Super Bowl III was the first AFL-NFL Championship Game to be officially referred to as the Super Bowl, and it was played at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida on January 12, 1969.

If you missed Super Bowl III, then you may have missed what is widely contested as being the best game in Super Bowl history because it was the first time in Super Bowl history the underdog emerged victorious. In what transpired to be a major upset, the AFL team, the New York Jets, secured a crowd-pleasing victory against its NFL rivals, the Baltimore Colts, with a score of 16-7. However, the Jet’s victory did not come as a shock to everyone. On the Thursday before the game, the Jet’s quarterback, Joe Namath, had sworn that he guaranteed his team would emerge victorious.

Notable for:

  • Super Bowl III was actually the first game to officially be called the Super Bowl. While the first two games are now referred to as Super Bowl II and II respectively, at the time, they were originally officially named SB1 and SB2.

Showing absolute determination to remain true to his word, Joe Namath was the superstar of Super Bowl III, completing 17 out of 18 passes and determinedly pursuing a steady, relentless attack that allowed the Jets to dominate their adversary.

Although this game is remembered for being a massive upset, the stats during the championship game itself were relatively close, with the Jets gaining 337 yards and the Colts 324. However, the Jets were able to secure the upper hand by clocking holding the ball for 36:10 minutes in comparison to the 23:50 minutes held by Baltimore. This, in combination with the Jet’s focused and steady game, allowed them to play extremely well defensively, with the underdogs successfully intercepting 4 balls.

Baltimore’s only touchdown was scored by Johnny Unitas who had been injured for the majority of the season but managed to bring his team back from a 16-0 loss.

The MVP went to Joe Namath, even though he had failed to score any touchdowns and had not executed any passes at all in the fourth quarter.

Final Score: New York Jets (AFL) – 16 vs. Baltimore Colts (NFL) – 7
Date: January 12, 1969
Stadium: Miami Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida
MVP: Joe Namath, Quarterback
Pre-game Favorite: Colts by 18
Referee: Tom Bell
Attendance: 75,389

While celebrity performances were not to become a standard part of the Super Bowl program until New Kid on the Block’s 1991 halftime show, Super Bowl III was the first to feature a celebrity during the ceremony, with comedian Bob Hope appearing before the game to honor the Apollo astronauts. The entertainment for the previous two Super Bowls had been provided by college bands.

National Anthem: Lloyd Geisler of the Washington National Symphony Orchestra
Coin Toss: Tom Bell
Half Time: “America Thanks” with Florida A&M University band