November 11 1962: Dallas Texans 52 – New York Titans 31
1962 was a breakthrough year for Lamar Hunt’s Dallas Texans side. After being formed as part of the new American Football League in 1960, they had two moderate opening seasons. But this year, coach Hank Stram had added Len Dawson of the Cleveland Browns to his squad as starting quarterback, and the side clicked into shape.
In mid-November, the Texans were well poised, at 6 & 2, to make their first postseason. They were just about favourites to beat their hosts New York Titans (though the Titans had beaten both the Raiders and Chargers the previous two weeks). The crowds at the Polo Grounds were treated to a fast paced thriller from the off.
Early in the first, the home side took the lead through a Johnny Green pass, but the Dallas Texans bounced straight back – a Dawson pass found Abner Haynes, who evaded coverage and hared off for a 75 yard score. On the Texans’ very next possession, the team went downfield quickly again, and Haynes finished off again, this time rushing home from much closer range.
Abner Haynes was the American Football League’s first ever superstar. Coming out of North Texas, he passed up on being drafted by the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers and instead opted to join the Texans in the AFL’s inaugural year. This proved to be a winning idea: he led the team in rushes, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, receptions, punt return yards and kick return yards – on his way to being named the AFL’s rookie of the year, and the player of the year.
He ended up being an All-Pro on 4 occasions, and his 46 rushing touchdowns is comfortably the most by any player in the decade long history of the AFL before its merger with the NFL.
14-7 Texans, but the 1st quarter was far from done. The Titans hurried back downfield to set up a short range rushing score, but from the next possession, the Texans did exactly the same, allowing Curtis McClinton to rush in from 8 yards.
The defences finally got a grip on things in the second quarter – the Texans held the Titans to a couple of field goals, while the visiting Texans managed one point more – Len Dawson managed to sneak home from a yard out to score the first rushing touchdown of his career (and one of only 9 he would score in total).
Coming out after the break with a 28-20 lead, Dallas then pulled into a decisive lead – first a Tommy Brooker field goal, and then a Dawson touchdown pass to our leading wide receiver of the time, Chris Burford. The Titans pushed hard but could never get level – they got things back to 38-31, before the Texans killed the game once and for all.
First, Haynes got his third score of the game, sealing a long drive with a 9 yard rush. And then the Texans got the ball back quickly and capped another drive with a pass to tight end Fred Arbanas to take the score past 50.
Rookie Arbanas had been a seventh round pick, but he carved out a successful 9 year career with the franchise (playing 125 games and scoring 25 touchdowns). His final start for the team was in January 1970, as he picked up a winner’s ring in Superbowl IV.
Seeing out the season strongly, the Texans finished the season strongly, finishing 11 & 3, and defeating the Houston Oilers to win their first AFL title. But it was all change in the off season – as the Texans upped sticks and moved to Missouri, to become the Kansas City Chiefs!
For the Titans, the off season saw a change of ownership, a change of coach, and also a change of name, becoming the New York Jets in time for the following campaign
Elsewhere in the NFL at the time:
Fans at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas were treated to a high scoring thriller – but won’t have been pleased with the result. After an early Cowboys score, the visiting Chicago Bears took the lead on a touchdown pass to Mike Ditka. The lead then swung back to the Cowboys, the Bears, and decisively to the Cowboys who took a late 9 point lead.
But a long Johnny Morris touchdown pass cut that to 2, and as time ran out the Bears scored a field goal to snatch the game by a point.
Elsewhere in the world:
The Swinging Sixties are underway with a bang – the Beatles release their debut single Love Me Do, and follow it up with their first television appearance. And shortly before that, Dr No, the first James Bond film, premieres in British cinemas.