Super Bowl 5 MVP Awarded to the Losing Team?

What comes to mind when you think of a Super Bowl MVP?  You are probably like most other reasonably minded people out there.  You assume it’s the player that most helped his team win the Super Bowl.  However, Super Bowl 5 was a different story.

This game was significant for many reasons.  It was the first Super Bowl after the AFL-NFL merger was completed.  It was also the year Vince Lombardi passed away, leading to the trophy being changed officially to what we know as it is today, the Lombardi Trophy.

Then there’s the question from the beginning.  We assume a Super Bowl MVP is from the winning team.  Not this year.  The Baltimore Colts defeated the Dallas Cowboys 16 to 3.  Chuck Howley was named the MVP, but he was a linebacker for the Cowboys, yet another reason this game has been called “The Blunder Bowl.”

Learn more about both of these players in this week’s edition of Pigskin Past, and jump down below for the written version of this episode.

Super Bowl V - Full of Firsts

Super Bowl V between the Baltimore Colts and the Dallas Cowboys represents several unique firsts in league championship games. It was the first Super Bowl after the new AFL-NFL Merger of 1970. 

It was the first Super Bowl to be played on an artificial surface, Poly-Turf in Miami’s Orange Bowl.  It was the first (and so far, only) Super Bowl to see a member of the losing team be awarded the game’s Most Valuable Player award (Dallas linebacker Chuck Howley). 

It was the first Super Bowl to go down to the wire before a winner was crowned.  It was also the first Super Bowl where the winner’s trophy was renamed The Vince Lombardi Trophy, so named after the former great Green Bay Packers head coach who had passed away earlier in 1970.

The Blunder Bowl

Super Bowl V culminated what was the most competitive season in NFL history up to that time. The game itself was the most competitive Super Bowl up to that time.

Super Bowl V was derided by many onlookers as The Blunder Bowl, The Blooper Bowl, The Fumble Bowl, The Mistake Bowl, etc. The game saw an incredible total of 10 turnovers, which is still a Super Bowl record. 

If you saw the game, or if you ever watched the game on DVD, or even if you ever saw the Super Bowl V highlight film, you would have to agree that the hard hitting from both defenses caused those fumbles and interceptions more so than just the apparent nervousness of the opposing offenses.

Defense Reigns Supreme

You would have to say that the defensive performance of both the Colts and the Cowboys made Super Bowl V one of the best defensive Super Bowls of all time. Each team only gained four first downs by running the ball in the game, and their passing attacks were hardly any more successful. 

To learn about some of the behind the scenes action from the late 60s/early 70s Baltimore Colts, you can check out the Upton Bell episode.  He was Director of Player Personnel during the Super Bowl V victory.

Baltimore could earn only six first downs by throwing the ball, and Dallas could account for only five first downs through the air.  The Colts could gain only 2.2 yards per rush, while the Cowboys could gain only 3.3 yards per rush in Super Bowl V.

Both defenses pretty much made their respective teams gain a berth in Super Bowl V, as both defenses surrendered little to opposing offenses down the stretch of the 1970 regular season and playoffs.

Baltimore gave up a total of 17 points in the playoffs before Super Bowl V, while Dallas gave up a total of only 10 points in the playoffs before Super Bowl V.

The Final Score

It was the Dallas offense which really choked during the fourth quarter which ruined their chances to win Super Bowl V. Dallas quarterback Craig Morton threw three key interceptions in the fourth quarter which practically gave the game to Baltimore. 

The Colts did try their hardest to give the game back to the Cowboys, as their quarterbacks (Johnny Unitas and Earl Morrall) combined for a total of three interceptions themselves.

In the end, it was a 32-yard field goal by Baltimore rookie placekicker Jim O’Brien which won Super Bowl V for the Colts, 16-13. Yes, it was a mistake-filled game.  But it was an extremely exciting game which went down to the wire. 

It was thus a great Super Bowl game to begin what was to become the greatest decade in pro football history.

Joe Zagorski is the host of this show, and he is an author of 4 books revolving around the NFL in the 1970s.  Here, you can learn more about Joe and Pigskin Past.

Joe Zagorski

More Posts From Pigskin Past

Get notified of new content, podcasts, and our awesome giveaways!!!!

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.

    6 thoughts on “Super Bowl 5 MVP Awarded to the Losing Team?”

    1. Great article of a game that’s largely overlooked. A real defensive slugfest that should be more admired than it is. The Colts’ unit with Bubba Smith, Mike Curtis, Rick Volk, Jerry Logan and more was formidable


    Leave a Comment