Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts

▪ American football team
 American professional gridiron football (football, gridiron) team based in Indianapolis that plays in the American Football Conference (AFC) of the National Football League (NFL). The franchise, originally known as the Baltimore (Md.) Colts (1953–84), won three NFL championships (1958, 1959, 1968) and two Super Bowls (1971, 2007).

 The Colts originated from the dissolved Dallas Texans NFL team in 1953. There had been two professional football teams with the name Baltimore Colts before 1953, and continued fan support in the Baltimore area led the NFL to approve the purchase and relocation of the defunct Texans by the Baltimore-based owners. The rechristened Colts hired future Hall of Fame head coach Weeb Ewbank in 1954 and signed Johnny Unitas (Unitas, Johnny), who became one of football's all-time greatest quarterbacks, in 1956.

      In 1958 the Colts defeated the New York Giants 23–17 in a nationally televised NFL championship game, which the Colts won when their running back Alan Ameche scored a one-yard touchdown run in a sudden-death overtime period. The 1958 championship game took on the nickname “the Greatest Game Ever Played” and was likely the single most important moment in the popularization of professional football in the latter half of the 20th century. The Colts reemerged as NFL champions the following season, beating the Giants again in the championship game. The team appeared in another memorable title game when in 1969 the heavily favoured NFL champion Colts met the upstart American Football League (AFL) champion New York Jets in Super Bowl III. The Jets were led by young quarterback Joe Namath (Namath, Joe), who said, before the game, that he guaranteed a Super Bowl victory and then guided his 18-point underdog team to the biggest upset in Super Bowl history. In 1971 the Colts won their first Super Bowl, a 16–13 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

      The years after Unitas's 1973 departure from the team were filled with many mediocre seasons and no play-off victories for the remainder of the team's tenure in Baltimore. In 1984 team owner Robert Irsay—after failing to get local government funding for a new stadium—relocated the team to Indianapolis in a move that took place in the middle of the night, before most Colt fans knew that any move had been planned. The relocated Colts initially struggled, qualifying for postseason play only once in their first 11 seasons in Indianapolis. In 1998 the Colts drafted quarterback Peyton Manning (Manning, Peyton), who teamed with wide receiver Marvin Harrison and running back Edgerrin James to give the Colts one of the league's best offenses in the 2000s. Manning put up record passing numbers and led the team to numerous winning seasons, but he was often blamed for his team's failures to advance in the play-offs. The team broke through in 2007, beating the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl and putting a stop to criticism that Manning could not win the big game.

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