1960 American Football League Championship Game
The 1960 American Football League Championship Game was the first AFL title game, played on New Year's Day 1961 at Jeppesen Stadium in Houston, Texas. With New Year's on Sunday, the major college bowl games were played on Monday, January 2. This was the first time that a major professional football league's playoff game was played in January rather than December.
|Date||January 1, 1961|
|Stadium||Jeppesen Stadium, Houston, Texas|
|Favorite||Houston by 6 to 6½ points|
|TV in the United States|
|Announcers||Jack Buck, George Ratterman,|
and Les Keiter
The game matched the Eastern Division champion Houston Oilers (10–4), against the Western Division champion Los Angeles Chargers (10–4), in the first championship game of the new American Football League. The host Oilers were favored by 6 to 6½ points.
The AFL had established a format in which championship games would be alternated each year between the Western Division winners and the Eastern Division. The first game was originally scheduled to be played in the cavernous Los Angeles Coliseum but with the Chargers drawing less than 10,000 a game in the 100,000+ seat coliseum it was feared ABC would pull its contract because of empty seats so the game was moved to the smaller Jeppesen Stadium in Houston, where it drew 32,183. It rained the five days prior to the game.
Oilers' quarterback George Blanda had retired after ten seasons in the NFL and did not play during the 1959 season; he threw three touchdown passes (and kicked a field goal and three extra points) to lead Houston to the first AFL title, 24–16.
The Chargers led 6–0 in the first quarter on two field goals by Ben Agajanian, one of only two players (Hardy Brown) who played in the AAFC, the NFL and the AFL. In the second period, Houston scored on a 17-yard George Blanda pass to All-AFL fullback Dave Smith, then answered a 27-yard Agajanian field goal with a 17-yard kick by Blanda.
In the final quarter, Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon caught a short toss from Blanda and went for an 88-yard touchdown scamper. The Chargers, down by eight points, tried to reach the end zone on their final possession. Had they scored they could have gone for the two-point conversion, but the clock ran out with the Chargers at the Oilers' 22-yard line. The Oilers won the first American Football League championship, 24–16.
- "Oilers tangle with Chargers for AFL title". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. January 1, 1961. p. 9.
- "Houston, Los Angeles play for AFL title". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. January 1, 1961. p. 2, section 2.
- 1960 NFL-AFL Commentator Crews[permanent dead link]
- "Houston faces Los Angeles in title battle". Chicago Sunday Tribune. Associated Press. January 1, 1961. p. 6, part 2.
- "Oilers rally to win AFL title, 24 to 16". Chicago Daily Tribune. Associated Press. January 2, 1961. p. 1, part 2.
- "Blanda paces Oilers to AFL title". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. January 2, 1961. p. 44.
- "Oilers beat Chargers, 24-16, for AFL title". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). UPI. January 2, 1961. p. 24.
- "A big pass wins in a new league". Sports Illustrated. January 9, 1961. p. 42.
- Smith, Wilfrid (January 2, 1961). "329,000 to attend 4 bowl games today". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 1, part 6.
- "LA Times 1985-09-17 P46 Chargers History - Newspapers.com". newspapers.com. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
League's first season was 1960
| Houston Oilers
American Football League Champions
1961 AFL Champions