Sunday, January 5, 2014

January 5, 1964: Keith Lincoln Carries The Chargers To A Title

On January 5, 1964, in front of more than 30,000 fans at Balboa Stadium in San Diego, Chargers fullback Keith Lincoln put together the single greatest postseason performance in the history of professional football when he recorded 329 yards from scrimmage in a 51-10 victory over the Boston Patriots in the AFL Championship game. Lincoln scored two touchdowns and help set up another two as he rumbled for 206 yards on 13 carries, caught 7 passes for 123 yards, then he capped things off with a halfback pass that was good for a 20 yard gain. The Chargers scored two touchdowns before Boston had an answer. The first score came just 1 minute and 29 seconds into the game, it was a 2 yard run by quarterback Tobin Rote, it was set up by  a 56 yard run by Lincoln. The next touchdown came from a 67 yard run from the fullback who was on his way to making history. While Lincoln was the story of the game, his teammates around him shined as well. After the Chargers saw their lead cut in half on a 7 yard touchdown run from Boston's Larry Garron, they responded with another long touchdown run. This time it was Paul Lowe who burst through the Patriots defense as he capped off the first quarter scoring with a 58 run that ended with 7 more points on the scoreboard to bring the total to 21-7 after one period of play. With the solid running game behind him Rote was able to dominate through the air, he owned the second and third quarters firing two touchdown passes. The the first came on a 14 yard hookup with Don Norton in the second, then he found Lance Alworth in the third on a 48 yard bomb for his second of the day. In the fourth Lincoln added to his totals with his second touchdown run of the day, a 25 yard run that opened the lead up to 44-10. Late in the game, John Hadl drove the last nail in with a 1 yard touchdown run that completed the dominant effort and the Chargers were Champions.

To date, this is the only professional championship title that the City of San Diego has held. The 206 rushing yards was a playoff record at the time and it stood until Los Angeles Rams back Eric Dickerson rumbled for 248 yards against the Dallas Cowboys in 1986. Lincoln sits third on the list today, Miami Dolphins back Lamar Smith bested him by three yards in 2000 with a 209 yard effort in win against the Indianapolis Colts. With that said, no man other than Lincoln has ever come close to the all around performance that he produced in that title game in '64, the next closest contender in postseason yards from scrimmage was Minnesota's Anthony Carter who picked up 257 total yards in a 36-24 win over the 49ers. You can view the list here: That game by Lincoln was truly like no other. It was a surprise to many. The Patriots had allowed just 79 yards rushing per game during the regular season but on that day in San Diego they allowed 318 yards on the ground and gave up a grand total of 610 yards of total offense. This sparked a conversation about the NFL and the AFL potentially having a "World Series" of football. It was a notion that Pete Rozelle the commissioner of the NFL quickly shot down. Just three years later the Packers and the Chiefs would take the field in Super Bowl I.

Here's the box score:

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