The Indianapolis Colts were founded in 1953 from the remains of a team called the Dallas Texans. That said, the Colts can trace their history back to 1913 as the Dayton Triangles. The Triangles moved to Brooklyn to become the Brooklyn Dodgers, who merged with the Boston Yanks in 1945. The league canceled the franchise and handed the players over to the Yanks, who requested to be canceled themselves over tax purposes, leading the NFL to hand the owner a new franchise called the New York Bulldogs in 1949. The Bulldogs changed their name back to the Yanks in 1950, now known as the New York Yanks. The NFL canceled the Yanks in 1951 and moved the team to Texas, which brought about the birth of the Dallas Texans. However, the Texans folded and were sold to Carroll Rosenbloom following the 1952 season, who named the team the Baltimore Colts, after a preceding team carried the name from 1947-1950.
After the team’s perpetual struggles in their previous incarnations, the Baltimore Colts went on to win back to back NFL Championships in 1958 and 1959, defeating the New York Giants at each stop. The 1958 Championship game is regarded as the ‘Greatest Game Ever Played‘ as it became the first NFL playoff game to go into overtime as well as the first game to contribute to the popularity surge the NFL would reap in later decades.
The Colts went on to play again in the 1964 NFL Championship, losing in a shutout to the Cleveland Browns, the latter team’s last NFL Title to date. However, just four seasons later the Colts played in their first Super Bowl, Super Bowl III against the New York Jets in a losing effort.
The misfortune was short-lived as the team went on to defeat the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V for their first Super Bowl Championship and third NFL Title.
The Super Bowl victory marked the beginning of a long, exhausting streak of misfortune and after a loss to the Miami Dolphins in the 1971 AFC Championship Game, they would never win another playoff game in Baltimore, losing all three playoff games in the 1970s.
Also during this time, owner Carroll Rosenbloom grew tired of the condition at the Colts’ home, Memorial Stadium, prompting him to swap franchises with Bob Irsay, who owned the Los Angeles Rams.
Irsay couldn’t fix the stadium issues in Baltimore and overnight, moved the Colts to Indianapolis prior to the 1984 season.
However, the Colts failed to find success in Indianapolis during the early years, losing in their lone playoff appearance during the 1980s. After coming within one game of the Super Bowl in 1995, the Colts hit a new low in 1997, however they found a franchise quarterback in Peyton Manning, one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.
The Manning-led Colts made several playoff appearances between 1999 and 2002, but it wasn’t until 2003 did the dynasty really begin. The Colts made eight straight playoff appearances between 2003 and 2010, winning the division in each season except in 2008. Between 2003 and 2009, they never finished under 12-4.
They made two Super Bowl appearances, winning Super Bowl XLI in 2006 before losing to the upstart New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV.
In 2011, the team hit rock bottom once more, but it was short-lived. While a now-aging Manning left for Denver, the Colts drafted his successor in Andrew Luck, said to be one of the greatest quarterback prospects of the era.
The Luck-led Colts carried out a shocking 2012 campaign, finishing 11-5 and winning close contest after close contest before falling to the Baltimore Ravens in the Wildcard Playoffs.
The team would make the playoffs again and win their first AFC South Division Title since 2010, facing the Kansas City Chiefs in one of the most thrilling playoff games in NFL history. Down 38-10 in the third quarter, the Colts rallied to win 45-44 and advance to the Divisional Round before losing to the New England Patriots.
The following season again saw the Colts in the playoffs, but they again lost in a 45-7 blowout to the Patriots one game away from the Super Bowl.
2015, 2016, and 2017 were lean, especially as Andrew Luck struggled to stay on the field, but in 2018, a 1-5 Colts team found their groove once more, knocking off the Houston Texans in the playoffs before losing to the Chiefs in the Divisional Round.
While the Colts ended 2018 on a sour note, the return of Andrew Luck, an improved offensive line and defensive play has catapulted the Colts once more into serious AFC contenders. If the team picks up where it left off in the 2018 regular season, Andrew Luck will lead the team back to a place it hasn’t been since 2009.
Indianapolis Colts Quick Hits
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
Speed blue, white
Peyton Manning, Johnny Unitas, Marvin Harrison, Tarik Glenn
Origins can be traced back to 1913 starting with the Dayton Triangles.
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