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AFL - NFL Exhibition Games
1967 - 1968 - 1969

       The season after the 1966 merger agreement between the American Football League and the NFL, and the first World Championship, exhibition games were played between teams from the two leagues.  To AFL fans, in spite of the "meaningless" exhibition status, these games were very exciting.  The very first such game was won by an AFL team, the Denver Broncos, over the Lions.

       These games have generally fallen into the backwaters of history, but American Football League fan Ron Cruz has devoted endless hours of research, perusing old newspaper reports.  The results of his commendable effort are published below.  The body of the work is wholly Ron Cruz's ~ comments by Ange Coniglio are displayed in a different font.
In addition, Mark Bolding has an interesting page on "the Summer of the Little Super Bowls", explaining the significance of these games. Mark also has a detailed description of the only exhibition game played between a CFL team and an AFL team.

       For these games, the American Football League teams used the Spalding J5-V football when they were on offense, while the NFL teams on offense used the Wilson "Duke" football.  PAT rules were not consistent, Ron explains some variations below.

HOME TEAMS in caps

1967: 16 contests
AFL 3 wins
NFL 13 wins

Aug 5: BRONCOS 13, Detroit 7
-- Played at the University of Denver - ATT: 21,228 (AP)
-- Earlier this day, Paul Brown, Bobby Layne, Chuck Bednarick and the late Charles W. Bidwell were among those inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.

Aug 13: Baltimore 33, PATRIOTS 3
-- Played at Harvard Stadium, Cambridge, Mass.
-- Jim Nance: "We've heard a lot about the National League players. Well, we found out they were just men - not supermen."

Aug 14: DETROIT 19, Bills 17
-- First of only two 1967 interleague games hosted by the NFL team. (see Sept 1)

Aug 18: BRONCOS 14, Minnesota 9
-- Played at the University of Denver - ATT: 31,850

Aug 19: Atlanta 27, DOLPHINS 17
-- Dolphins led after three quarters 17-10.
-- ATT: 50,822 (AP)

Aug 19: Philadelphia 34, Jets 19
-- Played at Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati - est ATT: 22,000 (NY Times)
-- (NY Times): "The Jets most effective work came during a first-period brawl that saw players from both teams race onto the field. The trouble started when Izzy Lang was bumped out of bounds after catching a pass. In quick order, Timmy Brown jammed an elbow in Johnny Sample's back, Cornell Gordon of the Jets punched Mike Ditka and Gary Ballmann hit Don Hudson."
-- After Jets 4th quarter touchdown (Taliaferro-BTurner 12 pass) cut the Philadelphia lead to 31-19, the scoring summary lists "run failed" as the conversion attempt. After reviewing previous game summaries, it appears that this was the first ever 2-point conversion attempt in the AFL-NFL series. Ball carrier's name is unknown.

Aug 20: Detroit 38, CHARGERS 17
-- First ever game played at the new San Diego Sports Stadium (Jack Murphy/Qualcom)- ATT: 45,988

Aug 23: CHIEFS 66, Chicago 24
-- ATT: 33,041 (AP)
-- After Chiefs 1st quarter touchdown (Garrett 1 run) made the score 20-3, the Chiefs successfully converted a two-point conversion (Dawson-McClinton pass), the first successful 2-point conversion in the AFL-NFL series. (see Aug 19 Philadelphia vs Jets).
-- Halftime: Chiefs 39-10, Chicago's only touchdown being a Gordon 103 yard kickoff return to make the score 29-10.
-- Talk about rubbing it in! After Chiefs 4th quarter touchdown (Beathard 2 run) made the score 66-24, the scoring summary lists the conversion attempt as "run failed". Ball carrier is unknown.

Aug 25: Philadelphia 38, BILLS 30
-- With Bills leading 30-24 in 4th quarter, Philadelphia scored two late touchdowns: First (Snead-Hughes 40 pass) "in the closing seconds" and second (Scarpati 40 INT return) "with 11 seconds remaining". (AP)

Aug 26: Washington 13, PATRIOTS 7
-- Played at Harvard Stadium, Cambridge, Mass.

Aug 27: Los Angeles 50, CHARGERS 7
-- Halftime: Los Angeles 43-0.
-- 50-0 before Chargers finally scored in 4th quarter.

Sept 1: LOS ANGELES 44, Chiefs 24
-- Second and last of the 1967 interleague games hosted by the NFL team. (see Aug 14)
-- Both teams entered coming off lopsided interleague victories in their previous games (see Aug 23 and 27), hence ATT: 73,990.
-- Halftime: Kansas City 24-13

Sept 2: Dallas 30, OILERS 17
-- Played at Rice Stadium - ATT: 53,125
-- Oilers trailed 27-3 before scoring two 4th quarter touchdowns.

Sept 2: New Orleans 20, Dolphins 17
-- Played in Charleston, South Carolina - ATT: 11,214 (UPI)

Sept 2: Pittsburgh 13, CHARGERS 7
NO ARTICLES FOUND but site of game was San Diego.

Sept 3: San Francisco 13, RAIDERS 10
-- ATT: 53,254 "a Coliseum record". (UPI)
-- Raiders only touchdown (Blanda-Biletnikoff 41 pass) came with 32 seconds left in the game.

Aug 19 (Philadelphia-Jets) and Aug 23 are the only games where 2-point conversions were attempted.

No NFL team attempted a 2-point conversion.

1968: 23 contests
AFL 13 wins
NFL 10 wins

"No PAT kicks":
All 1968 interleague games were played under an experimental rule that prohibited extra-points by kicks. Only run and pass plays allowed. Successful attempts were awarded one point.

Aug 1: OILERS 9, Washington 3
-- First pro football game played in the Astrodome.
-- ATT: 41,868 "including three heart-transplant survivors". (UPI)

Aug 3: CHARGERS 30, San Francisco 18
-- Chargers scored two touchdowns within final 1:45 of game.

Aug 3: Baltimore 14, RAIDERS 12
-- Baltimore were able to make a 14-0 1st quarter lead stand up.

Aug 5: BILLS 19, Detroit 9
-- Played in 90-degree temperature

Aug 10: Chiefs 13, MINNESOTA 10
-- Stenerud FG 15 with 47 seconds left wins it.

Aug 10: NEW ORLEANS 19, Patriots 0
-- Only shutout in AFL-NFL preseason series.
-- (AP) "Saints fans delayed the game a half dozen times with noisy choruses of boos directed at the officials and the Patriots.

Aug 17: DOLPHINS 23, Philadelphia 7
-- Halftime: Philadelphia 7-6.

Aug 17: Pittsburgh 36, Chargers 33
-- Shockley FG 17 with 21 seconds wins game.

Aug 17: Minnesota 39, Denver 16
-- Minnesota 27 points in opening 17 minutes of game.

Aug 17: CHIEFS 13, St. Louis 10
-- Stenerud FG 24 with 9:21 in game.
-- Bakken wide (left or right unknown) from 38 yards with 1:33 remaining in game.

Aug 18: OILERS 24, New Orleans 23
-- New Orleans 23-7 after three quarters.

Aug 23: Jets 27, Atlanta 12
-- Played at Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama (Namath's college) - ATT: 27,406
-- Namath: 12-20 passing, 140 yds, 2 TDs.

Aug 23: San Francisco 22, BRONCOS 6

Aug 24: CHARGERS 35, Los Angeles 13

Aug 25: Bengals 19, Pittsburgh 3
-- Played in Morgantown, West Virginia - ATT: 11,500

Aug 30: Cleveland 22, BILLS 12
-- Bills led after three quarters 12-10.

Aug 31: Baltimore 22, DOLPHINS 13
-- ATT: 68,125 (AP)
-- Baltimore would later return to Orange Bowl...

Aug 31: Dallas 33, OILERS 19
-- ATT: 52,280 (UPI)

Aug 31: LOS ANGELES 36, Chiefs 16

Sept 1: Raiders 26, SAN FRANCISCO 19
-- ATT: 57,593 (UPI)

Sept 2: Philadelphia 22, PATRIOTS 20
-- Played at Harvard Stadium, Cambridge, Mass.

Sept 7: Jets 9, Detroit 6
-- Played at Memorial Stadium, Cleveland as part of an annual preseason doubleheader begun in 1962 by Art Modell. Jets first AFL team to play in traditional series. Second game: Green Bay 31, Cleveland 9.
-- ATT: 84,918, largest in the Cleveland doubleheader series and largest in Browns' history.

Sept 7: DOLPHINS 19, Atlanta 13


"AFL Throws NFL For Loss With 13-10 Edge in Exhibitions"
by Sam Goldaper
(NY Times)

"The youth revolution has even spilled over into professional football.
With loud and menacing noises, the American Football League, at the age of 9, has shouldered aside its 49-year-old brother - the National Football League.
In 23 games between the young and the old during the exhibition season that wound up Saturday night, the AFL won the series 13-10. That was a turnabout from the 13-3 trouncing the NFL handed the AFL in interleague play last year.
The next thing the AFL will be saying is that it expects to win the Super Bowl game that will match its champion against the NFL's in Miami's Orange Bowl..."
(see Joe Namath four months later!)

1969: 33 contests
AFL 13 wins
NFL 19 wins
1 tie

Aug 2: Minnesota 45, Dolphins 10
-- Played in Tampa - ATT: 37,461 (UPI)
-- Dolphins led 10-0 after 1st quarter. Minnesota scored 24 in second.
-- Dolphins coach George Wilson and QB Bob Griese accused Minnesota of playing the game "as if it were the Super Bowl". 
[Too bad they didn't play the Super Bowl as if it were the Super Bowl!]

Aug 2: Baltimore 26, CHARGERS 6

Aug 8: BILLS 21, Washington 17
-- First and only time a Vince Lombardi-coached team lost to an AFL team.
-- (NY Times) "It was not a good game for the Redskins. Bobby Mitchell dropped a pass in the end zone, Sonny Jurgenson fumbled a hand-off setting up Buffalo's touchdown, and Sam Huff missed a key tackle. Lombardi, meanwhile, stood on the sidelines with a look of I-knew-there-would-be-nights-like-this."
-- OJ Simpson was supposed to make his debut but had yet to sign a contract.

Aug 9: Chicago 16, DOLPHINS 10
-- "Dick Butkus was charged with biting and fighting in a hassle that appeared to spur Chicago to victory. Butkus and teammates John Johnson and Bob Breitenstein were tossed out along with Larry Little when a free-for-all broke out with 14:42 remaining." (Chicago was trailing at that point 10-3).

Aug 9: ST LOUIS 13, Jets 6

Aug 9: MINNESOTA 26, Broncos 6

Aug 9: CHIEFS 38, Detroit 13
-- After scoring first (Dawson-Pitts 39 pass) Kansas City successfully converted a 2-point conversion (Garret run) to lead 8-0.
-- Detroit came back to cut deficit (Munson 1 run) but "pass failed" in 2-point attempt.

Aug 9: Baltimore 34, RAIDERS 30
-- "The Colts' defense held off Oakland's final threat on the 12-yard line with 24 seconds remaining to preserve the victory."

Aug 9: CHARGERS 10, New Orleans 7

Aug 15: DETROIT 24, Bills 12
-- OJ Simpson debut after signing 3-year contract for a reported $350,000. He appeared in 19 plays, gaining 19 yards on 4 rushing attempts.
-- Simpson: "They're so quick. The defenses change the pass coverage so you don't know who's covering you. There's no second chance."

Aug 15: Baltimore 33, OILERS 29

Aug 16: Philadelphia 14, DOLPHINS 10

Aug 16: New Orleans 28, BRONCOS 22
-- New Orleans lead 22-0 in the 3rd quarter.

Aug 17: Jets 37, New York G 14
-- Played in Yale Bowl, New Haven, Connecticiut - ATT: 70,874.
-- All tickets cost $7. Most of the receipts went to the Albie Booth Memorial of the New Haven Boys Club. (Booth was a former Yale QB whose career began in 1929).
-- Pete Rozelle imposed pro-football's television blackout rule, which stated that no television station within 75 miles of the site of a home game may televise that game live. New Haven was officially 74 miles from NY City and both the Jets and Giants were considered to be home teams. 
[Why give Jets fans the pleasure of seeing them cream the Giants . . . and why put Giants fans through that trauma?] (Giants wore home blue, Jets wore road white)
-- (NY Times) "In a gesture rich in symbolism, Weeb Ewbank appointed the three original Titans - Larry Grantham, Bill Mathis and Don Maynard - as honorary captains for the game."

Aug 17: Atlanta 34, PATRIOTS 16
-- Played at Alumni Field, Boston College.

Aug 22: OILERS 19, Chicago 17
-- Oilers' winning touchdown (Beathard-Haik 11 pass) with 1:26 left in game.

Aug 22: Baltimore 20, BILLS 7
-- OJ Simpson: 5 rush, 20 yards - 2 rec, 7 yds

Aug 23: BRONCOS 19, San Francisco 15
-- 7 total field goals: 4 by Bobby Howfield, 3 by Tommy Davis.

Aug 23: Chiefs 42, LOS ANGELES 14
-- Dawson four touchdown passes.
-- Chiefs scored 35 after trailing 14-7.
-- President Richard Nixon attended and was introduced as "the Rams' number one fan".

Aug 23: CHARGERS 19, Cleveland 19
-- Only tie game in AFL-NFL exhibition series.
-- Bob Matheson blocked a 10-yard field goal attempt with 17 seconds left to preserve tie.

Aug 25: Detroit 22, Bills 9
-- Played at Jerry Park, Montreal - ATT: 8,212 "less than one-third capacity and the smallest ever to see an AFL-NFL interleague game". (NY Times)

Aug 28: Dallas 14, OILERS 11
-- ATT: 55,310 (UPI) "The largest football crowd in Astrodome history."

Aug 29: Chiefs 31, ST LOUIS 21
-- A preview article of this game stated that both teams would be "playing for a cup put up by the Governor of Missouri".

Aug 30: Chicago 23, Bills 16
-- Played at Memorial Stadium, Cleveland as part of the traditional preseason doubleheader (see Sept 7, 1968). Green Bay defeated Cleveland 27-17 in the second game.
-- OJ Simpson played little more than one quarter - 3 rush, 8 yards; 2-23 receiving.

Aug 30: Jets 24, Minnesota 21
-- Played at Groves Stadium, Winston-Salem, North Carolina - ATT: 31,500
-- Minnesota's first 1969 preseason loss after three dominant wins. Namath described the Vikings as "maybe the best team in the NFL". 
[. . . but NOT the best in professional football . . .]
-- Each team returned a blocked punt for a touchdown.

Aug 30: Baltimore 23, DOLPHINS 10
-- Baltimore returns to the Orange Bowl...

Aug 30: Bengals 23, PITTSBURGH 13

Aug 30: Los Angeles 24, SAN DIEGO 14
-- President Nixon attended this game.

Aug 30: RAIDERS 42, San Francisco 28
-- San Francisco led 28-20 after three quarters.

Sept 6: DALLAS 25, Jets 9
-- ATT: 74,771
-- Jets led 9-0 midway through 2nd quarter.
-- Namath was rested due to aggravation of a strained tendon in his right knee. "As he strolled down the runway toward the field before the game, Namath was labeled as "chicken" by several shouting Cowboy/NFL loyalists. Namath responded casually with the peace sign, raising the first two fingers of his right hand."(NY Times)

Sept 6: Oilers 30, NEW ORLEANS 14
-- ATT: 76,932 - "largest for a Saints preseason game." (UPI)

Sept 6: CHIEFS 14, Atlanta 10
-- Chiefs finish preseason 6-0.

Sept 6: LOS ANGELES 50, Bills 20
-- OJ Simpson: 7 rushes, 20 yards.

72 games played
AFL 29 wins
NFL 42 wins
1 tie

The Green Bay Packers were the only team to not play in the AFL-NFL preseason series.  
[Had to protect their reputation.]

The New York Giants only played one game in the series. (see Aug 17, 1969)
[Still licking their wounds.]

The Baltimore Colts went undefeated in their 8 games of the series. All were played on the road. 
[Think they had something to prove?]


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Last revision: 01 April 2019 ~ Angelo F. Coniglio,





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