Baltimore and NFL Playoff Games

30,000 Colts Fans at Friendship Airport (now BWI), welcoming the team home
after a championship victory in 1958

With our city totally juiced over this Sunday’s home playoff game, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at hour Baltimore teams have faired in NFL post-season play.  Let’s start with this fact: 2011 marks the 47th year that CharmCity has been in the NFL. The Colts tenure ran 31 seasons, from 1953-1983. The Ravens’ franchise, which kicked off in 1996, is now completing year number 16.

And of those 47 campaigns, you ask, how many merited post-season play? The answer: 18. Baltimore’s Colts went to the playoffs ten times: 1958, 1959, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1975, 1976 and 1977. For our Ravens, Sunday’s divisional game marks the eighth year the purple and black have made it to the playoffs: 2000, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and this year.

Over the span of those 18 years Baltimore teams have played 28 games so far, winning 15 and losing 13. Among those wins, they have chalked up five league championships and two Lombardi Trophies.

Brian Billick’s squads went post-season four years and compiled a 5-3 playoff mark. John Harbaugh teams are now appearing in their fourth post-season, too, and are currently 4-3 in the playoffs. Don Shula and Ted Marchibroda each took three Colts’ teams to the post-season, with Weeb Ewbank and Don McCaffrey going twice.

With Sunday’s home game, Baltimore will have hosted 10 playoff games and been the visiting team 16 times. Three Super Bowl appearances were played at neutral sites.

But regardless of the team, coach, year or location, the one constant has been what playoff football means to the community. When the Colts won their first championship in 1958, 30,000 fans flooded FriendshipAirport (now BWI-Thurgood Marshall) to welcome back the team from New York. Today, thousands of fans have flocked to enemy cities to root on their post-season Ravens.

And each and every citizen, football fans or not, seems to have a noticeable extra zip in their step. Playoff football does that…always has.

I say Ravens 24, Houston 6. Hope I’m right, because then we get to zip-zip-zip all over again next week!

See you out there,

Mike Gibbons

Mike Gibbons is the executive director for the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation, Inc.