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1976 Baltimore Colts season
|1976 Baltimore Colts season|
|Head coach||Ted Marchibroda|
|General manager||Joe Thomas|
|Home field||Memorial Stadium|
|Division place||T-1st AFC East|
|Playoff finish||Lost Divisional Playoffs (Steelers) 14–40|
|Pro Bowlers||T 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. 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. Baltimore had won its first two preseason games, then dropped the final four. Several Colts assistant coaches threatened to leave the team, and quarterback Bert Jones publicly came to his coach’s defense. Thomas and Irsay quickly made amends with the coach before the season started. (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 spectactular year, rushing for 1,200 yards, and catching 60 passes. Wide receiver Roger Carr proved to be a valuable deep threat in the passing game, leading the league 1,112 receiving yards and 25.9 yards per reception. All three offensive players made the Pro Bowl team.
|1||September 12||at New England Patriots||W 27–13||1–0||Schaefer Stadium||
|2||September 19||Cincinnati Bengals||W 28–27||2–0||Memorial Stadium||
|3||September 26||at Dallas Cowboys||L 27–30||2–1||Texas Stadium||
|4||October 3||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||W 42–17||3–1||Memorial Stadium||
|5||October 10||Miami Dolphins||W 28–14||4–1||Memorial Stadium||
|6||October 17||at Buffalo Bills||W 31–13||5–1||Rich Stadium||
|7||October 24||at New York Jets||W 20–0||6–1||Shea Stadium||
|8||November 1||Houston Oilers||W 38–14||7–1||Memorial Stadium||
|9||November 7||at San Diego Chargers||W 37–21||8–1||San Diego Stadium||
|10||November 14||New England Patriots||L 14–21||8–2||Memorial Stadium||
|11||November 22||at Miami Dolphins||W 17–16||9–2||Orange Bowl||
|12||November 28||New York Jets||W 33–16||10–2||Memorial Stadium||
|13||December 4||at St. Louis Cardinals||L 17–24||10–3||Busch Memorial Stadium||
|14||December 12||Buffalo Bills||W 58–20||11–3||Memorial Stadium||
- Monday night (November 1, 22), Saturday (December 4)
|New England Patriots(4)||11||3||0||.786||6–2||10–2||376||236||W6|
|New York Jets||3||11||0||.214||2–6||3–9||169||383||L4|
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. This game is better remembered for the post-game crash of a private plane into an unoccupied section of Memorial Stadium.
|Divisional||December 19||Pittsburgh Steelers (3)||L 14–40||Memorial Stadium||
- "A romp in Baltimore sets up playoff scene". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. December 13, 1976. p. 18.
- "Marchibroda quits Colts". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. September 6, 1976. p. 1, part 2.
- "Colts claim front office ruined team". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. September 7, 1976. p. 1, part 2.
- "Marchibroda back; Colts' standoff over". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. September 8, 1976. p. 23.
- "Marchibroda is back with Colts". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. September 8, 1976. p. 1, part 2.
- Lea, Bud (September 8, 1976). "Irsay bows to pressure". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1, part 2.
- 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
- fourth-best in the NFL, second-best in the NFC behind O.J. Simpson
- Pro-Football-Reference.com: 1976 NFL Leaders and Leaderboards
- "Pittsburgh's easy victory averts tragedy". Milwaukee Journal. press dispatches. December 20, 1976. p. 13, part 2.
- "A year in sports". Sports Illustrated. (photo). February 17, 1977. p. 47.
- "Rout was a blessing when plane crashed". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). UPI. December 20, 1976. p. 1B.
- "Touch Down". Milwaukee Journal. (Washington Star Service). December 20, 1976. p. 13, part 2.
- "Small plane crashes into stand minutes after 60,000 leave". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). Associated Press. December 20, 1976. p. 1.
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