July 13, 2012

MVP Profile: George Blanda, 1970


Quarterback/Placekicker, Oakland Raiders



Age:  43 (Sept. 17)
21st season in pro football, 4th with Raiders
College: Kentucky
Height: 6’2”    Weight: 215

Prelude:
Blanda was chosen by the Chicago Bears in the 12th round of the 1949 NFL draft and, with a very brief hiatus in Baltimore, played for them for ten years. He led the league in passing attempts (362) and completions (169) in 1953, but otherwise was forced to share the quarterback job while handling the placekicking. After two seasons (1957 & ’58) in which he saw scant action at quarterback, he retired. The creation of the new AFL in 1960 pulled Blanda out of retirement, and he led the Oilers to the first league title while throwing for 2413 yards and 24 touchdowns. He followed that up with a 1961 season that started slowly (he was actually briefly benched) but ended up with his winning AFL Player of the Year honors, leading the league in passing yards (3330) and yards per attempt (9.2) as well as tossing a record 36 TD passes (tied by Y.A. Tittle in the NFL in 1963 but not broken until 1984) as the Oilers, following a fortuitous coaching change, went on to win a second AFL title. Blanda was an AFL All-Star after each of the next two seasons and led the Oilers back to the AFL Championship game in ’62 despite being intercepted a record 42 times. He led the league in interceptions thrown for four straight years (1962-65), but also in passing yards in 1963 (3003) and both passes and completions from 1963-65. The team’s record had tailed off badly after ’62, however, and young QB Don Trull was drafted to be Blanda’s replacement. At age 39, Blanda was let go by Houston following the 1966 season and signed with the Oakland Raiders. Seeing scant action as the backup quarterback, he continued to be a reliable placekicker and led the league in scoring with 116 points in 1967. Both his quarterbacking and placekicking came into play in 1970 as he put together a remarkable string of clutch performances during the season.

1970 Season Summary
Appeared in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Passing
Attempts – 55
Most attempts, game – 13 at Detroit 11/26
Completions – 29
Most completions, game – 7 vs. Pittsburgh 10/25, vs. Cleveland 11/8
Yards – 461
Most yards, game – 148 vs. Pittsburgh 10/25
Completion percentage – 52.7
Yards per attempt – 8.4
TD passes – 6
Most TD passes, game – 3 vs. vs. Pittsburgh 10/25
Interceptions – 5
Most interceptions, game – 2 vs. San Francisco 12/20
Passer rating – 79.4

Rushing
Attempts – 2
Yards – 4
Yards per attempt – 2.0
TDs – 0

Kicking
Field goals – 16 [18]
Most field goals, game - 3 vs. Cleveland 11/8
Field goal attempts – 29 [14]
Most field goal attempts, game – 4 at San Diego 9/27, vs. Cleveland 11/8, vs. San Diego 11/22
Field goal percentage – 55.2 [18]
PATs – 36 [4, tied with Jim O'Brien]
PAT attempts – 36 [5]
Longest field goal – 52 yards vs. Cleveland 11/8

Points
Field goals – 16
PATs - 36
Points – 84 [15]

Postseason: 2 G
(all passing was in 1 G – at Baltimore, AFC Championship)
Pass attempts – 32
Pass completions – 17
Passing yards – 271
TD passes – 2
Interceptions – 3

Field goals – 1
Most field goals, game – 1 at Baltimore, AFC Championship
Field goal attempts – 2
Most field goal attempts, game – 1 vs. Miami, AFC Divisional playoff, at Baltimore, AFC Championship
PATs – 5
Most PATs, game – 3 vs. Miami, AFC Divisional playoff
PAT attempts – 5
Longest field goal – 48 yards at Baltimore, AFC Championship

Awards & Honors:
NFL Player of the Year: Bert Bell Award
2nd team All-NFL: PFWA

Raiders went 8-4-2 to finish first in the AFC West while leading the conference in passing yards (2865). Won AFC Divisional playoff over Miami Dolphins (21-14). Lost AFC Championship to Baltimore Colts (27-17).

Aftermath:
Blanda remained a capable backup quarterback and placekicker for the Raiders through 1975, at age 48. He retired as the all-time NFL leader in scoring (2002 points) and field goals (335), as well as seasons played (26 – the record that still stands), and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1981.

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MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself). 

[Updated 2/8/14]