the Packers appeared to be in control of the game.
Then, with 11 minutes left, Spavital broke loose on his 96-yard run, one yard short of the league record, for his third touchdown of the game. The Packers clung to the lead when Rex Grossman flunked the extra point, but the embattled Colts defence seized the moment. With five minutes left, Baltimore defensive back Jim Owens intercepted a Christman pass and rambled 25 yards for the go ahead touchdown. Then defensive back Frank Spaniel snared a Rote pass and ran it in for a 25-yard score, and Herb Rich followed on the next Packer possession by picking off a long pass by Rote at the Colt 40-yard line and hugged the touchline for yet another touchdown. Both scorers were mobbed by fans, who had lined up three deep on the sidelines and had to be cleared off the field for the final extra point.
It had been a rough defeat for the Packers, but at least they had a pleasantly uneventful flight home. Green Bay lost all six games on the road and split the 6 home games 3-3